EC’s Center for Professional Excellence (CPE) will receive a $2.25 million donation from Board of Trustee members Russell and Joyce Weigand, according to an announcement made by president VanAken during his inaugural address on Saturday, Oct. 22.
In honor of the donation, the CPE will be renamed the “Russell G. Weigand Center for Professional Excellence.”
“The Weigands’ gift will create an endowment for the Center for Professional Excellence, ensuring the College is better able to prepare future generations of students for their careers after graduation,” VanAken said during the announcement.
Although the donation is news to the campus community, Russell Weigand said he has had the idea since the CPE was first established 20 years ago.
“The idea was given to me almost 20 years ago by former president Bryant Cureton,” he said.
“We were sitting around a dining room table and he raised the question, ‘What constitutes a professional?’... and that gave birth to the Center for Professional Excellence,” he added.
Weigand believes the CPE is one of EC’s biggest strengths, making it worth investing in.
“I’ve been following this now for 20 years and I think it’s the most distinctive part of the Elmhurst College program, the way we link professional education with the liberal arts,” he said. “That’s why Joyce and I were just absolutely thrilled to be able to express this support.” Although he was unaware of his role in the donation, Bryant Cureton, the 12th president of EC and Weigand’s inspiration for the donation called it “the best kind of investment."
"I didn't know I was planting a seed, but now that the seed has planted and has matured, it will hopefully plant more seeds of its own,” he said.
Weigand agreed that inspiring more people to give back to EC is an important aspect of his donation.
“The other thing that I hope will happen here is other people will want to have the same experience, the same joy [of giving], because this is a fantastic institution and we need more people to step up,” he said.
Although it has not yet been decided what exactly the money will be used for, Lawrence Carroll, executive director of the CPE, expressed his gratitude for the donation.
“I’m honored to be able to move forward and work with Russ on this and engage our students and faculty more,” he said.