Wyllie Hall Grand Re-opening and Open House
It was a night of celebration, reflection, and gratitude as UW-Parkside commemorated the completion of the Wyllie Hall renovation project with the Wyllie Hall Grand Re-opening and Open House on Thursday, Sept. 15. Community members, faculty, staff, students, and our many advocates and partners gathered to share stories from the project and explore the new spaces that the hard work has yielded.
Chancellor Debbie Ford emphasized the importance of the project for the mission of the university by quoting Chancellor Irvin Wyllie. Wyllie once said, “The University of Wisconsin-Parkside has been and will continue to be the place where ideas are born, challenged and changed and a learning community that enriches minds, changes lives, and brightens futures.”
This celebration of the recently completed Wyllie Hall Renewal Project was free and open to the public and featured the dedication of Brookwood Foundation Main Place, named in honor of the generous multi-year gift of the Heide Family.
The Wyllie Hall Renewal Project, a $35.4 million state-funded initiative, updated infrastructure and key learning spaces in UW-Parkside’s Wyllie Hall, which opened in 1972. In recognition of donor support of student success, Wyllie Hall is now home to the Callahan Family Student Success & Learning Commons, the Brookwood Foundation Main Place, and the award-winning Library.
Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration, Scott Menke said, "We are grateful to all those who contributed to the success of the Wyllie Renovation Project: current and past employees who spent countless hours planning for this project, UW System for their support in putting the project request together, the Division of Facilities Development who helped manage the project, the architects and engineers who helped translate the desires and dreams of the project into reality, the legislators who believed in the mission of UW-Parkside and supported the project, and the State of Wisconsin for their substantial investment in our students’ success, the future of our state."
Chief Facilities Officer, John Bruch said, "In August of 2017, I was two months into my role as Facilities Management Director at UW-Parkside. The Chancellor was hosting a welcome social at her residence for new employees. I arrived to a packed house, and not two minutes after arriving I was standing face-to-face with Debbie Ford. She had a big beaming smile on her face as she said to me, “You’re about to get a lot busier!” That was the moment I found out that we had received the funding for the Wyllie Hall renovations."
Bruch noted that it is a particular point of pride for UW-Parkside that all three of the primary contractors for the project are local Kenosha-area businesses. The campus has done other projects over the years utilizing these contractors, but nothing of this magnitude. We were pleased to be able to work with contractors that know our campus and take pride in working in their community.
He also thanked the university community for their input, enthusiasm and patience during this transformative project. He concluded, "You all made my job and the project team’s job much easier by the grace you showed all of us during this journey. This truly has been a transformative project for the campus."
Anna Stadick, UW-Parkside Library Director, recalls that after the work was almost completed, Director of Facilities John Bruch asked her to gather student feedback about the new library spaces. Stadick explains, "We asked our students on social media and whiteboards how they felt. Their comments came back, positive and grateful! Do you know what the most common response was? I was sure it would be the café or furniture, but students most often talked about the lighting."
She posited that while examining all the other details, one might not look up and see the beautiful, bright, lights, perfectly placed to match the window spacing as the original architects intended, drawing the natural landscape of campus into the buildings.
"Students said that the light has made the library a good place to read, to use computers, that it makes them feel happy and safe. When those lights turn on, I see the university’s belief in the library as central to its mission," Stadick said.
Kristina Klemens, Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid, recalls her departments space before the remodel and recollects the tour guide explaining the services the units provide to students and ending it saying that they could find them down the dark, creepy hallway.
"Our dark, creepy, intimidating hallway is a thing of the past, replaced by this vibrant, bright space. When you come to see us, I know you’ll be greeted with smiles, and people ready to help. I am so grateful every day for the opportunity to work with our amazing students and with this fabulous team, and I thank you for coming to see our beautiful new space, today," Klemens stated.
Klemens adds that while all of the renovations greatly benefits students, the impact on our faculty and staff cannot be understated. For her area especially, it hass brought them all together as a team and encouraged open communication and collaboration to better serve UW-Parkside students.
UW-Parkside is excited to recognize the generous gift of the Heide family with the dedication of the Brookwood Foundation Main Place. The C.P. and Anna Heide Scholarship was established in 2018 to benefit students with financial need. When fully endowed in the UW-Parkside Foundation, the family’s latest commitment will provide multiple, full-tuition scholarships each year, for years to come.
UW-Parkside student and Heide Scholarship recipient Regiah Cosey said, "The Brookwood Foundation’s creation of this scholarship is a gift to me, and to so many future Parkside students. I’ll be proud to walk through Wyllie Hall and see their name every day on the Brookwood Foundation Main Place to recognize their scholarship investment. It is life-changing for students, and it’s changed our campus too."
Charles Heide Jr., Co-Trustee of Brookwood Foundation and UW-Parkside class of ’84 Alumni said, "The act of being generous, kind and compassionate was taught and model by our parents, Chuck and Kathryn Heide. They are missed but would have been so proud of this moment. It was their leadership that created Brookwood Foundation in 2001," Heide Said.
"Central to its mission is student advancement through scholarship support, endowments and chairs. Our parents were unconquerable and enduring as their own advancements in teaching and technology inspired the next generation purse their goals, passions and objectives.," he added.
Chancellor Ford emphasized that the enhancements to Wyllie Hall will indeed enrich minds, change lives, and brighten futures. She also reflects on the journey that culminated in this event.
"Over the past couple of years, we’ve had an opportunity to evaluate and reflect on what is really important to us. For UW-Parkside, that is our community and our students. Despite all of the challenges of the pandemic and the construction efforts, we have been able to continue growing and continue to graduate record numbers of students," Ford said.
She also acknowledged the vital contributions and support of so many in our community. "These accomplishments are in no small part due to the meticulous and tireless efforts of our many people working together to make the transformation of Wyllie Hall a reality. On behalf of the University, we are so honored and humbled to be able to say thank you for everything that you have done for us, for our students, and for our communities," Ford said.
During the open house, attendees were invited to visit the Callahan Family Student Success & Learning Commons, named in honor of the Callahan family’s investment in a new scholarship program for UW-Parkside students. This newly renovated space is home to many offices and services vital for student success.
Following the dedication, there was a reception with refreshments provided and an open house of the many new spaces throughout Wyllie Hall, including the Callahan Commons and the award-winning UW-Parkside Library.