Barry McNamara  |  Published September 22, 2022

Tartan Terrace

Picha ’75 funds new space outside of Hewes Library to celebrate her ‘phenomenal learning experience.’

MAKING IT OFFICIAL: Jerri Picha '75 is flanked at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Tartan Terr... MAKING IT OFFICIAL: Jerri Picha '75 is flanked at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Tartan Terrace by President Clarence Wyatt to her right and by vice presidents Hannah Maher and Mark Willhardt to her left.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College’s new Tartan Terrace was funded by an alumna who wanted to acknowledge her “phenomenal” undergraduate experience at the school and provide future students an intimate setting for learning and socializing.

As part of last Saturday’s Family Weekend festivities, Jerri Picha ’75 of Warrenville, Illinois, who served on the College’s Alumni Board for 10 years, spoke during the dedication ceremony for the terrace, which is located on the south side of Hewes Library.

She said the weekend of the ceremony and the terrace’s site were both very appropriate.

“This is the perfect day for this dedication as my first visit to the Monmouth campus was during Parents’ Weekend many, many, many years ago,” said Picha. “It was a beautiful fall day just like today.”

An English major at Monmouth, Picha spoke of fond memories of having classes in the homes of the late English professors Gary Willhardt and Adele Kennedy.

“Imagine that. A small group of students sitting in a professor’s living room discussing novels, plays, poems and authors,” she said. “What a phenomenal learning experience and wonderful memory.”

Similarly, Tartan Terrace will also facilitate small gatherings. Picha was inspired to fund the initiative a year ago after discussing it over lunch with Vice President for Development and College Relations Hannah Maher, who’d had the project on her wish list for some time.

“When Hannah mentioned the purpose that this terrace might serve, I couldn’t help but feel a connection,” said Picha. “I was excited that it could become a place right on campus that created opportunities for experiences similar to what I had enjoyed. I hope that it is a place for small groups to gather and interact with each other. And the location is absolutely perfect, because it is situated by the library, where I spent many hours of my Monmouth years studying.”

Seeing gift ‘in action’

The timing was also right, as Picha is able to see firsthand what her donation produced.

“My part in this project was initiated on the advice of my financial planner,” she said. “He suggested that even though Monmouth is mentioned in my will, it would be a wonderful idea for me to do something now for the College so that I could see the gift in action. I quickly learned that he didn’t mean that I should buy more books for the library or sheet music for the choir. He encouraged me to think a little bigger.”

“(My financial planner) suggested that even though Monmouth is mentioned in my will, it would be a wonderful idea for me to do something now for the College so that I could see the gift in action.” Jerri Picha

As a long-time facilities manager and president of her local library board, the thought of Picha supporting such a project at the Hewes Library was “a perfect fit,” said Maher.

“Jerri wanted to support greater outdoor space for our students, to be used as opportunities for classroom and musical performances, along with social gatherings,” said Maher. “This new space will do all those things and more.”

‘Where your dreams could become a reality’

Picha’s service to her alma mater as an active alumna is proof enough of her love of the College, but she took some time during her remarks to share what Monmouth meant to her.

“I am often asked what I liked best about attending Monmouth,” she said. “The answer is always the same. There was a sense of community on the campus, and it was a place where everyone mattered and was considered a unique individual. And it was a place where your dreams could become a reality.”

“My wish is that every student has the occasion at least once during their years here to spend time in this beautiful space. … However this terrace continues to be used in the future, I hope it will enrich the experience of every student at Monmouth, even if in just a small way.” Jerri PIcha

Picha spoke of the College’s “personal touch” and of knowing almost everyone in her class by name.

One of those classmates she knew very well, as her high school friend, the late Marsha Spleha Slaboch ’75, helped her decide on Monmouth.

“Her dad had dutifully researched every liberal arts college in the Midwest and had declared that Monmouth College was the best, hands down,” she said. “Had it not been for that high school friendship that began over 55 years ago, I probably never would have enrolled.”

In addition to Slaboch, Picha also thanked her father for instilling in her a love of books and her parents for their financial support that made Monmouth a possibility. She also praised Maher and Monmouth Director of Facilities Management Sarah Young for their assistance on the Tartan Terrace project.

“My wish is that every student has the occasion at least once during their years here to spend time in this beautiful space,” she said. “Maybe it will be for a small, intimate class similar to what I experienced. Maybe it will be for a social event. Maybe it will be for an open mic event or even a concert. Maybe it will be used as a place for quiet reflection about what the future may hold. However this terrace continues to be used in the future, I hope it will enrich the experience of every student at Monmouth, even if in just a small way.”

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