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Illinois Wesleyan University gets a lead gift to build a new idea center

Illinois Wesleyan University campus
WGLT file photo
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Illinois Wesleyan University officials have said the planned Petrick Idea Center will be located near the university quad, with construction targeted to start next year.
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Illinois Wesleyan University has announced plans for a new building that university officials say will spark creativity and innovation.

John Quarton is director of the Petrick Idea Center that the university hopes to start building next year. Quarton said the 50,000-square-foot center will include meeting space to collaborate, a stage for presentations and a makerspace for students to create. He said the makerspace would include 3-D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, recording equipment, possibly a test kitchen and more.

John Quarton
Illinois Wesleyan University
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John Quarton

The Petrick Idea Center would be open around the clock and would include living space for up to 100 students, generally for those who would tend to use the center most often, Quarton said.

“Putting it all under one roof in the form of a living, learning and creating facility really does make this a unique and distinctive offering by Illinois Wesleyan that I’m not aware of is offered at this scale at too many other universities throughout the country,” he said.

Quarton was involved in a similar venture during his 25-year career at State Farm. He helped create the State Farm Research and Development Center at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, then helped oversee several innovation and entrepreneurship programs at the U of I.

Quarton noted he was in retirement for 59 days before he started at IWU to develop the Petrick Idea Center.

He said the center is intended to serve as a collaborate space for students, faculty and staff to think and dream big and give them the tools to help make those ideas reality.

“Students today do see the world in different ways than students in the past,” Quarton said. “I’m convinced of that with my time at the University of Illinois. They are looking to sincerely make this world a better place.”

The facility would be built near the IWU quad. The university is still working on a specific location but wants it to be easily accessible for students.

The university hasn't said how much the idea center will cost or how much money has been raised so far. IWU said the funding will come entirely through private support. The lead gift for the project came from IWU alums Dave and Ellen Petrick.

“We believe that everyone has a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, and through the development of The Petrick Idea Center, students from across campus will have access to the resources and support needed to advance new products, services and initiatives in the ‘do well, do good’ spirit of former (IWU) president Minor Myers Jr.,” Dave Petrick said in a news release.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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