As we noted in the eighth installment of “From the Archives,” the title of Sigurd Olson’s fifth book, Open Horizons, inspired the title for the Institute’s long-running newsletter Horizons. His book was also an inspiration for the Institute’s first capital campaign, “Open Horizons”.
As the organizers of the campaign explain in a little pamphlet titled “Open Horizons: A Challenge for All Minnesota Citizens,” the words of Olson’s book title “suggest two qualities of great importance to an educational institution: openness, connoting freedom of thought and association; and horizons, suggesting long views and broad domains.”
The plan for the Open Horizons campaign identified six purposes for the campaign, which included advancing the ideals which Sigurd Olson manifested in his career, contributing to the quality of life in northern Wisconsin and in the greater Lake Superior region, constructing a building for the Institute that would be a model of aesthetic and environmental distinction, and supporting the operations of the Institute during the 1978 fiscal year.
The steering committee for the campaign was co-chaired by John W. Joanis and Jonathan H. Morgan, and its financial goal was $640,000.
Early issues of the Horizons newsletter included updates on the Open Horizons campaign. In the July 1979 newsletter, for instance, an article reports that $515,000 had been successfully raised to date, but it also noted that the anticipated construction expenses for the first building design proposed by a Chicago architectural firm were more than twice the amount budgeted.
By the spring of 1980, the College had engaged a new architectural firm based in Duluth, and the Horizons newsletter included an optimistic, front-page article focused on the approved design for the new Institute building, which was developed by architect Jim Bergeson. As Institute director Tom Klein commented in the article, the proposed building was “a beautiful architectural statement” that “thoughtfully reflects Sig’s philosophy and life.”
With the Open Horizons capital campaign complete, construction of the Institute’s new building began in the summer of 1980. When the fall issue of the Horizons newsletter went to press, it included photos of Sigurd and his wife Elizabeth Olson touring the partially constructed building amidst wood scraps with carpenters on scaffolding in the background. The formal dedication of the building, a photo caption noted, was set for May 9, 1981.