North Central College - Naperville, IL

2007: Meeting the $1 million Kresge Challenge and beyond

There’s a song in my heart. If only I had the vocal talent of some of our fabulous students, faculty and alumni, I would record it on YouTube for the more than 2,000 alumni and friends who helped North Central College achieve something remarkable this spring.

We did it! The Kresge Challenge is history. More than $7 million committed—actually, more than $8 million—for the Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center, in time for the June 30, 2007, Kresge Challenge deadline. A 7-to-1 challenge—a very, very difficult order of magnitude—to receive $1 million from The Kresge Foundation. We did it! I have never been prouder of this college:

  • Nearly 2,400 gift commitments (goal: 1,100)
  • 482 donors whose first gift to North Central was for this project
  • Over 500 gifts of $1,000 or more; 86 of $25,000 or more
  • 508 fine arts/music major alumni donors (goal: 500)
  • 555 Naperville area donors who were neither alumni nor parents.

As I wrote to The Kresge Foundation in my final report, “Together, all of these initiatives have created a new fundraising base and structure for the College.” And we will need them! As the exciting Strategic Plan outlined in this North Central Now (page 8) makes clear, we have some major projects to come—as we approach our Sesquicentennial in 2011-2012—including new science facilities…and before we get to them, we need about $5 million to complete the funding of the $29 million Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center and the $8 million Meiley-Swallow Hall (old Grace Church) art/theatre building.

But right now, it’s time to sing, time for a chorus of hurrahs and wahoos and thank yous…for trustees Rita Harvard, Ray Kinney, Dave Kelsch, Roger Hruby ’58, Judy Stevenson, Myron Wentz ’63, Bob Wislow ’67 and so many others who led the volunteer campaign with their generous spirit and extraordinary example; for alumni, faculty and staff, local banks, service clubs and restaurants, and friends and neighbors…I could go on and on…who stepped up to the plate and wouldn’t be denied until the Campaign reached home plate.

The song isn’t just about saying thank you, however. It’s also about what this extraordinary generosity is producing—world-class fine arts facilities for the College, Naperville and Chicagoland! Every day, as what was once a dream takes physical form before our eyes, the reality of what so many have made possible becomes clearer. Think about it: the artists whose genius will inspire us from the Wentz Concert Hall stage; the actors and directors who will cut their teeth on campus productions as students, and go on to stages in Chicago and New York; the lasting impact of the art produced in these halls on every North Central student in the years to come…and on the wider community.

I cannot wait. And I guarantee you, the songs we will hear on these stages will touch all of our hearts for generations to come.

Harold R. Wilde

North Central Now, September 2007