In the long history of Beloit College, few individuals or families have built such fruitful connections so quickly or had such a transformative impact on the school as the family of Marge and James Sanger.
Since 1987, when they sent the first of two daughters to study at Beloit, the Sangers have generously, and often quietly, funded student scholarships and established mission-critical new programming, such as the Sanger Summer Research Program. Beyond their significant financial support, the Sangers have dedicated their energy, intellect, and time to the advancement of the college, with Jim Sanger serving on the board of trustees for the past 20 years and chairing the board for the last 12.
In October, the executive committee of the college’s board of trustees brought forward a unanimous recommendation to recognize the Sanger family for their extraordinary leadership: to name the college’s Center for the Sciences the “Marjorie and James Sanger Center for the Sciences.”
The recommendation came as Jim Sanger completed a highly successful stint as the college’s board chair and passed the gavel to the new chair, Stopher Bartol, Beloit College class of 1988, on October 13.
During Sanger’s tenure as chair, the college removed and replaced the outdated Chamberlin Hall of Science with the high-tech, light-filled Platinum LEED Certified green building that opened in 2008 and will bear the family’s name. When planning for that project began in 1996, the Sangers committed to the lofty goal of building a state-of-the-art center, and, as board chair, Jim was a central figure in the project’s fundraising campaign. The Sangers were major donors to Beloit’s renovated Karris Track & Field at Strong Stadium, which opened in 2011. Also on Sanger’s watch, the college reclaimed, renovated, and reopened the historic Emerson Hall for student residences, and made the initial planning and bold moves toward reimagining the former Blackhawk Generating Station as a state-of-the-art student union and recreation center. Sanger has been a major figure in fundraising for the Powerhouse, which is set to open in 2019.
“The Sangers’ impact on this college is nothing short of remarkable. Their enduring support, generosity and profound leadership has influenced almost every dimension of Beloit, making it a far better place for far more people. The Sangers’ unique contributions are such that their impact has and will continue to shape lives at Beloit and beyond,” said President Scott Bierman.
The Sanger Summer Research Program, which funds students’ sustained research projects in collaboration with a faculty mentor, is among the opportunities the Sangers have made possible annually at Beloit. To date, 163 students have participated in that program. They have also been instrumental in funding both merit and need-based scholarships for Beloit College students.
The Sangers are residents of Roscoe, Ill. Jim attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, obtained his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, and is the former president of Rath Manufacturing Company. Marjorie is trained as a registered nurse. She applied for admission to Beloit College in 2002, and has taken courses intermittently over the years, including a science course in which she teamed up in the lab with the couple’s daughter, Christine. The Sangers’ daughter Christine enrolled at Beloit in 1987 and majored in psychology. In 1999, their daughter Kara followed suit, enrolling and majoring in creative writing.
During a scholarship luncheon in 2000, Jim Sanger talked about the family’s approach to philanthropy. “I remember asking someone who had helped me a great deal in my business career, ‘How can I ever repay you?’” Sanger said. “His answer was, ‘Go help someone else.’ For us, helping others is not just a nice thing to do. It is also a way of honoring those who have helped us.”
The Marjorie and James Sanger Center for the Sciences was designed to advance the integration of the sciences at Beloit and to strengthen the active, interdisciplinary approach to teaching in the sciences that is a Beloit hallmark. The center is home to seven academic departments, spans 117,000 square feet, and has earned a number of architectural awards, including the Design Excellence Honor Award in Interior Architecture from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Center for the Sciences platinum-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status to the building, its highest rating.