A $2 million lead gift commitment from Jack and Sarah Salzwedel has inspired the Wartburg College Board of Regents to authorize a $9 million fundraising campaign in support of the renovation of Centennial and Vollmer halls, two of the oldest student residences on campus.


The total cost of the renovation, including an addition to the complex’s northeast side, is estimated to be $11 million. The college will also apply for $2 million in State of Iowa Historical Tax Credits.

The college hopes to raise the full $9 million, the largest fundraising goal for a single project in the college’s history, by June 1. The Salzwedels’ gift, along with a handful of other early leadership gifts, has pushed the initial fundraising total to $5 million.

“The Board is excited to see the early gift support provided during this project’s quiet phase, and now is the time to take our fundraising efforts public and engage the entire Wartburg community in helping to make this critical investment in our students’ living and learning experience,” said Mike McCoy, chair of the Board of Regents. “We’re confident our alumni, parents and friends will respond generously as we work to reach our $9 million goal over the next 12 months.”

If the college can reach that goal, construction could begin next spring and be complete by the time Fall Term classes begin in 2022.

The Salzwedels, both 1982 Wartburg alumni from Madison, Wis., have had three children attend the college. Jack is CEO of American Family Insurance and has served as faculty-in-residence, co-teaching a May Term leadership course at Wartburg. He also served on the college’s Board of Regents for nine years. Strong supporters of the college, the couple’s previous gifts have enhanced a soccer stadium, as well as created the Slife Institute for Social Work Consultation, Research, and Training, named in honor of Sarah’s parents, the late Harry and Polly Slife of Cedar Falls.

“Sarah and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the educational experience our three sons enjoyed at Wartburg, and the residential environment was an important element in their student success,” said Jack. “This renovation will enable all first-year students to experience a safe, accessible and comfortable place to call home, and we encourage our fellow alumni to join us in making this project a reality.”

Renovation plans feature a new HVAC system, which integrates fresh air in individual rooms. It also includes all new restroom and shower facilities, a fire sprinkler system and an electrical and plumbing overhaul. Several suites, combining individual sleeping spaces and bathrooms, will allow the college to better serve students needing special accommodations.

An addition to the building’s northeast side will create space for an elevator and enhanced accessibility, plus expanded community spaces. A new lounge surrounded by a kitchen and individual or group student study rooms will be added.

Wartburg is in the midst of a new strategic planning process, and this project will support the college’s goal of enhancing facilities to create a more nurturing and engaging environment for students. In addition, President Darrel Colson said the Salzwedels have challenged the college to explore how the new residence halls can support the fulfillment of another emerging goal – building and sustaining a collaborative, inclusive community that recognizes, values and includes all members.

“We are grateful to Sarah and Jack for their extraordinary generosity, but also for encouraging us to look beyond just a new building, for pushing us to envision how these new spaces can demonstrate our commitment to creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for our students,” Colson said. “They’ve inspired us to think in creative and innovative ways, and for that I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Other leadership gift commitments in support of the project include $1.5 million from the Franklin I. & Irene List Saemann Foundation and $1 million from Mike and Marge McCoy.

Centennial and Vollmer Halls, built in 1953 and 1956, respectively, typically house about one-half of the college’s first-year students each year. The other residence hall housing primarily first-year students, Clinton Hall, was renovated in 2016 at a cost of $8 million. Nearly 85 percent of Wartburg’s 1,564 students reside on campus.

Hebron Hall, a residence hall adjacent to Centennial, will not be renovated at this time. Hebron has its own heating and electrical systems, and the facility is slightly newer.

If you have questions or are interested in supporting the Centennial and Vollmer Halls Renovation Project, please contact the Development Office at development@wartburg.edu or at 319-352-8495.






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