Franken Center dedication set for April 8

Northwestern College will dedicate the James L. Franken Center for Faith, Learning and Living in an April 8 ceremony that is open to the public. The 11 a.m. program will be held in Christ Chapel during chapel.

Nancy Franken, the widow of Jim Franken, a 1975 NWC alumnus for whom the center is named, will speak on behalf of the Franken family. The program will also include a video tribute; music by the Frankens’ daughter, Jaymi Vandewater; comments by Dr. Erik Hoekstra, a former member of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees and co-worker of Franken; and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque by Northwestern President Greg Christy.

Northwestern’s Center for Spiritual Formation and Vocation was renamed in memory of Franken this fall. His family, friends and colleagues have contributed more than $500,000 to establish the James L. Franken Servant Leadership Program at NWC. The money will provide for programs, projects and positions that apply faith to servant leadership through entrepreneurial initiatives, academic innovations and experiential learning.

Franken was president and CEO of Interstates Companies and Harbor Group in Sioux Center, Iowa, at the time of his death in 2001 at the age of 48. He had overseen the companies’ growth from 110 to 400 employees in his six years at the helm. He also established the Interstates Foundation to provide ongoing support for nonprofit organizations.

Franken served as president of Northwestern’s Alumni Association and as a Board of Trustees member from 1989 to 1991. He was reappointed to the board in 1995, joining the executive committee in 1998 and serving as chair of the finance committee from 1999 until his death. In 2005, he was posthumously honored with the Distinguished Service to Northwestern Award.