Durhams donate $250,000 to Commons project

MOUNT VERNON — A $250,000 gift from Tom and the Rev. Martha Hemenway Durham will help provide a much-needed face-lift to the center point of Cornell College, The Commons.

durham1The Durhams are both Cornell graduates of the late 1970s, just over 10 years after The Commons opened. Now, 30 years later, the couple saw a need to upgrade the center that not only serves as a student hang out and dining hall, but as a gathering place for events, visitors, and education.

“In visiting potential colleges with our youngest son, we realized the unique role that a student center plays in the life of a college. The student center serves as the ‘front-door’ of a college,” said Durham. “While The Commons continues to serve Cornell in this role, we are pleased that our contribution will enable Cornell to restore and renew The Commons.”

Tom Durham has been a Chicago-area lawyer for almost 29 years, and is a partner at Mayer Brown LLP. His wife Martha was ordained a Deacon in 2008 and serves St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Park Ridge, Ill.

“We are truly thankful to have friends like Tom and Martha Durham,” said Cornell President Les Garner. “Their generous gift will help us strengthen The Commons’ role as a campus and community center.”

The Durham’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 cornellcollege.edu/campaign or contact Peter Wilch, Vice President for Alumni and College Advancement at 319-895-4315 or pwilch@cornellcollege.edu.