McLennans give $1 million to create Cornell College Chicago center

MOUNT VERNON —Bob McLennan ’65 and Becky Martin McLennan ’64 of Chicago have pledged $1 million in order to establish the McLennan Center in Chicago, a Cornell College satellite facility that will accommodate off-campus courses that will service the school’s distinctive One Course At A Time calendar.


“We wanted to do something, and we wanted it to be something that we both had some passion about doing,” said Bob McLennan. “One Course At A Time is unique, and we wanted to find a way for Cornell to leverage that.”

Under the One Course At A Time calendar, students study a single subject for a 3 1/2-week term over a nine-term school year.

The McLennan Center will house as many as two classes every month on Cornell’s system, providing both living space and classrooms. The center will not only allow for an expansion of Cornell’s academic catalogue, but will make current off-campus classes more affordable to a wider array of students.

The McLennans also envision the campus servicing Cornell’s expansive alumni population in Chicago.

“We have a significant number of alumni in Chicago, and somehow I think a physical presence brings Cornell closer to them. The college is no longer 200 miles away, it’s right here,” said McLennan, a Cornell trustee since 2007.

“The McLennans have helped open an exciting new chapter in our academic programming with the McLennan Center in Chicago,” said Cornell College President Les Garner. “The Chicago center will provide opportunities that would not have been otherwise available. We are very grateful to the McLennans for their generosity.”

Bob McLennan graduated from Cornell with a major in economics and business administration before earning his law degree at the University of Illinois. He and a partner then started a real estate development and commercial and industrial construction company called McLennan & Thebault, Inc. Later he became the majority shareholder and chairman of the board of a medium-sized bank.

In 1994 he sold McLennan & Thebault, and then sold the bank in 2002. He currently runs a management company that invests in private equity and real estate.

The McLennans’ gift is part of Cornell College’s comprehensive campaign Extraordinary Opportunities: The Campaign for Cornell College which will continue through June 2010. The campaign will enhance the Cornell experience by increasing the college’s endowment, upgrading its facilities, and enhancing academic programs.

For more information about the campaign or making a gift, visit or contact Peter Wilch, Vice President for Alumni and College Advancement at 319-895-4315 or