IWU plans idea center to ignite ‘entrepreneurial passions’

Ellen and Dave Petrick (photo from Illinois Wesleyan University)

BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) – A new 50,000 square foot building is planned for Illinois Wesleyan University in hopes it will unleash an entrepreneurial spirit on campus.

The Petrick Idea Center will be funded entirely through donor support, and is named for Wesleyan grads Dave and Ellen Petrick who are the lead donors. The building is projected to be about the size of IWU’s State Farm Hall,

A university news release said the idea center will provide a state-of-the-art innovation area for the entire campus and space for 75-100 students to actually live there. So-called “maker space” will be equipped with tools for fabrication and creative projects, the news release said.

The Bloomington facility will include “live and learn residential opportunities that will allow students to take their innovation, design, creativity and entrepreneurial passions to levels they never would have previously imagined, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said John Quarton, who will be the idea center’s first director.

The Petrick Idea Center will bring together students from across the University’s disciplines to think broadly about people’s needs and creative, ethical ways to fulfill them, the news release said.

Mentoring programs will allow students to leverage one another’s expertise, and the expertise of faculty, alumni and community members, to innovate boldly and with the greatest chances of success, IWU also said.

Dave Petrick is a lifelong entrepreneur, graduated from Wesleyan in 1967. He’s chairman of an Illinois company that makes technology furniture products for schools and businesses.

“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.,” Petrick said in a prepared statement.

The northeast and southwest corners of the IWU quad are being considered as possible idea center sites.

Construction could begin as soon as next year, and the university is working with a Los Angeles-based architectural firm to design the facility.

The university did not provide cost estimates for the project.

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