Ground breaks on Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center

Shovels hit the dirt in early October 2004 when NIU broke ground on its new $6.2 million Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center, set to open in the fall.

Construction has remained on schedule and its completion is anticipated to be complete by the middle of October.

Plans for the project were announced almost two years ago during Homecoming, when NIU launched the campaign to raise money for the center.

The project got a much-needed boost from Dennis and Stacey Barsema, who contributed $2.5 million to get the project started. When the Barsemas made the donation, others joined them by giving donations so the project could be announced and started, said Mike Malone, vice president of University Advancement.

The NIU Alumni Association also donated $500,000. As of January, donors have given $5.7 million to the project, about 92 percent of the $6.2 million goal, Malone said.

The two-acre construction site, located at the intersection of Annie Glidden Road and Stadium Drive, was chosen for its close proximity to the residence halls, Malone said. The center will feature a ballroom with table seating for 240, a board room that will be used by university and community organizations and a faculty library where faculty can gather for seminars.

“It’s going to be a front door to the university for returning alumni, prospective students and the community,” Malone said.