Indiana State University Newsroom

Sesquicentennial kickoff: Restored Normal Hall dome unveiled; $1M gift, scholarship endowment announced

October 15, 2015

Indiana State University kicked off its Sesquicentennial Era Thursday night with the announcement of a $1 million gift from the Gayle and Bill Cook Foundation during a Gala Celebration which featured the unveiling of the restored stained glass dome in Normal Hall and raised more than $200,000 to create an endowment for need-based scholarships.

"This is a wonderful way to kick off our Sesquicentennial Era. We are so grateful to Gayle Cook for lending her expertise to the restoration of Normal Hall and connecting us to the Conrad Schmitt firm which has done an amazing job restoring the dome," said university President Daniel J. Bradley. "We also are incredibly appreciative of the support we have received for our historic preservation efforts from Gayle and her son, Carl, through the Gayle and Bill Cook Foundation."

The gift from the Cook Foundation helped support aspects of the renovation of Normal Hall that fell outside of the $16 million project funded by state dollars as well as other historic preservation efforts on campus. Cook and her late husband started Cook Incorporated in 1963 in the spare bedroom of their apartment and built it into a leading international medical device company.

They have restored numerous historic buildings throughout Indiana and Illinois including the French Lick Springs and West Baden resorts in southern Indiana.

"It has been exciting to be a part of this wonderful project and to see this magnificent dome brought back to life. This regal setting is bound to inspire students as they study in the grand rotunda. It is an incredible building," said Cook.

Normal Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only remaining building which was originally constructed for use by the Indiana State Normal School. The building was dedicated as the Indiana State Normal School Library in 1910 and is now the home for University College and the Center for Student Success.

The restoration project was led by arcDESIGN of Indianapolis with Weddle Brothers Construction Companies of Bloomington serving as the general contractor. Conrad Schmitt Studios, located in New Berlin, Wisconsin, completed the restoration of the 32-foot-wide stained glass dome, the scagliola columns and decorative painting including a reproduction of Raphael's portrait of Philosophy in the center of the dome.

The fundraising event netted more than $200,000 to create an endowment to support need-based scholarships, said Ron Carpenter, president of the Indiana State University Foundation.

"We are grateful to the individuals, businesses, organizations and sister institutions who generously supported this event. In addition to celebrating the University's 150th anniversary, we will be able to create an endowment that will assist future Sycamores in funding their education," he said.

The gala dinner featured "Reflections from William Wood Parsons" with Professor Emeritus Gene England portraying the third president of the Normal School. Parsons was also a member of the first class of 21 students when the school opened in January 1870.

The Sesquicentennial Era spans from the 150th anniversary of the passage of legislation in 1865 to establish the Indiana State Normal School through the 150th anniversary of the school's opening. Various events will take place over the next four and a half years to commemorate the university's history and pay tribute to its numerous contributions to the community of Terre Haute, the State of Indiana, the nation and the world. Several publications are also planned including a new scholarly history of the University authored by Dan Clark, associate professor of history.

"We also want to recognize the residents and officials of Terre Haute. Throughout our history, the community has been supportive of our institution's growth and development starting with the 1,500 citizens who signed a petition in 1866 asking the city council to appropriate $50,000 and land so that Terre Haute could become the site of the new normal school," said Bradley.

"Indiana State and the community of Terre Haute are inextricably linked. This partnership has resulted in enhancing the quality of life for our residents, driving economic development, stirring revitalization of the downtown and the riverfront and, most importantly, providing opportunities for higher education to many who might otherwise go unserved," he added.

Bradley pledged that the institution would continue to place an emphasis on driving economic development.

"Indiana State will continue to meet the workforce needs of the state's economy by providing well-prepared graduates and increasing degree attainment among adults. We are also focusing on ways to improve the career-readiness of our graduates," he said.

The creation of the Indiana State Normal School in 1865 was a major development in ensuring that the state had the teachers needed to provide a free and common system of education for all, Bradley noted. "It really was the beginning of teaching as a true profession.

"Indiana State's history of serving a diverse body of students will also be recognized throughout the celebration."Indiana State has been an inclusive university since its beginning. Our first African-American student enrolled the summer that the Normal School opened in 1870. The first class had more women than men. Many of our students came from lower-income families which remains true today," said Bradley. "Indiana State is the epitome of why public education was created. Providing opportunity to improve one's lot in life is a noble and important mission and one that Indiana State continues to fulfill."

Provost Emeritus C. Jack Maynard and Teresa Exline, chief of staff in the Office of the President, are co-chairs of the Sesquicentennial Celebration. Committee members include: Brad Balch, Candy Barton, Michele Boyer, Cheri Bradley, Paul Bro, Ron Carpenter, Stephanie Jefferson, Rex Kendall, Teddy Lenderman, Jeff Lorick, Cinda May, Chris McGrew, Connie McLaren, Santhana Naidu, Fred Nation, Al Perone, Nancy Rogers, Kevin Runion, Tom Sauer, Michael Shelden and Katie Sutrina-Haney.

A re-dedication of Normal Hall will take place at 10:15 a.m. Friday. The event is free and open to the public. A reception and tours will follow.

Photo: - Attendees at a Sesquicentennial Gala watch as the restored dome of Indiana State University's Normal Hall is illuminated Oct. 15, 2016. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Media contact: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or