OGLESBY — Illinois Valley Community College honored the woman responsible for the largest gift in its 93-year history, Mary Margaret Weeg, by naming its 600-seat auditorium in her memory on Aug. 25.
Following board action to officially name the Dr. Mary Margaret Weeg Cultural Centre, about 70 guests gathered for a ceremony in the Peter Miller Community Technology Center. Weeg’s $1.1 million bequest to the IVCC Foundation was facilitated by estate executor and former colleague Dr. Rose Marie Lynch.
“This bequest provides a tangible legacy,” Lynch said. “Mary Margaret was fond of saying that her legacy was the people she hired – and I’m very proud to be one of them. Her true legacy, however, is in the thousands of students, teachers and friends she inspired with her love of language, literature, music, art and travel.”
IVCC President Jerry Corcoran said, “On behalf of our boards, faculty, staff, and most especially our students, thank you Mary Margaret Weeg, and each of you – her extended family – for making IVCC a wonderful place in which to work and positively affect people’s lives.”
Weeg, a longtime English instructor and humanities division chair, died in April 2015 at age 84. A petite 5-foot-5-inches tall, Weeg was nonetheless a powerful motivator.
“Shortly after I arrived here, I began to get a true sense of the force of nature that she was,” Lynch said. “She led the Humanities division during years of tremendous growth and change, inspiring us to do our best, in large part because we did not want to disappoint her.”
IVCC Director of Community Relations and Development Fran Brolley said the bequest will be endowed to support a Dr. Mary Margaret Weeg Arts Scholarship, the Scholarship Campaign fund, the Adult Education department, Student Emergency Fund and IVCC Foundation-related needs.
“We will print ‘Dr. Mary Margaret Weeg Cultural Centre’ big and bold across the Centre’s exterior wall to ensure our students, staff and guests know what she did for us,” Brolley said.
Also speaking Friday were trustee chair Jane Goetz and colleagues Ed Krolak and Hans Andrews.
Weeg retired in 1989 – 35 years after beginning her teaching career at LaSalle-Peru High School and part-time teaching at IVCC predecessor LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College. In 1964, she was appointed chairman of LP’s English department; when the IVCC district was created in 1967, she was named chair of the college’s humanities division. She resigned the chair in 1980 to return to teaching full-time.
Lynch, a close friend since being hired by Weeg to teach English and journalism in 1970, remembered the lasting impact she had on students, even those who struggled in her classes.
“Mary Margaret and I were in a local establishment some years ago when a man approached us with a big smile. ‘Dr. Weeg, you were one of my favorite teachers. Do you remember giving me an F in English, twice? Can I buy you a drink?’”