EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro, trustees, staff and guests honored Gordon and Carole Segal for their generosity and vision Tuesday (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,” the president said as he welcomed nearly 150 people attending 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.”
President Schapiro praised the dedication and vision of Gordon and Carole Segal, co-founders of Crate & Barrel and longtime supporters of Northwestern, their alma mater (Class of 1960), who committed approximately $10 million to the University through a planned gift.
President Schapiro and the Segals -- along with Bill Osborn, 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.
President Schapiro and the Segals joined Michael Mills, associate provost for enrollment management, and Alexis Harrell ’12, a graduate admissions counselor at the center, to address the crowd with great passion about how the Segal Visitors Center and other new buildings on the lakefront are transforming the entire campus. They also joked a number of times about the distracting beauty of the lakefront background as joggers and others passed by occasionally.
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.”
Segal went on to discuss the vision he and others had to hire the best architects and hold competitions to produce the best designs in order to bring lovely, state-of-the-art buildings that would transform Northwestern’s lakefront campus and provide the best possible experience for students, faculty and staff. That even included the concept of taking the lower levels of new parking structures on the north and south ends of the campus and using them creatively, converting them into important uses for the University.
“We should create things that are really going to be spectacular,” Segal declared, discussing the transformation of the campus. Segal also extolled the new Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center building that will rise on the Chicago campus soon as “the most beautiful medical center in America.” The formal groundbreaking for that structure will be May 8.
“As a trustee, I am so proud of what this administration has done, what the whole talented team of educators at this place does,” he concluded. “If we build great buildings, we will make this University a spectacular new Northwestern. Thank you all for this wonderful honor.”
Northwestern opened the Segal Visitors Center for prospective students and their families last fall, and the Office of Admission has already welcomed thousands of parents and prospective students coming to visit, including more than 1,000 people who passed through the building on a single day (April 3) last month, a record number.
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.”
Situated on the southeast corner of the Evanston campus at 1841 Sheridan Road, the Segal Visitors Center features broad views of Lake Michigan and the new Northwestern University Sailing Center. The 170,000-square-foot visitors facility, designed by Chicago architectural firm Perkins+Will, includes a 160-seat auditorium, meeting rooms, offices for admission staff and waiting areas for visitors.
Mills 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.
Harrell talked about the improvements that the Segal Visitors Center has brought to the admissions process in the six months since she and other admissions counselors have worked in the building.
“It still makes me smile when we have prospective students and their parents who walk into our lobby and are speechless, because our view of Lake Michigan literally takes their breath away,” she said. “The Segal Visitors Center has already allowed us to bring in more visitors than we ever could have over at 1801 [Hinman Avenue].
“For me, more visitors coming through these doors mean more opportunities for me to share all of the amazing things I was able to do thanks to Northwestern,” Harrell added. “I am looking forward to watching this new center continue to bring in record-breaking numbers of students and families over time, and help them develop a love for Northwestern, just like I have.”
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.
Gordon and Carole Segal co-chaired their 50th reunion at Northwestern in 2010, and Carole has been a member of the Northwestern University Women’s Board since 1981.
Gordon and Carole Segal have given annually to Northwestern since 1986 -- 29 consecutive years of supporting the University. In 2007, they made a significant gift to establish the Segal Design Institute at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Kellogg School of Management. Other gifts have supported various parts of the University, including Kellogg, Northwestern University Library, Weinberg College and athletics.
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 solidify the University’s position among the world’s leading research universities.
See more in Northwestern News