Holmes Student Center History
The Holmes Student Center has served the Northern Illinois University community for more than a half-century.
The University Center, as it was originally called, opened its doors in the fall of 1962. Then-President Leslie Holmes described the facility as the “hearthstone” of campus and a unifying force for community.
The building’s highlights included the first campus bookstore, three food service areas, large rooms for meetings, an auditorium and a recreation hall with bowling alleys and billiards.
By 1968, the center had doubled in size, with the addition of a west wing topped by a 16-story tower that defined the building as a campus landmark. In 1974, the building was re-dedicated as the Leslie A. Holmes Student Center. As president of NIU from 1949 to 1967, Holmes led NIU through a phenomenal period of campus, enrollment and academic-programming growth.
During the 1989-1990 school year, the exterior of the tower was re-clad with white limestone panels. New, tinted windows were installed, and a lighted copper pyramid was placed over the top.