Donors give JC $4.5 million

What professors at the Jamestown College are calling a major step forward for the science departments became possible Monday with lead donations from two JC alumni.

John M. Steiner / The Sun Orlady Hall on the campus of Jamestown College will undergo a major renovation and addition as announced Monday after an alumni pledged $3 million for the project. Another alumni contributed an additional $1.5 million for the $9 million project.

What professors at the Jamestown College are calling a major step forward for the science departments became possible Monday with lead donations from two JC alumni.

Dr. Robert Badal, college president, announced that Margaret Thielsch was donating $3 million as the start of funding for a $9 million addition and renovation to the science department facilities currently housed in Orlady Hall.

"Today she decided she wanted to be a lead donor," he said. "This is a wonderful day. I'm so happy for the science and nursing faculty and students."

Thielsch is an Edgeley, N.D., native and currently resides in East Greenwich, R.I. She graduated from Jamestown College in 1943 and has supported the school with donations in the past.

"Margaret has a big place in her heart for Jamestown College and her North Dakota roots," Badal said. "This gift is an illustration of how years of work by our predecessors, the administration, the staff, the faculty and our loyal alumni, have helped build the relationships that contribute to making amazing things like this happen."


Badal also announced that Lloyd Sheldon of Mesa, Ariz., a 1944 graduate of the college, contributed an additional $1.5 million to the project. This brings the total donations already pledged to about half the estimated cost of the project.

The donors couldn't be reached for comment.

"We're quite excited that with these two major gifts, remaining gifts will follow, and we can bring this campaign to a close soon," Badal said.

The project involves two stages to add additional space and renovate Orlady Hall.

"The new segment of the building adds 21,000 square feet, which is essentially all lab space," said Tom Heck, vice president of business affairs for Jamestown College. "The second phase is to gut the existing building for conversion into offices and classrooms."

The new lab space is a welcome addition, according to Dr. Bruce Jensen, professor of biology at the college.

"The new facility will have four labs all as big as the biggest lab we have now," Jensen said. "It should make things go more smoothly. It will be nice to have a student research area and a better preparation area."

Heck said Orlady Hall is ready for updates.


"The building was constructed in 1941 and the labs renovated in 1989, which is a long time for that type of thing," he said. "There's not a lot that's been done to that building."

Groundbreaking on phase 1 of the project is scheduled for next spring with completion of the addition and lab space planned for the start of classes in fall 2013. Phase 2 begins at the end of classes in spring 2013 with the renovation of the current Orlady Hall completed by fall 2014.

"Ultimately this will be the largest classroom complex on the campus," said Polly Peterson, vice president of institutional advancement. "The complex is tentatively named the Thielsch/McKenna Laboratory Complex."

McKenna is Thielsch's maiden name.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by email at

What To Read Next
Get Local