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Dr. Kenneth and Ellen Chessick give $3 million to NIU Athletics to name indoor practice facility

September 17, 2011

Northern Illinois University supporters Dr. Kenneth and Ellen Chessick announced that they are continuing their long legacy of support for the university by donating $3 million to Huskie Athletics to name the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Facility. The gift is the largest ever made to Northern Illinois Athletics and the second-largest given to the university all-time.

The Chessicks, accompanied by Northern Illinois University President Dr. John Peters, Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher and Michael Malone, Vice-President for University Advancement, made the announcement during the Northern Illinois-Wisconsin football game at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday.

The Chessicks said their strong belief in the value that a successful athletic program brings to the entire university educational experience led them to the decision to provide the generous gift for the training facility.

“We are dedicated to helping to provide the best possible college education experience for our NIU students, and our student- athletes are instrumental to that positive experience,” the Chessicks said. “Providing this training facility for our dedicated student-athletes to continue our winning tradition at NIU is a privilege for us. 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.”

Peters noted the impact the gift and the building will have on Northern Illinois Athletics’ success going forward.

“The tremendous support that Kenneth and Ellen Chessick have shown toward Northern Illinois University and its students is extraordinary,” Peters said.  “The Chessick’s most recent gift to the university will not only benefit our student-athletes and coaches, but I believe that it is further evidence of the ascent of the Huskie athletic program.

“We aspire to do great things at NIU, both in the classroom and in the area of athletic competition. The indoor practice facility will elevate our academic and athletic training complex to among the best in the Mid-American Conference – if not the nation. We are truly grateful to both Ken and Ellen Chessick for their commitment to NIU to help provide the best possible resources for student success both on and off the field.”

Dr. Kenneth Chessick, a surgeon and attorney who graduated from the Northern Illinois College of Law in 1984 and from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1968, and his wife, Ellen, have devoted themselves to student academic success for many years.

The Kenneth C. Chessick Legal Training Skills Center was established at the NIU College of Law in 2004 and in 2007, Dr. Chessick created a series of scholarships named in honor of his clients.  There are currently five endowed scholarships in the Kenneth C. Chessick Civil Justice Endowed Scholarship Program which are presented annually to students in the Northern Illinois University College of Law. Last year, the Chessicks extended their generosity to the College of Business by creating the Professorship of Interactive Marketing, funded through Dr. Chessick’s corporation.

Dr. Chessick was named the NIU Alumnus of the Year in 2001. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the NIU Foundation, and serves on the Board of Visitors to the NIU College of Law. His firm, The Law Offices of Dr. Kenneth C. Chessick, M.D., in Schaumburg, Ill., has achieved record verdicts at trial and settlements in excess of $100 million, while working primarily in the area of medical and hospital negligence and personal injury.

Ellen Chessick earned her bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago and has an MBA in finance from DePaul University.  A financial manager whose volunteer service for Northern Illinois includes co-chairing the NIU Foundation’s Red & Black Gala, Mrs. Chessick, along with her husband, is a native of Chicago and an ardent Huskie fan.

By providing the naming gift for Northern Illinois Athletics’ next major capital project, the Chessicks will make an impact on all NIU student-athletes in support of the Huskie athletic department’s mission, said Compher.

“Ken and Ellen are great people and wonderful supporters of Huskie student-athletes, with an emphasis on the ‘student’ aspect of that equation,” Compher said. “They have a strong appreciation for NIU Athletics’ mission of Developing Champions, in the Classroom, in Competition and in Life. With this gift, Northern Illinois has taken a huge step toward making this building, which will benefit each of our 17 sports programs, a reality.  Our coaches, staff and especially our student-athletes are immensely grateful to the Chessicks for their commitment to this project and to the Huskies.”

Mallory Simpson, President and CEO of the NIU Foundation, noted the leadership aspect of the Chessicks’ gift.

“Ken and Ellen Chessick have made previous major gifts to the Colleges of Law and Business and play important volunteer roles with the NIU Foundation and College of Law,” Simpson said.  “That they have chosen to step up as the leading donors for this important university project is further evidence of their vision, passion and pride, as well as their endless dedication to the success of NIU students.  Their monumental gift will inspire many others to follow.  On behalf of the NIU Foundation Board of Directors, I extend our heartfelt thanks.”

Preliminary plans for the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Facility call for an 80,000-plus square foot building to be constructed on the north side of the Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center.  The surface will consist of an artificial turf field and four-lane sprint track, while batting cages and a retractable center net will allow multi-sport use.  The climate-controlled venue will provide a much-needed area for Huskie student-athletes in all sports to practice and train during the winter months and throughout the year.

Following Saturday’s announcement of the Chessicks’ leadership gift to build and name the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Facility, a full fundraising campaign will be launched in the near future.