Large Gift from Charlotte ’74 & Norman Codo Supports Sciences at USF

Dec. 22, 2018 | Joliet, Ill.

With the end of 2018 approaching quickly, the University of St. Francis (USF) was thrilled to learn it has received a transformative gift of well over $1 million from Charlotte ’74 and Norman Codo. The gift partially consists of property located at 11700 West Stuenkel Road in Frankfort, Illinois, which includes a farmhouse, barn, garage, shed, large organic garden and orchard that are seated on approximately 47 acres of land, 24 of which have been restored to native Illinois prairie. The gift also establishes an endowment fund that will be used to maintain the entire property.

“We are grateful for this generous gift that will extend the footprint of the USF campus and the reach of our science program,” said USF President Arvid Johnson, Ph.D. “Students’ learning will be enhanced by being able to conduct research on the prairie, native plants, and soil in the area; and, the campus community will benefit from having extended space for events and lectures.”

When the Codos originally acquired the property in 1976, it was comprised primarily of farmland. When the original farmhouse located there was destroyed by a fire in the early 2000s, the couple decided to build a new home in 2003 and took up residence on the property. It was at that time that the couple also began efforts to convert 20 acres of the property back to its original prairie state. Since then, Charlotte has planted over 200 trees and a variety of plant life, which along with other efforts, has led to the successful restoration of the prairie. The Codos have also shared their resources with and supported efforts of others working on conservation, gardening and sustainable local food products.

The property’s prairie, which will be named “The Charlotte Codo Prairie”, has since thrived and has attracted interest from the USF science program. At the start of the 2018-2019 school year, USF students began travelling to the property two days each week to conduct research in the property’s prairie area. According to William Bromer, professor of natural sciences at USF, the property offers countless benefits to the university’s students and faculty.

“The Codo property, especially the prairie restoration, will give students and faculty the opportunity to conduct manipulative field experiments that we could not conduct on public land. In the past, our only field sites were on properties that carried with them a variety of restrictions and limitations that were, in turn, placed on the students and faculty,” Bromer said.

“The property will also allow us to support long-term experiments that will allow students to develop their own semester or year-long projects in the context of larger research questions.” Bromer added. “We will be able to monitor the effects of the removals of invasive plant species, the survival of planted seedlings, the abundance and distribution of soil arthropods, and the effect of edges on plants, insects, and rodents. We will also be able to compare the Codo Prairie to other restored prairies in the area to better understand management of restorations and the effects on ecosystem services such as water filtration, carbon sequestration, pollination, native and non-native bee survival, and nutrient cycling.”

The university plans to incorporate other programs that will engage science students with aspects of the property, and will also explore other ways to involve students studying in other disciplines to benefit from the location.

The Codos’ generosity continues to positively impact USF students. The couple established the Charlotte Codo Scholarship in 1987, which is awarded annually to a deserving student who is taking at least one course in French and/or Art. This year, the scholarship will also be opened to nursing students.

Charlotte Codo majored in French and Art at the College of St. Francis. Her French teacher at CSF, Charles Maleczewski, inspired Charlotte’s life-long love of learning and the arts. She also studied nursing at Wesley College, part of Northwestern University’s Chicago campus. An avid artist, Charlotte continues to spend much of her time painting. Norman Codo was a Joliet attorney and is now retired.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 49,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

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