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Lewis Aviation Building Named for Brother Neil Kieffe, FSC

From: Lewis University


Published: April 4, 2016.

The Lewis University Aviation Building has been named in honor of Brother Neil Kieffe, FSC, who directed the highly regarded Aviation program at Lewis during the 1960s and 1970s when the building was constructed.

A ceremony to dedicate the building to Brother Neil was held Wednesday, March 30, on the Lewis campus in Romeoville. Students, faculty, staff and friends gathered with Brother Neil and University administrators and trustees for the dedication. In use since 1975, the building is located directly south of the Harold E. White Aviation Center on the west side of campus, adjacent to the Lewis University Airport.

“Brother Neil is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding persons in the proud and accomplished history of this university,” stated Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President of Lewis University, at the dedication ceremony. “In every role, in every setting, his leadership style has been consistent as one of incredible dedication, tireless effort, great intelligence, consistent collaboration, respect and appreciation for his colleagues, and above all, focus on the students.

“Brother Neil understood better than most, the value and the impact of an experience-based, career-related curriculum blended with the liberal arts curriculum,” Brother James continued.

Brother Neil currently serves as a senior education administrator at Bethlehem University in the Palestine, but he returned to the Lewis University campus to participate in the dedication ceremony. “I’m deeply honored to have this building carry my name,” said Brother Neil. “There are two great loves in my life, aviation and the Christian Brothers. I hope in some little way, the new name of this building represents the union of the strong aviation association at Lewis and the strong educational tradition of the Christian Brothers.”

Brother Neil was among the first De La Salle Christian Brothers to be assigned to then Lewis College in the early 1960s. He taught physics and aviation-related courses. He was the driving force for expansion of the Aviation program and for overseeing the construction of the building that now bears his name. “Designing the building wasn’t my design; it was our design,” said Brother Neil as he recalled the great dedication and collaboration of the faculty serving in that era.

Acting President of Lewis University from August of 1976 through June of 1977, Brother Neil then was a member of the University’s Board of Trustees for many years, continuing his service to the Lewis community.

Dolores Pavletic, alumna and current Lewis Board of Trustees member said, “Brother Neil laid the groundwork for growing a new, modern Aviation Department with new programs, and strengthening the reputation of Lewis’ excellence in aviation.”

Dr. Bonnie Bondavalli, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, noted: “Today, the Lewis University Aviation and Transportation Department has close connections with government and industry. It has interdisciplinary ties with other departments at Lewis, especially Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Computer Science. It has a comprehensive list of programs. In the fall of this year, the Aviation Department served almost 600 students.”

Professor R. Eric Jones, Chair of the Aviation and Transportation Department, invited Brother James, Brother Neil and aviation students Theron Edwards and Whitcliffe Roberts, to unveil a plaque commemorating the occasion.

Steven Zlatic, Director of University Ministry, teamed with aviation students William Riley and Whitcliffe Roberts to provide a blessing.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 7,000 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit for further information.

Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine