As the community center of Northwestern University’s students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests, the Norris University Center provides services and programs designed to benefit members of the University family. Through various forms of involvement and as an integral component of the university, Norris Center offers students, in particular, direct experiences in participatory decision-making, encourages self-directed activities, and educates for leadership and social responsibility in an effort to complement classroom learning. By cultivating a sense of community and a spirit of loyalty, the Center serves as a unifying force in the life of the University. We will work to accomplish our mission within the framework of the following deeply held values:
We value PEOPLE. We recognize that people, particularly students, are the most dynamic and unique resource available. We actively nurture and support bot h the intellect and the spirit of the total person.
- We value DIVERSITY. We actively foster an environment of mutual respect. We encourage actions and experiences that promote learning, understanding, and the celebration of individual cultures, orientations, perspectives, abilities, religions, and other qualities that embody the human experience.
- We value COMMUNITY. We encourage academic and personal interaction, strong relationships, and civility among all of our constituents. We are dedicated to building unity and common identity for Northwestern within the spirit of service to others as members of a global community.
- We value EDUCATION. We will create an environment that enhances the academic mission of the University by providing life-long learning opportunities for members of the community in a variety of formats. We will provide developmental opportunities for students to complement their classroom experience, enhance their personal growth, and increase their awareness of and appreciation for the artistic process and aesthetic responsibility.
- We value SERVICE. We will strive to provide a superior level of customer service. We will make every effort to accommodate the needs of the campus community with kindness, courtesy, and respect. We practice, encourage, and recognize service excellence at all levels.
- We value ACCOUNTABILITY. We will endeavor to know and respond to the determined needs of our community. We will work to anticipate the future environment and adapt programs, services, and facilities in response to these needs.
- We value FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY. We recognize the importance of planning and monitoring of fiscal resources in an effort to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us. We will consider financial implications in its appropriate place in the decision-making process.
Norris received its name from Lester J. Norris, an alumnus of Northwestern University who passed away in 1967. In his memory, the parents of Lester Norris contributed $2.5 million toward the construction of a student center on the recently finished lakefill.
Our logo, adopted in 2003, recalls the Old Oak native to the Evanston campus. In the 1800s, a large, old oak tree near Harris Hall served as a center for Northwestern community. We feel that Norris now plays the role of a nexus for our university and its students.
Since the dedication of the building in 1972, Norris has been the center for student activity at Northwestern University. Whether searching for artistic release, leadership opportunities, weekend movies, books, or just some friends and some grub, Norris has it, and much more. Students, faculty, staff, guests, and alumni alike can find something here. We hope to continue to build our Northwestern community, to foster old and new traditions, and to encourage Northwestern students to find their destination at Norris.
History of the Norris Oak
Northwestern was without a campus in 1853 when trustee Orrington Lunt began exploring sites north of Chicago. A majestic oak grove on the shore of Lake Michigan caught his attention, an oak grove that later impressed Lunt’s fellow trustees. The men purchased the 379-acre Foster Farm and began work on the new university. Northwestern took root when construction on the first building on campus, the Old College, finished in 1855.
Oak trees continued to play a large role in Northwestern’s history. The Old Oak, a 250-year-old Monarch Oak near University Hall, became the first gathering place for Northwestern students. Around the turn of the nineteenth century, students would gather underneath another oak, the “Trigonometree,” at the end of each term. There they burned their math books in ritual celebration, a ritual that spawned an annual student musical, the predecessor of today’s Waa-Mu show. Today, the Northwestern Alumni Association features an oak leaf in their logo, citing the oak as a symbol of Northwestern tradition as well as scholarship, strength, and steadfastness.
Mindful of Northwestern’s rich heritage, Norris University Center seeks to emulate the oak by offering a place to relax and spend time with friends. While the oak’s acorns represent the growth of students, faculty and staff, its branches represent the many services and program Norris has to offer. The roots represents Norris Center’s core values of people, diversity, community, education, service, accountability, and fiscal responsibility.
As students of Northwestern and employees of Norris University Center, we must continue the tradition and spirit symbolized by the oak by working hard and making Norris a destination for all students at Northwestern.