Hundreds of Northern Illinois University faithful turned out Saturday for the ribbon-cutting and open house at NIU’s latest privately funded facility, the Kenneth & Ellen Chessick Practice Center.
“My wife and I are privileged to be a part of this tremendous occasion and hope to see the years of our hard work help the students at our beloved alma mater, NIU,” Kenneth C. Chessick said in a statement.
The state-of-the-art 87,000 square-foot indoor practice facility will be used by all Huskie student-athletes and features a full-size, 120-yard practice field with two end zones and buffer space around the field in addition to batting cages, long jump pits and a four-lane sprint track.
“Providing this training facility for our dedicated student athletes to continue our winning tradition at NIU is a privilege for us,” Chessick said.
“NIU athletic prowess is an important element of university life, which unites the entire campus – students, faculty, administration, alums and fans – and builds passion, loyalty and engagement. With this gift, we hope to enhance the experience for all NIU students, and especially our dedicated student-athletes.”
Kenneth Chessick, a surgeon and attorney who graduated from the NIU College of Law in 1984, is the chairman of the board, creator and majority owner of Restaurant.com. He received his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1968.
He also established the Kenneth C. Chessick Legal Training Skills Center at the NIU College of Law in 2004, and three years later he created a series of annual Kenneth C. Chessick Civil Justice Endowed Scholarships named in honor of his legal clients. The Chessicks’ generosity has extended to students across campus, including the NIU College of Business.
At the ceremony, Chessick told the crowd it is never too late to give back to NIU. On Thursday, he delivered the figurative “Last Lecture,” an annual speech sponsored by the NIU chapter of Mortar Board Honor Society. Chessick’s presentation, “How an Ordinary Guy Can Do Extraordinary Things,” was given at the Barsema Hall Auditorium.
Earlier that day, NIU Athletics announced the resumption of the Legacy Brick Campaign, enabling more fans to become a permanent part of Huskie Athletics on the Northern Illinois campus. Huskie fans and supporters can purchase bricks through April 30, 2014.
NIU held the groundbreaking ceremony for the Chessick Practice Center on April 21, 2012 and construction on the six-story structure began in October of 2012.
Naming donors Dr. Kenneth and Ellen Chessick made their gift in September 2011 and private fundraising, spurred by 29 leadership donor gifts, reached the $9.5 million dollar goal over the summer.
It was the first building project by the NIU Foundation to attract three gifts of $1 million or more. In addition to Ken and Ellen Chessick, the other million-dollar donors are Dennis and Stacey Barsema and Jeff and Kimberly Yordon.