St. Norbert College using large gift to build new Business & Economics building

The college promises a “signature, showcase building” on the campus’s most visible corner
Living, learning and working will undergo major infrastructural changes
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 9:39 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2023 at 11:55 AM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - St. Norbert College in De Pere announced Thursday it received a major gift that will go toward the construction of a new building for the Donald J. Schneider School of Business & Economics.

The gift from the Schneider family will be used to build the Donald & Patricia Schneider Family Hall on the current site of the Pennings Activity Center.

The activity center will be razed, and the business building will open in time for Fall 2025 classes.

St. Norbert College interim president Thomas Kunkel promises a “signature, showcase building.” The college describes the location as the most visible corner of the campus, on the banks of the Fox River, at the western end of the Claude Allouez Bridge, where thousands of vehicles and pedestrians will pass by every day.

The 45,000-square foot facility will house undergraduate and graduate business and economics programs, including data analytics and the sports management program that’s new to St. Norbert’s. It will have classrooms and workspaces, room for executive education and conferencing, and a terrace along the Fox River for gatherings.

“We are honored and humbled by this significant gift from the Schneider family, and we continue to be thankful for their deep commitment to advancing our students and so many others throughout our community,” Kunkel said in a written statement Thursday. “Their gift will help St. Norbert College strengthen its central role in the northeast Wisconsin business community, and it will spark many new opportunities for those who live, learn and work here.”

The amount of the gift wasn’t disclosed. Kunkel responded to an inquiry from Action 2 News, “Our agreement with the donor is that the total won’t be disclosed. There will be other individuals, corporations and foundations who will participate in the project, but there’s no question that without the Schneiders’ lead gift the building would not be happening.”

St. Norbert College says the school legacy of the Pennings Activity Center will be memorialized in the new business building and the college will plan a public recognition before the old building is razed.

The Pennings Activity Center was built as a public high school in 1923. Nicolet High School became part of the West De Pere School District before the school was purchased by the Norbertines in 1959. It was renamed Abbot Pennings High School and was an all-boys, private high school until 1990, when several Catholic schools consolidated to create Notre Dame Academy.

The Schneider Family Hall is being designed by Workshop Architects based in Milwaukee. Neenah-based Miron Construction was chosen as the general contractor.

The college also announced a major renovation project for Boyle Hall. St. Norbert says it was one of the original buildings on the college campus, constructed in 1917. It houses the humanities and social sciences disciplines, including history, theology and education. The renovation will be done in phases, starting with improvements to classrooms on the first and second floors.