The Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., interim president, announced the donation to the Marquette community in his State of the University address yesterday.
“This is a wonderful expression of the Ecksteins' amazing generosity to Marquette,” Wild said. “Our members of the Society of Jesus, who have dedicated their lives to supporting and serving Jesuit education, are incredibly moved by this remarkable gift.”
Marquette's Jesuit community is engaged in public works of service to the university and additional ministries in Milwaukee, including teaching, research and administration. Marquette's current Jesuit Residence is located on the 1400 block of West Wisconsin Avenue, across the street from Raynor Memorial Libraries. The residence currently houses 44 members of the Jesuit community at Marquette University and was built in 1916, originally as the Stratford Arms Hotel.
The current Jesuit Residence, which the university considers to be beyond repair, will eventually be torn down to increase green space and the new facility will be located a block north on the 1400 block of Wells Street. The new Jesuit Residence will be flanked by the Alumni Memorial Union and Schroeder Hall and fits the long-term vision of the university to reimagine and renovate the center of campus between Wisconsin Avenue and Wells Street. Marquette has hired Kubala Washatko Architects to design the project.
In late January, Wild announced that an anonymous donor gave a lead gift of $10 million, with $7.5 million dedicated to the new Jesuit Residence and the remainder going to need-based scholarships. The $15 million fundraising effort for the Jesuit Residence project is being funded entirely from donations. Construction and work will include renovations to the center of campus and will begin once fundraising is completed.
The trustees for the Ray & Kay Eckstein Charitable Trust said the Ecksteins answered the call for funding of Marquette's new Jesuit Residence because of Ray Eckstein's lifelong attachment to the Jesuits. Ray attended Campion Jesuit High School in Prairie du Chien, and he and his wife both attended Marquette University.
“We have always prioritized the Jesuits in our giving by supporting the Wisconsin Province, Marquette University and Jesuit priests,” Ray Eckstein said. “We were inspired by the initial lead gift to build a new Jesuit Residence at Marquette, and this was an opportunity to do something extraordinary to honor the Jesuits and their important work.” He added that he wanted to help accomplish this priority while Father Wild remained as interim president “to allow him to conclude his term at Marquette with yet another milestone for both Marquette University and the Jesuit community.”