EUREKA — Retired Eureka College history professor Richard Sanders of Eureka has given the college its largest one-time gift in the school’s history, President J. David Arnold announced at commencement ceremonies Saturday.
The $3 million gift will be used to build an expansion to Vennum-Binkley Hall, which houses science classrooms and labs. Groundbreaking for Sanders Hall will be in May 2014 with an anticipated completion date of May 2015.
“Morning Joe” Scarborough addressed the 185 members of the class of 2013 in Reagan Gymnasium, telling them “you need to cling to your faith: faith in yourself, faith in your country and faith in your God.”
“You have the ability to bend history in the future,” he said.
Currently the host of a morning news commentary show on MSNBC called “Morning Joe,” Scarborough served as a Republican U.S. congressman from Florida from 1994 to 2001. In 2011, Scarborough was named to the Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Scarborough used President Ronald Reagan, a 1932 graduate of Eureka College, as an example of someone who never lost faith in the country.
“Faith in America was The Gipper’s guiding light,” he told the graduates, referring to Reagan’s role as George “The Gipper” Gipp in the film “Knute Rockne, All American.”
Telling the graduates “it’s now your time,” Scarborough encouraged them to continue that legacy as they go out into the world. He told them to escape the morass of the “me, me, me” generation in which “every mundane thought is broadcast on Facebook” and to find “meaning beyond yourself.”
In announcing the monetary gift from Sanders, Arnold said during his eight years as college president there have been about $10 million in campus renovations and new structures, including a new dormitory, Ivy Hall. Sanders gave an undisclosed amount of money for the construction of Ivy Hall’s atrium lobby, also named for him, in 2011.
Arnold said the one thing college officials continued to seek was a significant benefactor who could move the Vennum-Binkley expansion forward. The building will be 100 years old in 2016, and is in major need of upgrading, new classrooms and extended laboratory space.
Sanders Hall will include five new classrooms, new laboratories for organic and inorganic science, 12 faculty offices, a study lounge and conference room and an elevator, among other things.
Sanders taught for five and a half years at the college before retiring in 2010. He also gave money to establish the Richard W. Sanders Endowed Scholarship for students pursuing a degree in history or political science.
Eureka College supporter Christine Bonati Bollwinkle of Peoria, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the ceremonies. She gave the gift that was used to build the Bonati Fitness Center at Reagan Gymnasium. She also gave funds to establish scholarships named for Jo Finch and Ron Bonati.
The Helen Cleaver award, given annually for teaching excellence, was presented to Renee Mullin, assistant professor of environmental studies. Mullin was nominated by students and fellow faculty. Mullin was instrumental in establishing a campus recycling program involving Eureka High School students.
The award is named for a 1928 graduate of the college who went on to a distinguished teaching career. It’s given for creativity in teaching.