Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, trustees, staff and guests honored alumni Gordon and Carole Segal for their generosity and vision April 28 during a formal dedication of the Segal Visitors Center, the new lakefront gateway to the Evanston campus. The setting was breathtaking.
“We have the most beautiful view in the world,” Schapiro said as he welcomed nearly 150 people who attended the official opening of the gleaming new center, where seats in the auditorium face east through a huge glass window onto a spectacular vista of Lake Michigan. “This is a dream come true — an absolute dream come true.”
Schapiro praised the dedication and vision of Gordon '60 and Carole Segal '60, co-founders of Crate & Barrel and longtime supporters of Northwestern, who committed approximately $10 million to the University through a planned gift.
Schapiro and the Segals — along with Bill Osborn '69, '73 MBA, chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Ralph Johnson, global design director of Perkins+Will, the building’s architects — cut a ceremonial purple ribbon to dedicate the center.
As chair of the Educational Properties Committee of the Board of Trustees, Gordon Segal has helped create a Campus Master Plan for building and renovation of Northwestern’s campuses, including the construction and transformation now underway on Evanston’s lakefront campus. In honor of their contributions to Northwestern, the University recognized the Segals by naming the University’s new visitors center the Segal Visitors Center.
“All of this is leading us to developing a much more vital campus. It’s a new Northwestern,” declared Gordon Segal in his remarks. “It’s something that is going to be really important when people come here, and instead of being enclosed by concrete and stone, they are going to be enclosed by glass — so they can look out at the lake and look out at the gardens and look out at the park-like scenery of this University. It’s really going to be special.”
President Schapiro also cited the other major new buildings being added — such as the completed Music and Communication Building, the Kellogg Global Hub going up now and the planned Lakefront Athletics and Recreation Complex to be completed in the future. He also noted the major renovations completed, underway and planned for existing buildings.
“All you have to do is walk around the campus and in building after building, we see magnificent improvement,” he said. But the president was most passionate when speaking about the contributions of the Segals.
“The Segal legacy is just extraordinary at Northwestern University,” he said.
“I am so proud to be associated with the two of you, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart, not just for the Visitors Center,” he added, “but I’m saluting you for 50 other buildings that you have done — and not just your financial generosity, but the incredible time you have given back to your alma mater. We were incredibly lucky when the Segals decided to come to Northwestern University.”
Michael Mills, associate provost for University enrollment, called the building “a beautiful new front door for Northwestern” and enumerated the many ways it has transformed how prospective students and their families meet and interact with the University. He noted that students come with high expectations, and it is important for the admissions process to give a powerful first impression of Northwestern. More than 50,000 visitors come to campus annually, he said.
Gordon Segal, who retired as CEO of Crate & Barrel in 2008, is a life member of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees. He received a bachelor’s degree in business from Northwestern in 1960.
Carole Browe Segal graduated from Northwestern in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Carole is co-founder of Crate & Barrel and founder and former CEO of Foodstuffs Inc. She is on the Board of Visitors of the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is past president of the Northwestern Women’s Board and received the Alumni Medal in 2008. The couple met at Northwestern and co-founded Crate & Barrel in 1962.
The Segals’ most recent gift will count toward We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, a $3.75 billion University-wide fundraising effort announced in March 2014. The money raised will help realize the transformational vision set forth in Northwestern’s strategic plan and will solidify the University’s position among the world’s leading research universities.
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