Knox College receives $5 million in donations toward Alumni Hall renovation

Renovation campaign at halfway mark

February 18, 2012

Knox College - Alumni Hall

Knox College President Teresa Amott announced today gifts and pledges from donors of $5 million toward renovation of the College's historic Alumni Hall. The fundraising drive is now halfway toward the estimated $10 million total to re-open the 123-year-old building.

"In October, when alumni Gerald and Carol Vovis, and Richard and Joan Whitcomb, donated a total of $2 million, I was confident that their lead gifts would pave the way toward more good news," Amott said. "Today, as Knox marks this 175th Founders Day celebration, support for Alumni Hall has surpassed $5 million."

Amott made the announcement at the February 18 meeting in Galesburg of the College's Board of Trustees.

Exterior work began in December, with restoration of the massive exterior stairways. Knox also has engaged two architectural firms -- Holabird & Root of Chicago and Metzger-Johnson of Galesburg -- and met with students, faculty and staff, to plan the space allocation.

Trustee Mark Kleine spearheaded the task force that developed the Alumni Hall plan and dubbed it the Gateway Project.

"Part of the vision for Alumni Hall is to make it a true gateway to Knox and to the community," Kleine said. "It will greet visitors and new students when they arrive on campus. It will feature exhibits showcasing our rich college and community history. For students, it will have a key role in their academic success by supporting research and creative endeavors, and as they prepare to leave Knox, it will encourage and salute their further success as alumni."

In addition to a public Visitors Center, the building will include the Gerald and Carol Klail Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study. It also will house the Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development and the offices of admission and financial aid.

Alumni Hall was conceived in 1889 to provide meeting spaces for two "literary societies" -- student organizations that had a major impact on both the College and the community by sponsoring regular debates and visiting speakers. The cornerstone was laid in 1890 by U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.

While the names of the debating societies, Adelphi and Gnothautii, were carved above the east and west entrances, fundraising for construction was spearheaded by Knox alumni, and "Alumni Building" was carved in stone above the main entry. Although the building has not seen regular use since the 1980s, about $2.5 million in interior and exterior repairs have been completed since then.

"I have always believed that Knox alumni will rise up to support the building that bears their name and its role in fulfilling Knox's historic mission," Amott said.