David and Priscilla Trubeck Adolphson are pictured in the Adolphson Observatory atop Monmouth College’s new Center for Science and Business, along with their grand-niece, Elizabeth Trubeck, and Monmouth physics professors Tim Stiles and Chris Fasano. An estate gift from the Adolphsons funded the observatory.
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An estate gift from Monmouth College graduates David ’67 and Priscilla Trubeck Adolphson ’70 of North Barrington, Ill., has provided the “crowning jewel” to their alma mater’s new Center for Science and Business.
The couple’s six-figure gift has created the Adolphson Observatory, providing a very fitting cap for a facility that was designed in many ways to meet and anticipate changes in science and technology in the 21st century.
“The beauty is in the technology,” said Dave, who recently retired as vice president and marketing manager at Objective-AIM in North Barrington. “You can rotate the telescope 360 degrees in either direction and tell the computer to track a certain planet. It is just fascinating.”
He is also impressed with how the engineering of the building and installation of the observatory took into consideration the stability of the telescope. An I-beam and spider legs supporting the rooftop structure help with vibration, optimizing the viewing experience.
“The more I see it, the more excited I am about it,” Dave added.
Although the Adolphsons have had a major estate gift to Monmouth in place for some time, they decided to increase it when senior development officer Mary Stahl sat with them at their kitchen table and informed them about the naming opportunity for the observatory in the Center for Science and Business.
“The new building appeals to Pris and me because it is not just brick and mortar,” Dave said. “It is a way to advance education and prepare students for real-world experiences.”
Providing a gift for the Adolphson Observatory is meaningful to Pris because she says she has loved the stars since she was a child. She remembers childhood trips to Utah’s Bryce Canyon, where she felt like she could reach out and touch the stars. Dave also remembers viewing the stars through a telescope owned by Drake University, near where he grew up in Iowa.
“It was awe inspiring to look through the telescope and see the heavens,” he recalled. “Each time, it filled me with awe and wonder.”
Dave remembers that the Drake telescope was off campus and not easily accessible. The Adolphson Observatory, on the other hand, is located on top of one of the college’s main buildings, providing easy access to students seeking a deeper look into space.
“Astronomy is an ancient study and was part of the traditional liberal arts of medieval times, so it’s a natural part of learning at Monmouth College,” said physics professor Chris Fasano. “Having the observatory on the roof gives us a wonderful opportunity to connect students, as well as the community, with the natural world and wonder of the sky. With easy access, we are already beginning to hear students of all ages gasp as they look through a telescope and view the sky without obstructions. Nothing beats the real thing. We are so delighted to be able to do this thanks to the generous gift from the Adolphsons.”
“When I was a student, Lyle Finley would have loved to offer astronomy but did not have the resources to add it to the curriculum,” said Dave. “All of Monmouth’s current physics staff are knowledgeable in astronomy, so we hope that Monmouth can inspire students to train for astrophysics.”
The telescope currently being used in the observatory was moved over from the former science building, but it will soon be replaced by a significantly more powerful instrument.
Prior to working at Objective Aim, Dave was an information systems and technology executive at Harris Trust and Savings Bank, Aon Corporation and, most recently, KPMG Consulting. He was also a business-oriented information technology consultant.
Even the Adolphsons’ leisure activities have profited from their Monmouth education. Dave’s music skills, broadened by Professor Heimo Loya, were put to use for many enjoyable years in the Elmhurst Symphony and other musical ensembles. Pris’ language skills, sharpened by Professor Dorothy Donald, have facilitated their preference for traveling on their own and experiencing the people and cultures of lands they studied under Professor Bernice Fox.
The Adolphsons believe it was important for them to give back to Monmouth College.
“The seed for giving back to the college was planted by (presidential secretary) Eileen Loya (’40) when I was a student,” said Dave. “She believed if you love Monmouth College, when you leave here you should stay involved and give back.”
That doesn’t always mean financially, he added, referring to his involvement in helping students and in serving on the alumni board.
Pris agreed, saying that giving back is a way to remember the ways that the college changed both of their lives.
“I loved Monmouth because it was a real growing-up experience,” she said. “I felt from the minute we graduated that we gave back what we could. We never thought we could give a gift like this, but by making an estate gift, we were able to do something truly grand.”
Now, because of the Adolphsons’ generosity, the students who have followed them to Monmouth’s campus will be able to see celestial bodies that are “truly grand.”