News & Updates

The Haydens' legacy to Bradley

Imagine expanding Bradley Hall to the west to house an Alumni Center that overlooks a landscaped Alumni Quad. Inside this architecturally expressive facility will be a place where alumni and their families can get together with current students and faculty. It will be a place where alumni can come home—a home away from home. It is a dream that could not have become a reality without the generosity of family and friends like Jerry ’59 and Marilyn Hayden '61 and alumnus Bob Clark ’67 and his wife Kathleen.

The University announced last fall that the Haydens and Clarks donated  $5 million, nearly half of what is needed to build the facility. Each family pledged $2.5 million toward construction of the new Alumni Center.  The 34,700-square-foot facility will be named the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center in recognition of their contributions.

“The Hayden-Clark Alumni Center will change the way we greet alumni and guests forevermore,” said Bradley President Joanne Glasser during the groundbreaking ceremony on October 1, 2009. “It will be a facility we can all be proud of. I’m confident the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center will be a wonderful addition to the Bradley campus and will encourage our alumni to be more involved with, and more supportive of, the university.”

“We alumni are all part of the group of people who will help sell the benefits of children and grandchildren attending Bradley over the years and decades.  This alumni center will help us do that,” said Hayden during the groundbreaking ceremony.

Jerry Hayden grew up in the Peoria area, graduating from Woodruff High School in 1951. Unable to afford college, he worked a series of unskilled jobs, continuing to dream of attending Bradley.  

“Imagine if I could get a college education and leave behind this life of back-breaking direct labor that I had been doing, like digging ditches for CILCO, pulling engine blocks around at a Caterpillar plant in East Peoria or cleaning and painting walls,” explained Hayden.

Then Jerry Hayden got a better invitation.  That  was a letter from Uncle Sam asking him to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.  While his dream of attending Bradley was put on hold, his military service provided him with the  resources—through the G.I. Bill—to afford that college education. After serving and protecting our country, Hayden enrolled at Bradley University in the College of Engineering in 1955.

After his first year, Hayden was awarded an athletic scholarship that covered his tuition expenses.  He served as captain of the track team and held the discus throw record for 17 years. Hayden had other varied interests on the Hilltop, including membership in the Vets club, Pi Kappa Alpha, the B-club.

Jerry and his wife Marilyn met while attending Bradley together. Marilyn was a member of Chi Omega. She has been Jerry’s foundation and soul mate for these many years.

His Bradley education and hard work led to great success in his professional life, and he eventually retired in 2007 after 35 years as chairman and CEO of Peacock Engineering.

Jerry also has the distinction of being elected to Bradley’s Athletic Hall of Fame and was awarded membership into Bradley’s Centurion Society that recognizes Bradley’s most accomplished alumni.

“The Haydens have been wonderful supporters of the University—beginning with a gift of ten dollars 40 years ago. Imagine what ten dollars can become when you have such a strong connection to an institution that you dearly love,” said President Glasser. “This Alumni Center has been a dream of the Haydens for some time. It is good fortune that their dreams and ours coincide here today. It is extraordinarily fortunate that Bradley can have such giving and noble friends and alumni.”

The Hayden-Clark Alumni Center, which will take 18 to 24 months to build, will include an alumni hall of pride, an alumni library, offices, conference rooms and a ballroom that can accommodate 300 guests. The view from the balconies over the new campus Alumni Quad is expected to be stunning, with aesthetically pleasing landscaping between the Markin Family Student Recreation Center, the Men’s Basketball Practice Facility and the Athletic Performance Center.

The cost of the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center is projected to be about $12 million. It is one of six building projects included in the $150 million Renaissance Campaign that was launched in April 2008.

Next week: Bob and Kathleen Clark.