North Central College - Naperville, IL

Gael D. Swing

1975-1990, Eighth President

Gael D. Swing, the eighth president of North Central College, was born on March 13, 1932, in LaPorte County, Indiana.

He graduated from Franklin College (Indiana) in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and business and received a master’s degree from Indiana University in 1963.

After a short period as a sales representative with the Burroughs Corporation, he accepted a position as an admission counselor at his alma mater and climbed the ladder as director of placement, director of admissions, business manager and vice president for development. After 15 years at Franklin College, he joined Washington University (St. Louis) as director of special program services in the development office. He was named executive vice president of North Central in 1973 and became president of the College two years later.

In his inaugural address in May 1976, Swing spoke directly to students: “There is just no telling what surprising doors or unexpected horizons a liberal arts education may open to you, as it did for me!… I told many of you about how my own life had been transformed by a church-related liberal arts college, and that I could conceive of no mission in which men and women of good will could join more wholeheartedly than that of building an institution like North Central College as a place where faith, life values, and intellectual development march together.”

Swing saw the integration of the seminary buildings into the College during his first years in office. He also oversaw the renovation and renaming of the Kroehler Science Center, the Larrance Academic Center, the Harold and Eva White Activities Center and the Clare and Lucy Oesterle Library. He founded the Center for Continuing Education and the adult education program known as Weekend College.

Clare Oesterle, class of 1939, who served as chair of the board of trustees during Swing’s presidency, described the president as a “fiercely committed man with rock-solid integrity. I learned that no matter how intensely he might engage in debate, he was still listening and searching for a best solution. Gael was a tough opponent and a powerful partisan, but he was deeply committed to quality in any assignment and any forum.”

During his tenure at North Central, Swing served as president of The National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church and as a senator to The University Senate of the United Methodist Church. A firm supporter of private education, he was a member of the board of directors of the Council of Independent Colleges, the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities, and the Associated Colleges of Illinois.

President Swing died of cancer on May 31, 1990. In his last message to the College community, he said: “What first attracted me to North Central was this College’s potential, and we’ve begun to realize that potential. By almost any measure the quality of this institution is better today, and that is directly attributable to the cooperation and the effort of hundreds—maybe thousands—of individuals who have been involved in the process… There are significant milestones in life for each of us, and I simply want to take this opportunity to thank all alumni and friends of the College for their part in what we have been able to accomplish.”