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Loyola University Chicago

Community Relations

Looking Back, Looking Forward: History of Retreat and Ecology Campus

Loyola Neighborhood News: Retreat and Ecology Campus - V3, I1

Loyola University Chicago, the nation’s largest Jesuit, Catholic university, purchased the 98-acre Resurrection Retreat Center located at 2710 South Country Club Road in Bull Valley, Illinois, from the Congregation of the Resurrection in 2010.  Since that time, the campus has been a flurry of activity from renovations to the building to spiritual retreats, environmental and continuing education course offerings, creation of a new organic farm on-site.

Originally built in the 1970s as a novitiate for the Congregation of the Resurrection, the building was later converted to a retreat center in the 1980s by the Congregation. After adding an additional wing and 50 rooms to the center in the early 2000s, the retreat center eventually closed in 2009.
The center, now named the Loyola University Chicago Retreat and Ecology Campus or LUREC for short, is used for a number of different purposes and features 100 guest rooms, a chapel, a full-service dining area, and meeting space.

The acquisition of the retreat center allows the University to expand its student retreat and outdoor programs. Through the newly completed challenge course, students learn group development, relationship and trust-building in an environment that fosters self-awareness, increased self-efficacy and leadership development.

Additionally, retreat opportunities are offered to all first-year students and the University also plans to introduce retreat-program opportunities for sophomores, juniors, and seniors as well.
“Making the University a sanctuary for self-reflection is an important part of the University’s strategic plan,”said Robert Kelly, vice president for student development.

”Offering retreats allows us to provide a significant experience for our students. Building a strong tradition of retreats geared towards their developmental needs supports the spirit and principles of a transformative education and will enable us to provide a premier undergraduate experience unmatched by any other Jesuit college and university.”On the academic side, the University’s biology department and Center for Urban Environmental Research and Policy (CUERP) has structured robust coursework and research opportunities as the site.

With 20 acres of natural habitat that includes ponds, streams, woods, and prairie land, the property offers a unique learning opportunity for students and faculty interested in the sciences.

This past summer, students enrolled in courses in Ecology and Sustainable Agriculture. 

McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) welcomed Loyola students for lectures on restoration and offered advice on restoring the wetland and woodland.  A number of other county agencies and resources have consulted on the restorations as well as offered physical help for carrying out a burn last fall with another scheduled this fall. Some of the agencies include the Land Conservancy of McHenry County, Soil and Water Conservation District of McHenry County, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, and the Wildlands (wildfire) Team.

Currently, faculty and students are investigating ways to restore the hydrology of the fen so as to eliminiate the buckthorn and honeysuckle that now dominate it.  Currently underway is a process to clear an oak knoll next to the wetland of honeysuckle and buckthorn and work is being done to the protect the oak seedlings that were present.

Last fall, CUERP conducted a field course in which students designed, planted, and maintained an organic garden on the grounds, with intent to expand into a small sustainable farm that students, as well as local community members, will participate in. The students are already raising chickens on site. 
This fall and spring, through the Contiuum, the University’s continuing education program, Loyola offer courses the importance of eating locally and supporting local farms, with tour of the McHenry Farmers Market and cooking demonstrations.

”This acquisition makes a lot of sense for our University, and we are thrilled that we had the opportunity to make this land a part of Loyola University Chicago,” said Wayne Magdziarz, vice president of capital planning. ”Our students, whether through retreat opportunities or field research, clearly benefit from this new space.”
The retreat center is also available to external groups and organizations. Meeting spaces are welcoming and encourage a true retreat experience.  With a fundamental guiding principal of conservation, as well as a policy of reducing, reusing and recycling, the campus offers renewal of the mind, body and spirit. 

The kitchen is managed by local chef Scott Commings with a team that creates all meals from scratch, utilizing only fresh ingredients and using local products throughout the season.

For more information or to plan your event, contact Patricia Carty or Amanada Hitterman at 815-338-1032 orlurec@luc.edu.

Loyola Neighborhood News is your source for updates, new programs and offerings. LNN is distributed from the Department of Community Relations. For more information, please visit LUC.edu/communityrelations or e-mail communityrelations@luc.edu.

About Loyola University Chicago:

Committed to preparing people to lead extraordinary lives, Loyola University Chicago, founded in 1870, is the nation’s largest Jesuit, Catholic university. Enrollment is more than 15,800 students, which includes more than 10,000 undergraduates hailing from all 50 states and 82 countries. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola also serves as the U.S. host university to The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies in Beijing, China. Loyola’s 10 schools and colleges include arts and sciences, business administration, communication, education, graduate studies, law, medicine, nursing, continuing and professional studies, and social work. Loyola offers 71 undergraduate majors, 71 undergraduate minors, 85 master’s degrees, and 31 doctoral degrees. Loyola is consistently ranked among the top national universities by U.S.News & World Report, and the University was named a best valuein its 2010 rankings. In addition, Loyola is among a select group of universities recognized for community service and engagement by prestigious national organizations, such as the Carnegie Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service. For more information about Loyola, please visit LUC.edu.

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