Loyola still deciding Benson Center’s future


Samuel Kahn

Reverend D. Martin presents communion wafers and wine to worshipers in Loyola University's Ignatus Chapel during an Aug. 26 Sunday mass. Thanks to an anonymous matching grant for the Tom Benson Jesuit Center's creation and 200 members of the Ignatius Chapel successfully matching the grant, the chapel will soon be relocated to the jesuit center. Photo credit: Samuel Kahn

Riley Katz

After years of waiting, the pillar that stands in between Monroe Hall and the sculpture garden is one step closer to becoming the Tom Benson Jesuit Center, thanks to a matching grant of $500,000 from an anonymous donor.

The donor created the matching grant for the long-awaited center’s creation and 200 community members of the Ignatius Chapel successfully matched the donation over the summer.

However, Fr. Ted Dziak, S.J., said that the university is still deciding how to allocate the money.

Plans for the new center arose in 2010 when the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Center donated $8 million to Loyola for the center’s creation, but the center has yet to be built.

Tom Benson graduated Loyola in 1948 and was awarded an additional honorary degree from the university in 1987 before passing away in March of 2018 from the influenza.

Dziak said the recent donations and new president of the university, Tania Tetlow, will change much about the timeline of the project. He said that after the week of Aug. 27, the university should have a better idea about where the money will go and how long construction will take.

Current plans for the new building include an updated Chapel of St. Ignatius, staff offices and a meeting space, according to Laura Frerichs, vice president for marketing and communications.

“We will make final decisions on the exact configuration as President Tetlow and our team continue the process,” Frerichs said.

In spite of the changes in planning, the goal moving forward is to build the Benson Center in the center of campus where the old library stood until it was demolished in 1999.

The proposed location for the Benson Center has been met with both praise and criticism from students.

Madison Settle, english sophomore, said she doesn’t know how to feel about the Jesuit center’s creation.

“I feel that it could harm the cosmetic appearance of the campus, but it could also be better for the campus overall,” Settle said.

Lacinea McBride, mass communication and sociology senior, said that while she understands the money was donated for a specific purpose, the money could have gone toward other parts of the university in need.

“We don’t have enough money to support our students or staff, yet we have another half a million dollars being invested in a prayer space,” McBride said. “I came back to Loyola to find half of the staff members I’ve grown close to were laid off due to budget cuts. I don’t know if the power of prayer can dig us out of this hole.”

According to Frerichs, the university is excited about the building’s future consturction and fundraising for the Tom Benson Jesuit Center has been one of the most successful projects in Loyola’s history.

“We are working on some final large gifts with generous donors, but funding for this project—all from gifts—has reached the level such that we are confident in restarting the planning process for construc tion,” Frerichs said.