Donor Saves Wroxton's North Arms

If, like many Fairleigh Dickinson University students, you spent a semester at the University’s campus in Wroxton, England, then you are almost certainly familiar -- perhaps even very familiar --  with the North Arms, the 17th Century pub in the town of Wroxton, with its idyllic, picture-postcard garden and thatched roof. The Pub has been a center of town social life for FDU students since the University bought Wroxton Abby in 1965, and for the town’s residents since the pub opened in 1850.

But all that tradition was endangered when, in 2013, a developer purchased the Pub and, at a town meeting, announced his intention to turn the building into a private residence.

When word of the plans made its way across the Atlantic, Christopher Capuano, then FDU’s  provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and President Sheldon Drucker decided to develop a plan for the University to buy the property, renovate it and create a gastropub. It was a plan that would allow residents of Wroxton and FDU students studying at Wroxton College to continue enjoy the North Arms’ long tradition as the town’s center.

Capuano, Drucker and Senior Vice President for Advancement Richard Reiss determined what funds would be needed to accomplish the ambitious goals and began to look for private funding to move the project forward.

That’s when Cheryl Beebe MBA ’88 stepped forward. Although she did not have the opportunity to study abroad – she earned both her bachelor’s degree at Rutgers and her MBA at Fairleigh Dickinson by attending night school while working full time – Cheryl Beebe is passionate about Wroxton College. It is a passion that she attributes to the late J. Michael Adams, who, she says, reached out to her and cemented her relationship to her alma mater. Adams, president of Fairleigh Dickinson University from 1999 until 2012, made it part of his mission to extend and expand the vision of Peter Sammartino, the University’s founding president, of a global university that prepares it students for world citizenship. “It was really Michael Adams who drew me back into the FDU family,” said Beebe. “Wroxton was a special place for Michael and Susan Adams and I thought the world of Michael Adams.”

Beebe, who retired as the executive vice president and chief financial officer at Ingredion Incorporated 30 years after starting with the company as an administrative assistant, is a member of FDU’s Board of Trustees and an ardent supporter of the University. In addition to her gift of $350,000 toward the renovation of the North Arms, she contributes to the J. Michael Adams Global Education Scholarship, which assists student who wish to study abroad, has made a commitment to the new Campus Center planned for the Metropolitan campus, and generously supports Charter Day scholarships. In total, Beebe’s commitment to the University’s ongoing comprehensive campaign, One University Many Dreams, is more than $600,000.

But enhancing the experiences of students studying at Wroxton is the mission closest to Beebe’s heart.

“The North Arms to me was a perfect extension [of an FDU education],” she said. “It’s preserving history; it’s providing another experience; and it encourages our students to spend a semester at Wroxton.”

The renovations, now underway, include repairs to floors, walls, ceilings, exterior stonework and chimney stacks, a new thatched roof, new electrical, heating, ventilation and hot and cold water systems, a new kitchen, wheelchair access, a new bar and a refurbished dining room. In appreciation of Beebe’s generosity, the new, second floor restaurant will be called Beebe’s.

“The more that people are exposed to different cultures and different experiences, the more their horizons are broadened and the better their ability to think in a broader context,” said Beebe. “It gets you out of your comfort zone.”