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St. Norbert College receives $1 million for Welcome Center

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From St. Norbert College, October 18, 2010
by Mike Counter,, (920) 403-3089

St. Norbert College has received just over one million dollars to create the Ariens Family Welcome Center for prospective students and their families. The building will house the Ed and Sally Thompson Office of Communications and the Roland and Helen Murphy Office of Admission. The project involves doubling the size of the existing admission facility with a new reception rotunda, presentation room, gallery and offices.

The Ariens Family Welcome Center, located on Third Street next to the Mulva Library, is possible due to the generosity of Michael and Mimi Ariens. The new Office of Communications wing is due to the generosity of Ed and the late Sally Thompson.

"The Ariens and Thompson families have been extremely generous to St. Norbert College for many years, and this exciting project is just the latest outstanding example," said St. Norbert College President Thomas Kunkel.

"The Ariens Family Welcome Center allows us to dramatically enhance the initial impression we make on visitors to our campus, especially prospective students and their families. And we know from experience that the initial impression is crucial in a student's ultimate college decision. So this project is an important strategic addition to campus."

Kunkel said the Ariens Family Welcome Center project also enhances St. Norbert because, for the first time, it brings under one roof the college's enrollment and communications teams, totaling about 25 professional staff and over 30 student employees.

"It is truly a dream come true. This facility will allow us to more fully tell the St. Norbert College story to those who are visiting campus, and to those we hope will come for a tour once learning about the momentum happening here," said Bridget Krage O'Connor, vice president for enrollment management and communications at St. Norbert College. "It will be a magical place to start your journey into the St. Norbert College experience. It will also be a brilliant place for our admission and communications teams to creatively work together."

Donor information
Michael Ariens, who attended St. Norbert College for three years to study pre-engineering before earning degrees at M.I.T. and Indiana University, has been chairman of the board of the Ariens Company since 1992. Founded by his grandfather, Henry, and now run by Mike's son Dan, Ariens Company is a leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment for both consumer and commercial use.

In 1973, Mike Ariens joined the St. Norbert College Board of Trustees and served as chair of the board from 1984-1988. He was instrumental behind the scenes in the creation of the Roland and Helen Murphy Admission and Visitor Center, which was built in 1998, marking the first time St. Norbert College had a facility especially designed for admission operations.

Mimi (Murphy) Ariens graduated from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana in 1955, and later served as a trustee. She taught school in Milwaukee, and has served on the Green Bay Diocesan Board of Education, the Brillion Public School Board, and the U.S. Catholic Conference Committee on Education. She serves as president of the Ariens Foundation, established in 1967.

Mike and Mimi raised nine children, six of whom attended St. Norbert College and their granddaughter Meghan is a current St. Norbert student.

In 1991, Mike and Mimi received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from St. Norbert, the highest distinction the college can bestow upon meritorious citizens.

Ed and Sally Thompson have been among St. Norbert College's strongest supporters. They conceived and funded the Thompson Marina, located behind the Ray Van Den Heuvel Family Campus Center. It is home to the very popular summer concert music series Knights on the Fox, first envisioned by the Thompsons.

In addition, the Thompsons have supported the Dudley Birder Chorale and Summer Music Theatre. They also conceived, and were the first to help fund, the smart classroom initiative at St. Norbert College.

In 2006, the Thompsons received Honorary Doctor of Humane Laws degrees for their efforts on behalf of St. Norbert College.
Mr. Thompson is president of Thompson Management Associates, a business consulting firm that works with CEOs and divisional executives to improve strategic planning, cost management, work system design and change management. His career includes 20 years with Procter & Gamble where he served as Green Bay's paper division general manager. Later, he was the president of Schneider National for over 10 years. Thompson currently is a member of the St. Norbert College board of trustees and a member of the Green Bay Packers board.

Mrs. Thompson taught grade school in California, Georgia and New Jersey. In Green Bay, she served as the president of the Green Bay Service League and on the Heritage Hill Foundation. She also gave of her time and wisdom to the Boys and Girls Club, Youth Soccer, YMCA, Langlade School organizations and the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. She passed away in August following a long illness. A St. Norbert College scholarship has been established in Sally's name to honor students committed to community engagement and service.

Construction on the project is scheduled to begin March 1, 2011 and will be open for the beginning of the 2011 academic year.

Architectural design for the Ariens Family Welcome Center is provided by Chris Renier of C. Renier Architects, Inc., De Pere, Wis. The construction is led by Oscar J. Boldt Construction, Appleton, Wis.

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