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AMES — Iowa State University’s vision for a new $50 million Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Building is coming into focus after alums C.G. “Turk” and Joyce A. McEwen Therkildsen committed $42 million toward the project, ISU officials announced Wednesday.
To honor the Therkildsens and their building gift — covering 84 percent of the anticipated project cost — Iowa State, pending Board of Regents approval, will name its new Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering facility the “Therkildsen Industrial Engineering” building.
A regent facilities committee on Wednesday recommended approving the naming. The full board will consider it Thursday.
The building — which Iowa State began planning in 2019 — aims to “provide technologically enhanced learning and research laboratory spaces where industrial engineering students can gain the knowledge to design tomorrow’s innovative, nimble, and intelligent processes.”
Iowa State has not yet presented a budget, timeline, or design proposal to the board, which last year imposed a pandemic-prompted moratorium on any new construction that adds square footage to a campus and isn’t health care-related, already approved or funded entirely through private gifts.
ISU officials said the project isn’t impacted by the moratorium, as the board approved its planning in 2019 — before the moratorium went into effect. But that approval was for a $40 million project that would have been fully covered by the new $42 million gift commitment.
Iowa State would need to come back to the board if it wants to increase the project cost to $50 million, as proposed.
And according to board documents, the Therkildsens’ committed lead gift for the $50 million project covers most of Iowa State’s $45 million fundraising goal — but not all of it.
Once that’s achieved, Iowa State’s five-year capital plan shows expectations the project’s remaining $5 million will come from “university funds.”
The capital plan indicates Iowa State will spend $22.5 million of donated funds and another $2.5 million in university funds in both the 2023 and 2024 budget years.
In a statement, ISU President Wendy Wintersteen praised the role alumni play in enabling educational excellence and building a “solid foundation for future achievements.”
“This transformational investment by two extraordinary alums, Turk and Joyce Therkildsen, helps to solidify Iowa State University's prominence in engineering and to prepare our students for success in an increasingly complex, technology-driven world,” she said.
As envisioned, the $50 million, 50,000-square-foot building will sit southwest of Howe Hall on the campus. It will be “designed to complement the current aesthetics of the university’s engineering corridor,” officials said Wednesday.
The building will provide hands-on, experiential learning to both undergraduate and graduate students through “advanced teaching and research laboratories available nowhere else on the Iowa State campus.”
“Joyce and I continue to be impressed with the quality of an Iowa State industrial engineering education, and the visionary leadership demonstrated by the department and university,” C.G. “Turk” Therkildsen said in a statement. “Providing a state-of-the-art facility is one of the best ways to ensure the department is able to evolve and expand as the professional field advances.”
The Therkildsens have a long-running relationship with Iowa State as members of the class of 1959.
Turk Therkildsen is an industrial engineering graduate, and Joyce Therkildsen graduated with zoology and physical education majors. Turk and Joyce are the semiretired CEO and chairman and corporate secretary, respectively, of Industrial Hard Chrome Ltd., based in Geneva, Ill.
Today, Iowa State’s Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering enrolls more than 500 students and calls itself a “premier destination for education and research in all major subfields of industrial engineering: advanced manufacturing, operations research and analytics, and human factors engineering.”
“It’s not every day a college is so fortunate to have an amazing project like this come to life due to the generosity of such passionate donors,” College of Engineering Dean W. Samuel Easterling said in a statement.
“This facility will be transformative and elevate the prestige of our entire college even further. This investment in our students will provide learning opportunities to inspire and create innovation for our future engineering leaders who will make a difference in their communities and around the world.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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