Building the Future: Col. (Il) J. N. Pritzker, ARNG (Ret.)

I would like to see Norwich continue to grow and prosper into its third century of successful operations. It is a model institution for not only the United States but for all nations striving for the optimum relationship between the military, the government and civilian community in a democracy. There is no other institution like it.—Col. (Il) J. N. Pritzker, ARNG (Ret.)

In April 2013, Col. (Il) J. N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Ret.), a billionaire investor and president of the Chicago-based Tawani Foundation, committed $25 million in advance of Norwich University’s Forging the Future bicentennial campaign. Her gift, the single largest in the university’s 195-year history, came with a challenge—it had to be matched by an equivalent largesse from current, former and fellow emeriti Norwich trustees. They did, and today the university’s Forging the Future campaign has already surpassed the halfway mark in achieving our goal of raising $100 million to prepare Norwich for its third century of service. We recently asked Col. Pritzker, who founded the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago and served on the Norwich University Board of Trustees from 1997-2007, about her historic gift to Norwich.

Why does supporting Norwich’s “Forging the Future Campaign” matter so deeply to you?

I would like to see Norwich continue to grow and prosper into its third century of successful operations. It is a model institution for not only the United States but for all nations striving for the optimum relationship between the military, the government and civilian community in a democracy. There is no other institution like it.

What do you hope Norwich students will gain as a result of your contribution?

I hope that my contribution will create greater opportunities for all Norwich students—cadets, civilian, commuters and distance-learners—to provide them more options in whatever careers they pursue after graduation. I also hope my gift will inspire them to invest in their alma mater at whatever level they are comfortable with throughout their lives.

How is a Norwich education distinctive and unique from your perspective? 

The intensity of living on a small campus in a rural setting. It is even more intense for the Corps of Cadets, who live in barracks that they manage, learning leadership and management skills in the process. Norwich alums and other members of the university family often maintain life-long bonds.

What is the legacy of a Norwich education?

The prime legacy is one of service, whether it is in the public, military, civilian or philanthropic sector. Graduates who pursue careers in business are often very successful operating profitable companies, yet have a strong ethic of service to the community. They often invest as much in philanthropy as for-profit enterprises, creating an environment for both to flourish.

Often Norwich graduates combine careers and activities. Grenville Dodge, Norwich Class of 1851, is a prime example. He was a successful railroad executive best known for his construction of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. He was also a successful field commander as a general in the Civil War. He left much of his large estate to Norwich University. I think he very much represented the model of what Norwich University founder Alden Partridge had in mind.

As a trustee board member, I was deeply impressed and inspired by graduates such as Fred Kreitzberg ’57 and Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan ’59. Both succeeded in the civilian world and in the military. Yet, at a time in their lives when others who have achieved as much professionally are content with retirement, they lead by example in their support of Norwich.