MILWAUKEE -- Marquette University alumni Ray and Kay Eckstein have issued a $10 million challenge toward the construction of the university’s new residence hall facility, MU President Michael Lovell announced Wednesday, January 18th during his annual campus address. According to a release from MU officials, the Ecksteins have challenged the university to raise $10 million. Once the challenge is met, the Ecksteins will match the $10 million and the overall complex will be named for longtime Marquette President Rev. Robert Wild.
Wild said he was "speechless" when this announcement was made on Wednesday afternoon.
"That took me by surprise! My first reaction was 'would you want your child living in Wild Hall?' I'm blown away by this," Wild said.
According to MU officials, this marks the third significant gift the alumni couple have made to Marquette.
The Ecksteins in 2007 made a landmark $51 million gift toward Eckstein Hall, home of the Marquette University Law School, and in 2014 they donated to the construction of the Dr. E.J. O’Brien Jesuit Residence, MU officials said.
In recognition of the Eckstein’s generous life-long giving to Marquette, the university will name one of the new residence hall facility’s two towers in their honor.
The Ecksteins are one of the university’s two largest all-time donors, and their $51 million gift to the Law School is the largest in Marquette history, MU officials said in the release.
“Ray and Kay Eckstein’s generosity is both inspirational and transformational for Marquette University. I’m so pleased that we can recognize their exceptional lifelong commitment to Marquette in this way,” Lovell said in the release. “This latest gift from the Ecksteins again propels us forward, supporting us in our construction of a world-class residence hall for future generations of students. And to bestow upon it Father Wild’s name is both fitting and a touching testament to his legacy at Marquette.”
“Having known Father Wild for nearly two decades and observed his leadership in service to Marquette, Kay and I are delighted to do our part to encourage the support of others so that the University can name this new student residence in his honor,” Ray Eckstein said in the release. “We are very happy that there will be a place at Marquette that bears his name in recognition of his many contributions revitalizing and building the campus during his presidency.”
Now the university’s chancellor, Father Wild was the 22nd president of Marquette from 1996 to 2011 — he served again as interim president from 2013 to 2014. Under his leadership, the university raised more than $800 million, including more than $200 million for scholarships and several eight-figure gifts that accelerated campus construction projects, including Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., Library, the Al McGuire Center, Engineering Hall, and Eckstein Hall, MU officials said in the release.
Father Wild’s honorary degree proclamation from May 2015 read:
“At the heart of this success was Father Wild’s dedication to students. Holding firm to Marquette’s founding mission of educating first-generation college students, he was a champion for increasing access. With more than $200 million raised for endowed and immediate impact scholarships during his tenure and a student body comprised of more than 20 percent first-generation students, his legacy is the students. As Father Wild said, ‘It is not just about how much more our students and graduates can be, but how much more the world can be through our graduates.”
MU officials said ground was broken in November on the new, $96 million, 750-bed co-ed residence hall that will house freshmen and sophomores.
Located on the northwest part of campus, south of Wells Street between 17th and 18th Streets, the facility will feature two 375-bed resident towers connected through the lower levels by dining and campus community space.
It'll open in August of 2018.