With only a few months remaining in Wartburg College’s fundraising campaign in support of the renovation of Centennial and Vollmer halls, a $1.5 million challenge gift from the Franklin & Irene List Saemann Foundation has put the final goal within striking distance.  

Amy Kilgus Chamley, chair of the Campaign for the Renovation of Centennial and Vollmer Halls, a member of the college’s Board of Regents and a trustee for the foundation, announced the gift Thursday night during the public fundraising launch of the $9 million campaign. A previous $1.5 million gift from the Saemann Foundation and a $2 million gift from alumni Jack and Sarah Salzwedel kicked off the quiet phase of the campaign in June 2019.  

“The Centennial and Vollmer Halls Renovation Project will bring it in line with Clinton Hall and ensure that all first-year students have equal living environments. In addition, the plans for the renovation and addition include more spaces to accommodate a diversity of needs among students, from single rooms with accessible restrooms to private study areas and new accessible community spaces,” she said. “We’ve all been through a lot in the past 20 months. It’s our pleasure to be able to support a project that will give future Wartburg students a modern and accessible place they can call home.”  

With this new challenge gift, the college has $1.5 million yet to raise of the $9 million needed before June 1, 2022, to begin the project this summer. The total cost of the renovation, including an addition to the complex’s northeast side, is expected to cost about $11 million. The college is applying for a $2 million State of Iowa Historical Tax Credit.   

“I love what the Saemann Foundation is doing to help this project. They recognize the need, and for them to already have made one gift and then to step up and make another as a challenge gift is great,” said Mike McCoy, chair of the Board of Regents. “With the excitement this gift will generate, I am confident we can bring this campaign to a successful closure and renovate these two halls.”  

Renovation plans feature a new HVAC system, which integrates fresh air and air conditioning 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 make room for expanded community spaces. A new lounge surrounded by a kitchen and individual or group student study rooms will be added. 

The Saemann Foundation, established in 1983, has made nearly $10 million in gifts and pledges to Wartburg, many of which supported building projects directly benefiting students like Grossmann Hall (1995), Vogel Library (1999), Saemann Student Center (2004) and the McCoy Living and Learning Center & Clinton Hall (2016). Other grants from the foundation focused on enhancing student life, academic excellence and strategic planning. 

“For decades now, the Saemann Foundation has advanced the vision of its founders, Frank and Irene Saemann, who made generous gifts to Wartburg during their lifetimes and have continued to bless the college through their bequest,” said Wartburg President Darrel Colson. “Like the Saemanns themselves, the foundation has paid special attention to students and has attended to their needs. Embracing our strategic vision to become the leading institution in educating the whole person, the Saemann Foundation has seen how a renovated Centennial and Vollmer can help to realize that vision and has set an example for us all to emulate. This generous gift not only moves us substantially toward our goal, but challenges—and inspires—the wider Wartburg family to join together to reach that goal.” 

Irene List Saemann was the granddaughter of Pastor Georg Grossmann, Wartburg’s founder. Members of the Saemann Foundation Board with strong ties to Wartburg include Joann Kilgus, great-granddaughter of Grossmann and former member of the Wartburg Board of Regents; Amy Kilgus Chamley, great-great-granddaughter of Grossmann and member of the Wartburg Board of Regents; Adam Kilgus, great-great-grandson of Grossmann and member of the Wartburg West National Advisory Board; and Robert List, great-great-grandson of Grossmann and father of 2003 Wartburg graduate Alena List Bauman. Other members of the Saemann Foundation include great-granddaughter June Waller and great-great grandchildren Jonathan Waller and Katherine Kauffman. 

“We love Wartburg and want to make sure that it continues to attract outstanding students from all over the place, who spend a few years here and then go out to be even more outstanding people in the world,” Chamley said.  

For more information about the Centennial and Vollmer Halls Renovation Project or to donate, visit www.wartburg.edu/cent-voll or contact the Wartburg College Development Office at 319-352-8495.  


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