North Central College - Naperville, IL

A Gift Becomes a Retreat

A Naperville couple who first learned about North Central College through an invitation to a Presidents Club dinner several years ago has donated a wooded 43-acre parcel near Dixon, IL, to the College. Dick and Deanna Mandel are not alumni but have forged close ties to the College through friendships and as supporters of the fine arts. The property they donated is valued at about $2 million and includes a modern home with more than 7,000 square feet.

Most gratifying was how the gift reflected the College’s relationship to community residents, says Rick Spencer, vice president for institutional advancement. “The Mandels have become connected with the College over time and had the confidence in us to maintain and utilize this special property,” he says. “We are grateful for their generosity and the freedoms they have given us to use this property as we wish.”

Formerly a Girl Scout camp, the parcel includes walking paths, small cabins, a shower house and storage shop spread throughout the terrain. The home was designed and built as a large log cabin and includes seven bedrooms, along with large gathering spaces. Given the size of the property and convenience to Naperville, it will most likely be used for retreats and meetings in the near future.

“We’re going slowly on making decisions about this property,” says Spencer. “It could be used for campus retreats and meetings, camps, conferences, weddings or family reunions—there are any number of uses. We want to take our time because there are hundreds of ways to use a property like this. But at some point, we have to decide if we want to keep this property for the long haul.”

A student group from the College’s Office of Ministry and Service was the first to experience the beauty of the property, which easily accommodated their needs for a January weekend retreat. “It provided a great atmosphere for an intimate student retreat,” says Whitney Roberts ’08, assistant director of ministry and service.

North Central NOW Spring 2010