Governor Quinn Announces Funding for NIU’s Cole Hall Construction, Stevens Building Renovations

DEKALB–(ENEWSPF)–January 27, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Northern Illinois University (NIU) will get $8 million to renovate Cole Hall, which on Feb. 14, 2008 was the tragic scene of an unprovoked attack where five students were shot and 19 were wounded. An additional $2.3 million will be used to plan for the renovation of Stevens Building.

“We can never fully put this tragedy behind us but it is important to move forward,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “Renovating Cole Hall, along with the funding for Stevens Building construction planning, provides a vital step in helping the NIU community heal from the impact of this senseless shooting.”

On Feb. 14, 2008, five students were shot and killed in an unprovoked attack on a NIU Geology 104 class that was meeting in Room 101 of Cole Hall. Nineteen students were wounded in that attack: some have recovered and returned to classes while others sustained injuries that require additional surgeries and hospitalization.

Cole Hall, which contains two of the school’s primary large lecture halls, has been closed since the attack, and classes have been temporarily relocated. Prior to the tragic events of 2008, Cole Hall was used heavily by the NIU students and community. This high-usage building was in daily operation from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Cole 100 had 17 classes scheduled and Cole 101 had 15 classes scheduled in the spring of 2008.

In the aftermath of the campus shooting, more than 5,000 members of the NIU community offered opinions on the use of Cole Hall.

The campus-wide discussion resulted in widespread support for Cole Hall’s preservation, but also called for completely remodeling and reconfiguring the building, including having no formal classroom instruction in Room 101, where the shootings occurred. Room 101 will be remodeled to support non-classroom activities, such as a computer lab, offices and commons. In turn, a replacement 400-seat lecture hall will be built as part of Stevens Building.

“We are most grateful for these funds, which will address two of our most pressing facilities-related issues,” said NIU President John G. Peters. “The money for Cole Hall will not only help us remodel and reopen one of the busiest academic buildings on campus, it will also enable the continued healing from the events of February 14, 2008. We can also begin work to rehabilitate the Stevens Building into a facility befitting the quality of the outstanding programs it houses.”

Funding for both programs comes through Illinois Jobs Now!, a job-generation and capital improvement program that will revive the state’s ailing economy by creating and retaining over 439,000 jobs over six years.