Welcome center breaks ground

Students, faculty and staff gathered outside of Wheaton College’s Beamer Center on Nov. 1 to celebrate the groundbreaking of the highly anticipated Welcome Center.
Photo credit Haley Duba
Consideration for a welcome center has been longstanding. Amanda Morris reported for The Record in 2014 that plans were in progress for a new welcome center for the college. Two years later, those plans have officially been set in motion.
Photo credit Haley Duba
At the moment of groundbreaking, a confetti cannon showered attendees with biodegradable confetti. The cannon was borrowed from Wrigley Field and returned the same day in anticipation of the Cubs’ celebration rally, according to Erin Shade, director of development programs and campaign director of “From the Heart, For the Kingdom.”
Event speakers included Vice President for Advancement, Vocation and Alumni Engagement Kirk Farney, Provost Margaret Diddams, Director of Undergraduate Admissions Shawn Wynne, sophomore Jake Wierenga and President Philip Ryken. Senior Lois Rood closed the ceremony with a hymn.
The recently launched $175 million, two-year “From the Heart, For the Kingdom” capital campaign will provide funding for the Welcome Center, as well as for the new Performing Arts Center, Christ at the Core curriculum, the Center for Vocation and Career, the Wheaton Fund, planned gifts, need-based scholarships and efforts aimed at deepening ethnic diversity and strengthening global and experiential learning.
As of Nov. 9, 93 percent of the $4 million needed to complete the Welcome Center had been received, according to Shade. The remaining seven percent is expected to come within the next few months, and the campaign officially ends in June 2018.
The Welcome Center will serve as the new “front door” to campus — a much-needed addition according to one outside consultant who said the current Admissions location, hidden above the college Bookstore, made visitors feel “unwelcome and not anticipated,” according to Wheaton magazine. The consultant “correlated our building with a feeling that we didn’t care about visitors,” director of admissions Shawn Wynne told the magazine.
In just one week, the site has transformed from a grassy plateau into a boisterous construction site. College architect Bruce Koenigsberg told the Daily Herald that the “sacred space” lining College Avenue will make the Welcome Center even more pronounced and easy to find. “By placing a singular building on the front lawn, it says this is special, it’s
the place to start your experience,” said Koenigsberg.
Director of Facilities Scott Okesson predicts the project to be completed by October 2017.

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