Alumna’s history with chapel draws donation

MOUNT VERNON – A Cornell alumna’s $130,000 donation will help renovate Cornell College’s historic King Chapel and repair the aging organ.

Lois SiebenLois Wilkinson Sieben, a 1938 graduate of Cornell, learned to play the organ and the piano at the college, and went on to become a church organist and piano teacher.

King Chapel will be undergoing renovations and repairs as part of a campus-wide refurbishing of the campus, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in its entirety. The chapel has a long history of hosting famous visitors, from Martin Luther King Jr., to Antonin Scalia, to, recently, George Stephanopoulos.

But to Sieben, the history of King Chapel is so much more personal.

“I’m grateful that I was able to do this. The chapel has meant a lot to me,” Sieben says. “I spent so much time in King Chapel and at the organ. My husband gave my diamond ring to me in the chapel in April of my senior year.”

The gift will cover $30,000 in immediate organ repairs, while the remaining $100,000 will be used for King Chapel renovations.

“We’re grateful for Lois’ generous gift,” said Vice President for Alumni and College Advancement Peter Wilch. “King Chapel is the centerpiece of our campus, and her gift will help ensure it continues to serve as a gathering place for our community for generations to come.”

The Lois Sieben’s gift is part of Cornell College’s comprehensive campaign Extraordinary Opportunities: The Campaign for Cornell College which will continue through December 2009. The campaign will enhance the Cornell experience by increasing the college’s endowment, upgrading its facilities, and enhancing the academic program.

For more information about the campaign or making a gift, visit