Cornell acquires space for Chicago Center

Cornell College has purchased a building that will reopen next fall as the college’s McLennan Center in Chicago. The center is made possible by a $1 million gift from alumni Bob McLennan ’65 and Becky Martin McLennan ’64 during the college’s recently-completed Extraordinary Opportunities Campaign.

An exterior view of the building the college purchased to be home to a new Chicago Center.

With Cornell’s distinctive One Course At A Time schedule, faculty and students are able to spend 3 ½ weeks studying in and exploring Chicago. Historically, however, students stayed in hotels and used public spaces for classrooms. The McLennan Center will now meet these needs, featuring a dedicated classroom and permanent living space for students and faculty.

“We’re excited to move forward with plans for the McLennan Center in Chicago,” said Cornell President Jonathan Brand. “Chicago is a natural place for Cornell to offer courses because of its proximity and the wealth of opportunities and events available for our students. Because of the generosity of Bob and Becky, even more students will be able to study off campus in a major city when their classes call for it, while enjoying the small class size and personal attention from faculty that are hallmarks of a Cornell education.”

The building, located on North Seminary Avenue in the Lakeview Community, is approximately four blocks from Wrigley Field, and two blocks from the Belmont L stop served by the red, brown and purple lines. While the property is located on a relatively quiet street, it is within two blocks of many shops and restaurants.

The facility is currently leased and will remain leased until the summer of 2012. At that time, the college will ready the facility for use by Cornell students in the fall of 2012.

The gift was announced in 2009 and led to significant interest from faculty whose courses would benefit from Chicago residencies. Cornell already offers three to four classes annually that can take advantage of the McLennan Center, according to Joe Dieker, dean of the college, and he’s asked faculty to develop new courses that can be held there. He said the center will likely also be used for summer classes starting in 2013, as well as Chicago alumni events.

Becky McLennan said she and her husband are pleased with the progress so far and the location of the center. “It was more difficult than expected to find the right building,” she said, “but we’re very excited about the location. We’re glad that Cornell will soon have a place to bring even more students who can benefit from what Chicago has to offer.”

Bob McLennan said they hope that the center will help recruit new students, educate current students, and engage alumni. “Suddenly, Cornell isn’t 200 miles away,” he said, “it’s right in Chicago.”