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- NIURedBlack - 01-29-2004 11:04 AM

Center on schedule
Fundraising is on track for the new Alumni and Visitors Center at NIU

Article by:
Mike Morig - Staff Reporter


- Lukulos - 01-29-2004 11:34 AM

I know that I'm 99.9% sure that whenever I go back to NIU, that I will not be visiting the alumni visitor center. I'm sure it will have it's uses, but I have to ask what is the value added for the $6.2 mil investment? Is there any return? I know that it won't make me want to donate more than I currently do. Couldn't we build a scaled down version and direct the rest of the money toward the football facility (which I will definitely visit, given the opportunity) when I come back for our games. I currently work in Chicago, we have an alumni visitor center there, but I still haven't made it over there, even though it's only a few blocks away. Bottom line, NO INTEREST from this alumnus.


- NIURedBlack - 01-29-2004 12:09 PM

I'm not sure if this is correct, but I was under the impression that in addition to being used as an alumni centerpiece, the center was to be used as a recruiting tool for prospective students. I'm not sure if they still do this but I think the Student Center was where I was brought as an incomming freshman. I'm sure the new building will give off a better impression to students than the Holmes. Will it generate more alumni interest than a winning football team??? I doubt it.


- RobertN - 01-29-2004 12:13 PM

Lukulos Wrote:I know that I'm 99.9% sure that whenever I go back to NIU, that I will not be visiting the alumni visitor center. I'm sure it will have it's uses, but I have to ask what is the value added for the $6.2 mil investment? Is there any return? I know that it won't make me want to donate more than I currently do. Couldn't we build a scaled down version and direct the rest of the money toward the football facility (which I will definitely visit, given the opportunity) when I come back for our games. I currently work in Chicago, we have an alumni visitor center there, but I still haven't made it over there, even though it's only a few blocks away. Bottom line, NO INTEREST from this alumnus.
I can see it having possibilities but it would seem to be more for visitors than alumni so I agree, a smaller cheaper building would have been sufficient. The other thing I don't like is that they are just going to tear the house down. Why not donate it to Habitat for Humanity which they can then remodel back into a house(of course it would need to be moved which could be costly unless paid for as part of a company's donation to HFH). It just seems like a waste.


- Guest - 01-29-2004 12:59 PM

Lukolos:

You and several others apparently just don't get the situation. The Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center project has been on the wish list drawing board for years. All along, the plan has been to fund development of the facility 100% from contributions. Not one dime of money is coming from the operational coffers of NIU, as it should be. I am a strong supporter of the facility, to include financially. As my friend Mike Malone states, it will be a shrine and one of the centerpieces of our campus. It will serve both alumni and the recruiting needs of the university. Far too many alumni are completely unconnected to NIU. Research shows that many are "ashamed" of their former university. Along with the many other positive developments on campus in the last five years, the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center will serve to reconnect the alumni community.

In terms of price tag, since its 100% funded by contributions the sky is the limit. Whether donors have appetite to fund a $6 million or $60 million building is irrelevant to the discussion.

There is no "lets fund the alumni/visitor center" versus the "football facility" issue. They are unconnected topics. Like the alumni/visitor center, the plan all along has been for a football facility to be funded 100% from contributions. Like the alumni/visitor center, the first focus of effort is to raise sufficient up front dollars from large donors. Once/if $4 million or so can be raised from big fish, then the process will be opened to everyone for contribution. As reported several times, so far finding the "big fish" money has been slow going. Two separate individuals have ponied up around $700,000 of "contingent" money, meaning they reserve the right to back down should not enough other "big fish" money be drummed up within a certain time frame. Right now NIU is waiting/hoping for a major committment from a prominent individual that would be attached to sale of stock in a comany he/she is a big shareholder of. However, this person remains "squishy" in their committment.

To be totally frank, there seems to be much more appetite among alumni and key others for the alumni/visitor center versus a new football facility. Just look at how quickly NIU achieved its financial goals for the project once the "big fish" money was lined up. I am somewhat pessimistic a football facility even happens in the next five years. In talking to a handful of alumni friends of mine the last several weeks, without exception they are far more enthusiastic about giving a big financial gift to the alumni/visitor center. Even those who are big football fans are not sure if they will ever give much more than a few bucks, if any, to a football facility.


- RobertN - 01-29-2004 02:25 PM

niu85alum Wrote:Lukolos:

You and several others apparently just don't get the situation. The Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center project has been on the wish list drawing board for years. All along, the plan has been to fund development of the facility 100% from contributions. Not one dime of money is coming from the operational coffers of NIU, as it should be. I am a strong supporter of the facility, to include financially. As my friend Mike Malone states, it will be a shrine and one of the centerpieces of our campus. It will serve both alumni and the recruiting needs of the university. Far too many alumni are completely unconnected to NIU. Research shows that many are "ashamed" of their former university. Along with the many other positive developments on campus in the last five years, the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center will serve to reconnect the alumni community.

In terms of price tag, since its 100% funded by contributions the sky is the limit. Whether donors have appetite to fund a $6 million or $60 million building is irrelevant to the discussion.

There is no "lets fund the alumni/visitor center" versus the "football facility" issue. They are unconnected topics. Like the alumni/visitor center, the plan all along has been for a football facility to be funded 100% from contributions. Like the alumni/visitor center, the first focus of effort is to raise sufficient up front dollars from large donors. Once/if $4 million or so can be raised from big fish, then the process will be opened to everyone for contribution. As reported several times, so far finding the "big fish" money has been slow going. Two separate individuals have ponied up around $700,000 of "contingent" money, meaning they reserve the right to back down should not enough other "big fish" money be drummed up within a certain time frame. Right now NIU is waiting/hoping for a major committment from a prominent individual that would be attached to sale of stock in a comany he/she is a big shareholder of. However, this person remains "squishy" in their committment.

To be totally frank, there seems to be much more appetite among alumni and key others for the alumni/visitor center versus a new football facility. Just look at how quickly NIU achieved its financial goals for the project once the "big fish" money was lined up. I am somewhat pessimistic a football facility even happens in the next five years. In talking to a handful of alumni friends of mine the last several weeks, without exception they are far more enthusiastic about giving a big financial gift to the alumni/visitor center. Even those who are big football fans are not sure if they will ever give much more than a few bucks, if any, to a football facility.
85:

We are all aware and understand the "big fish" route(although some disagree with it-not me) but will this alumni/visitor center REALLY help alumni "connect" with the University? As Lukulos states, he is a short way from the downtown center yet has never gone and likely wouldn't. If we can't get people from downtown to go to that one, who would ever use this one out in of DeKalb? If I am still here in DeKalb I might stop by when it opens just to see it but I will likely never go there again after that. I have never been in the current Alumni house and I graduated in '01. I can see the need for a visitors center with a small alumni area but something this big is just not needed. There IS a connection between the 2. There are only so many donors we have and there is only so much they can/are willing to give. This will take away from those who can/are willing to give to the football facility, so it may never get off the ground. Keeping a strong football program(and hopefully b-ball someday) IS important in getting OVERALL donations from alumni. It makes them proud of the school and makes more of them more willing to give. Will an alumni/visitor center do that? Doubtful.


- Guest - 01-29-2004 02:45 PM

RobertN Wrote:
niu85alum Wrote:Lukolos:

You and several others apparently just don't get the situation.  The Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center project has been on the wish list drawing board for years.  All along, the plan has been to fund development of the facility 100% from contributions.  Not one dime of money is coming from the operational coffers of NIU, as it should be.  I am a strong supporter of the facility, to include financially.  As my friend Mike Malone states, it will be a shrine and one of the centerpieces of our campus.  It will serve both alumni and the recruiting needs of the university.  Far too many alumni are completely unconnected to NIU.  Research shows that many are "ashamed" of their former university.  Along with the many other positive developments on campus in the last five years, the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center will serve to reconnect the alumni community.

In terms of price tag, since its 100% funded by contributions the sky is the limit.  Whether donors have appetite to fund a $6 million or $60 million building is irrelevant to the discussion. 

There is no "lets fund the alumni/visitor center" versus the "football facility" issue.  They are unconnected topics.  Like the alumni/visitor center, the plan all along has been for a football facility to be funded 100% from contributions.  Like the alumni/visitor center, the first focus of effort is to raise sufficient up front dollars from large donors.  Once/if $4 million or so can be raised from big fish, then the process will be opened to everyone for contribution.  As reported several times, so far finding the "big fish" money has been slow going.  Two separate individuals have ponied up around $700,000 of "contingent" money, meaning they reserve the right to back down should not enough other "big fish" money be drummed up within a certain time frame.  Right now NIU is waiting/hoping for a major committment from a prominent individual that would be attached to sale of stock in a comany he/she is a big shareholder of.  However, this person remains "squishy" in their committment.

To be totally frank, there seems to be much more appetite among alumni and key others for the alumni/visitor center versus a new football facility.  Just look at how quickly NIU achieved its financial goals for the project once the "big fish" money was lined up.  I am somewhat pessimistic a football facility even happens in the next five years.  In talking to a handful of alumni friends of mine the last several weeks, without exception they are far more enthusiastic about giving a big financial gift to the alumni/visitor center.  Even those who are big football fans are not sure if they will ever give much more than a few bucks, if any, to a football facility.
85:

We are all aware and understand the "big fish" route(although some disagree with it-not me) but will this alumni/visitor center REALLY help alumni "connect" with the University? As Lukulos states, he is a short way from the downtown center yet has never gone and likely wouldn't. If we can't get people from downtown to go to that one, who would ever use this one out in of DeKalb? If I am still here in DeKalb I might stop by when it opens just to see it but I will likely never go there again after that. I have never been in the current Alumni house and I graduated in '01. I can see the need for a visitors center with a small alumni area but something this big is just not needed. There IS a connection between the 2. There are only so many donors we have and there is only so much they can/are willing to give. This will take away from those who can/are willing to give to the football facility, so it may never get off the ground. Keeping a strong football program(and hopefully b-ball someday) IS important in getting OVERALL donations from alumni. It makes them proud of the school and makes more of them more willing to give. Will an alumni/visitor center do that? Doubtful.
Apparently logic and basic understanding are two things you didn't pick up in your NIU education. To repeat for the logic challenged. The alumni/visitor center project is 100% funded by contributions from alumni and other donors. The model to build a new football facility will be the same. How hard is this to understand? The donor community decides what gets built and what does not. In the case of the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center, the alumni and donor community has come out in strong support of the project via their pocketbook. Lining up big donor money was a fairly smooth task. Beyond the gift of $2.5 million from the Barsema family, a host of other significant contributors donated at the 5 figure and 6 figure level. The project was officially presented to everyone and opened for all to contribute during last year's homecoming game. Since then the dollars have poured in to the level where the project is now a go.

NOBODY PUT A GUN TO CONTRIBUTORS OF THE PROJECT. THEY HAVE SUPPORTED THIS PROJECT BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IN THIS PROJECT. Like me, many have enthusiastically and generoursly supported the concept. Why? Because many of us think the university came up with a wonderful concept to enhance the image of our campus, reconnect with alumni, and have an added vehicle to recruit the best and brightest students in the future.

FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME, THERE IS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ALUMNI/VISITOR CENTER AND A NEW FOOTBALL FACILITY. IF THERE IS SUPPORT AMONG THE ALUMNI AND DONOR COMMUNITY FOR THE CONCEPT OF A NEW FOOTBALL FACILITY, THEN IT WILL HAPPEN. If not, then it won't.

EXACTLY WHAT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND!!!!!


- Guest - 01-29-2004 02:52 PM

And another thing....for those of you alumni on this post board who "don't get" the logic for building the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center based on everything that has been reported in terms of what it will do for NIU and the like, then I am sad for you. It's exactly this type of mindset among too many alumni and others why NIU has attached to it such a nasty stigma.

Be proud of your university as an academic institution. And be proud about supporting it. Not just being an alumni who is a one dimensional sports geek who doesn't get the academic and overall mission of NIU. Some of these posts are downright embarassing. Instead of spending four years in undergrad at NIU, some of you sound like you would have been better off instead just getting that job of yours at the filling station four years earlier once you had completed high school. No sense wasting all that dough in DeKalb. Sometimes I feel like I'm communicating with $9,000 a year meter maids who hold an actual degree.

:mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:


- niu79 - 01-29-2004 03:04 PM

Alum,

I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Alumni/Visitors Center project. However, most everyone on this board would rather they solicit alumni contributions for a football facility, not an Alumni center. Its a matter of choice, and although I graduated with a degree in accounting 25 years ago I have zero interest in contributing to the Alumni project. However, I will continue to buy season football tickets and I will go to my share of games at the Convo Center. Why? Because the success of our athletic programs will do more to enhance the quality of my degree. Think about it, would Notre Dame have the same reputation and mystique if a hundred years ago the good fathers had decided to not play football?


- Guest - 01-29-2004 03:11 PM

niu79 Wrote:Alum,

I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Alumni/Visitors Center project.  However, most everyone on this board would rather they solicit alumni contributions for a football facility, not an Alumni center.  Its a matter of choice, and although  I graduated with a degree in accounting 25 years ago I have zero interest in contributing to the Alumni project.  However,  I will continue to buy season football tickets and I will go to my share of games at the Convo Center.  Why?  Because the success of our athletic programs will do more to enhance the quality of my degree.  Think about it, would Notre Dame have the same reputation and mystique if a hundred years ago the good fathers had decided to not play football?
You and I will have to disagree. I just don't see why people are "upset" that the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center project is getting built and how they think the project is "robbing" the ability to build a football facility. Your an accounting major and probably a smart chap. I trust the lack of correlation is apparent.

I am a big supporter of NIU athletics just like you. What infuriarates me to no end though are alumni who don't get the academic and overall mission of NIU. Tell me, without a football or basketball team would you care two cents about NIU? I sure the heck hope so. And I sure the heck hope you (and others) strongly contribute with your wallet.

I got my MBA from a prestigious big school in the Midwest. What has always struck me has been is that the vast bulk of former students "get" what the university is all about from the academic and overall perspective. The school is blessed with ample donor support and endowments. And happens to have an excellent athletic program that is also strongly supported.

It is worrisome when those connected to NIU don't get the message. It makes me wonder if the unversity will ever lose its nasty stigma with so many.


- Dog Fan - 01-29-2004 03:13 PM

niu85alum Wrote:And another thing....for those of you alumni on this post board who "don't get" the logic for building the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center project based on everything that you have read about its merits and what it will do for NIU, then I am sad for you.  It's exactly this type of mindset among too many alumni and others that gives NIU the nasty stigma that it has. 

Be proud of your university as an academic institution.  And be proud about supporting it.  Not just being an alumni who is a one dimensional sports geek who doesn't get the academic and overall mission of NIU.  Some of these posts are downright embarassing. 

:mad:  :mad:  :mad:  :mad:  :mad:
Calm down, niu85alum! This is a football board and most people here are more passionate about a football facility that will bring quality players - and more revenue - to NIU than they are about the alumi center. Of course, one has nothing to do with the other. The alumni center happens to be a pet project of yours and Barsema's, so of course you see this as all-important. Please don't denigrate those on this board who see the importance of a football facility. They are frustrated because they see other institutions building this sort of facility, and we cannot even come close. We are in grave risk of losing some superb recruits because we have the worst facilities in the nation. Why can't we generate the funds for this? It's because the vast majority of NIU grads and donors couldn't give a rat's ****** about NIU sports in general and football in particular. Unless this attitude changes, we will continue to be second rate in football. The alumni center is important to you, and that's wonderful. But please don't cop an attitude on the rest of us. 05-nono


- Guest - 01-29-2004 03:17 PM

Dog Fan:

I too see the need for a football facility. I too believe that a football facility will significantly raise the profile of the football team that I follow and therefore the school. I too will be a supporter of that project just like all the rest of you.

What makes me irate are people who don't get the full mission of NIU. And those who are apathetic toward the university outside of buying season tickets to sporting events and a soda pop at the concession stand.

Alum


- Dog Fan - 01-29-2004 03:18 PM

[quote="niu85alum"][quote="niu79"] Alum,

I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Alumni/Visitors Center project.


- Guest - 01-29-2004 03:21 PM

Dog Fan:

You are right on one point. Though it pains me to say this, NIU has been and probably always will be plagued by indifference for its football and men's hoops program. If we don't seize the moment with what Joe Novak has going, then NIU football is probably destined to wind up right back in the toilet. We do need to get a football facility done. But apparently far too few of us believe that or care. If NIU football goes back into the toilet I honesty don't know if the big majority of alumni, students and others will much care.


- Guest - 01-29-2004 03:31 PM

[quote="Dog Fan"] [quote="niu85alum"][quote="niu79"] Alum,

I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Alumni/Visitors Center project.


- Ear of Corn - 01-29-2004 03:34 PM

Interesting arguement, however, it doesn't suprise me one bit that people are more interested in a new football facility than the Alumni-Visitors Center.

Perhaps if this were the "Barsema Alumni-Visitor Centerbbs.com" site we would see a more receptive audience to this project.

IMHO, most of us that post and lurk on this site are proud of NIU regardless of the Alumni-Visitors Center. I think your (Alum85) reasoning for support of this project is passionate and logical. I think the tone of some of your posts can be interpreted as a bit righteous.

EoC


- HuskieJ - 01-29-2004 03:34 PM

I think people need to understand that you can not reach everyone with one message. If the Alumni Center attracts a person with an Academic focus to give to NIU or attach a top quality student, it is worth he investment. That person may have no interest in Athletics, so you need to draw them in this way. Have dinner in the Great Hall and mingle with Faculty in the Library. They would find that to be a good time. There is another (and I believe larger) group of people that equate success with Athletic performance, and this person will donate much more to Athletics than Academics. They are successful in business and love the competition. Both groups need to be addressed to make the University a success. I care a lot about coming from an Accounting program that is ranked #7 in the nation (and I never let my so called big time school co-workers forget it), but I also want to beat the B10 schools in football with an equal passion.


- Dog Fan - 01-29-2004 03:35 PM

[quote="niu85alum"]Dog Fan:

You are right on one point.


- niu79 - 01-29-2004 03:46 PM

Alum,

Since the campus west of Lucinda is an eyesore, could you propose a fund raiser to plant trees and shrubs. If so, I will gladly donate to the project. In 20 years when the trees are mature, the campus will be more pleasing to the eye. Even better will be the fundraiser to tear down Stevenson and Grant towers and replace them with low rise dormitories. A lot more green space would also be nice. What once were great fields for playing softball or touch football, have been replaced by parking lots, basketball courts and rec centers.


- Guest - 01-29-2004 03:48 PM

HuskieJ Wrote:I think people need to understand that you can not reach everyone with one message.  If the Alumni Center attracts a person with an Academic focus to give to NIU or attach a top quality student, it is worth he investment.  That person may have no interest in Athletics, so you need to draw them in this way.  Have dinner in the Great Hall and mingle with Faculty in the Library.  They would find that to be a good time.  There is another (and I believe larger) group of people that equate success with Athletic performance, and this person will donate much more to Athletics than Academics.  They are successful in business and love the competition.  Both groups need to be addressed to make the University a success.  I care a lot about coming from an Accounting program that is ranked #7 in the nation (and I never let my so called big time school co-workers forget it), but I also want to beat the B10 schools in football with an equal passion.
Good post. Except there is one flaw in your argument. I disagree that there is probably a larger base willing to support Huskie athletics versus the group willing to support other things (e.g., alumni/visitor center). The proof in the pudding is that the Alumni and Visitor center project has, in relative short order, been able to generate ample dollars from the big donor community as well as the general donor community. The football facility concept has actually been on the drawing table about as long as the alumni/visitor center. Yet we still can't line up sufficient big donor support. And doubt lingers whether enough interest exists among all donors assuming we even get past the big donor phase.