Thirty-two years ago, at Northwestern’s 75th anniversary celebration on October 2, 1977, the keynote speaker closed with his personal vision for Northwestern:
"We look forward to generations of students that are yet to come, should Christ tarry. And I want to recommit my support to you and to Northwestern today. I count it a privilege to be a part of your history and I want to be a part of your future."
The speaker was Billy Graham, Northwestern’s second president (1948–52). Now, nearly 32 years later, Billy Graham has been chosen as the namesake for the Community Life Commons.
In December 2008, Graham sent a letter to University of Northwestern President Alan Cureton approving the selection of his name for the new building. The letter came as a timely Christmas present for the Northwestern community, which sees great significance in having a building devoted to student community and spiritual life bear Graham’s name.
"As we look around campus, we see buildings named for several past presidents of Northwestern: Riley, Berntsen, Ericksen," said Cureton. "It is only fitting we name the Community Life Commons for Billy Graham, our second president and a man who embodies the spirit of evangelism and biblical leadership we hope to instill in every student at Northwestern."
The Billy Graham Community Life Commons ensures that Graham will indeed be part of Northwestern’s history and future— not only in name and legacy, but also on campus—and in the same location where he spoke his heartfelt words more than 30 years ago.
Pending board approval and financial readiness, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Billy Graham Community Life Commons is tentatively planned for 2009–10.