Northwestern’s campus is growing and changing. In the past two years, the DeWitt Family Science Center opened, Van Peursem Hall underwent renovations and the outdoor classroom was completed.
Now, NW plans to add the Frank and Lois Vogel Welcome Center, a $3 million, 8,800-square foot building, which will be placed north of Christ Chapel.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Oct. 2. Construction is set to be completed by the fall semester of 2021.
The ceremony was held during a Board of Trustees meeting and was attended by NW board members, supporters of the school and faculty and staff members. Speakers were Vice Presidents Jay Wielenga and Tamara Fynaardt as well as President Greg Christy.
Christy, Fynaardt and board member Tricia Vermeer broke ground on the construction site.
While this project may come as a surprise to some students, the Welcome Center has actually been in the works since 2012.
Tamara Fynaardt, vice president of enrollment and marketing, said during her speech that, in 2012, NW “worked with Credo Higher Education Consulting to develop a strategic plan and update our campus master plan.”
One of the facets of this new plan was to create a new Welcome Center that, as Christy explained, will “make a great first impression” on all those that visit NW.
Previously visiting students and their families had to walk across campus to reach Zwemer Hall for the beginning of their visitation. With the Welcome Center, a tailored welcome message will greet families as soon as they arrive.
The new center will house admissions, financial aid and marketing and will also have an office for the alumni director, according to Jackie Davis, dean of admissions.
Currently, these faculty members are housed in Zwemer Hall, but the campus has decided that a new building was needed to house these departments that had a more accessible floor plan, restrooms and other facilities that can best welcome guests to campus.
Creating a welcoming space was essential to the design of the building. Davis said that the design includes a large “living room” space with a fireplace that will present an inviting atmosphere and hopefully will give visitors a sense of “welcome home.”
The center will also provide much needed office space that will allow for Kepp Hall, behind the Learning Commons, to be emptied, which will make the space available for the new suite-style women’s resident hall that will be added within the next few years.
The building will be paid for with $2 million of donations from NW alumni and friends as well as a $1 million donation by Frank Vogel, one of the namesakes for the center.
Frank Vogel graduated from NW in 1947 when it was a junior college and later became a member of the Board of Trustees, which he has served on for several decades. He is also the former president and CEO of his company, Vogel Paint. His late wife, Lois, is also named and honored in the title of the new welcome center.
“[Lois] and Frank are deeply devoted followers of Christ and are passionate about the mission of Northwestern College,” Christy said. “They are also two very welcoming and hospitable people, so it is very fitting that our new Welcome Center will be named for them.”