North Central College - Naperville, IL

Old-school uniform. Up-to-date advisor.

A few will recognize Tom Cavenagh, Schneller Sisters Professor of Leadership, Ethics and Values, who happens to be the team’s faculty mentor. “It’s one of my favorite memories—the first time he showed up in his red old-school socks, white baseball pants and red ‘Cavenagh’ jersey,” says pitcher Chris Toy ’09.

“Coach,” as he’s called, sits on the bench during games and warms up the right fielder between innings. But his role goes beyond baseball fundamentals. “A faculty mentor demonstrates the whole picture of collegiate life for student-athletes,” says Cavenagh. “It sends a message that the entire experience is connected—not compartmentalized.”

Each of the College’s 22 teams has at least one faculty mentor. Dr. Nancy Peterson, professor of chemistry, works with players and the coach of the women’s basketball team. Dr. Karl Kelley, professor of psychology, mentors women’s volleyball. Their goal is to encourage the connection between student-athletes and faculty members outside the classroom.

“Students get a sense that there’s honest collaboration between faculty and coaches to create a great academic experience,” says Cavenagh, who also is director of the College’s Leadership, Ethics and Values program.

And the baseball team appreciates the presence of a favorite campus professor. “We call him ‘Coach’ even though he’s not really a coach,” Chris adds. “But we really do see him as a leader.”