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Building stands as a bridge between past and present

The Student Fitness Center and McCormick Hall were dedicated on February 18, 2011. Above, a rough layout of floors 1-3, from bottom to top.

The commitment and determination required to make the Student Fitness Center and McCormick Hall a reality were lauded during a dedication ceremony held in February.

“The first recognition, the first congratulations, and most importantly the first thank you must go to the students of Illinois State University,” President Al Bowman said. “With state resources unavailable, it was members of our student body who stated their passion for a first-class fitness center by voting to raise their own fees to help pay for this magnificent facility.”

Bowman noted the prolonged effort to see the building completed, sharing the old adage of “dream big dreams, then put on your overalls. At Illinois State University, we have done both to make this dream come true.”

The building is a testament to collaboration within the campus community, as well as strong partnerships with many beyond the University’s borders. Bowman thanked the litany of architects, consultants, engineers and contractors involved from planning through construction. He also expressed sincere gratitude to individuals who are loyal friends to Illinois State, including Board of Trustee Robert Dobski and his wife, Julie.

The welcome center has been named in honor of the Dobskis, who made a very generous gift to the building. “That’s not so everyone will see our name and talk about us, but to show a local business is involved,” Bob said.

The couple owns nine McDonald’s franchises in Central Illinois and two Little Jewels Learning Centers. Both were staunch supporters of the University and actively involved in Athletics as a program sponsor long before Bob was appointed to the Board of Trustees three years ago.

In addition to the Student Fitness Center and McCormick Hall gift, they have established the Edmund and Jane Endowed Scholarship Fund in support of College of Business students. The fund honors Bob’s parents, who started a grocery business in Chicago. It was from his parents that Bob gained a strong work ethic and business savvy. He and Julie both carry on the family legacy to work hard and help others.

“We are very blessed and fortunate, having had help to create our own opportunities. We want to do the same for others,” Julie said, explaining the motivation for their gifts to Illinois State.
Bob agreed. “We have been very successful through the support of  the community and we just want to give back.”

Doing so is just one way the Dobskis bridge their past to the present, which was an important element of the entire Student Fitness Center and McCormick Hall project. As Bowman noted in his dedication remarks, pieces of Dunn-Barton and Walker halls were retained in the construction and McCormick Hall was preserved. Doing so creates another shining example of how “Illinois State is a university where vision meets heritage.”

Editor’s note: Several naming opportunities are still available. Each provides a chance to create a family legacy, honor a mentor, or remember a friend. To find out how you can write your name into this new chapter of Illinois State’s history, call (309) 438-8184.

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