North Central College - Naperville, IL

James Will named to North Central College’s Wall of Witness

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This is the fifth of five weekly installments profiling individuals who will receive Alumni Awards & Recognition on Nov. 11 during North Central College’s Sesquicentennial Homecoming Celebration.

Nov. 1, 2011—North Central College is honoring James Will of Arlington Heights by adding his name to the College’s Wall of Witness.

Will and four others will be honored during the College’s Sesquicentennial Convocation at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. This year’s event commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first day classes were held at the school on Nov. 11, 1861.

Will has served as a youth director and pastor. He taught religion at North Central College, was professor of philosophical theology at Evangelical Theological Seminary and professor of systematic theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, where he also was director of the Peace and Justice Center. In 1951, Will was named Seminarian Preacher of the Year in a national contest sponsored by the Christian Century and the Chicago Sunday Evening Club.  

He has been a leader in numerous community, denominational, National Council of Churches, World Council of Churches and Christian Peace Conference activities. He served as chair of Christians Associated for Relationships with Eastern Europe (CAREE); was president of the United Nations Association, U.S., Illinois-Greater Chicago Division; and was chair of the Consortium for International/Intercultural Theological Education.

Will has been a visiting professor or lecturer at nine universities or colleges in the United States, Israel, Poland and Zimbabwe. He has served as consultant to church leaders in East/West relations, written more than 40 articles for various journals and authored four books. His vibrant career and extensive publications have focused his ecumenical witness on peace and justice issues in the United States and around the world.

Will earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and sociology from North Central College in 1949. He holds a bachelor of divinity degree in theology from Evangelical Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and ethics from Columbia University.

North Central College’s Wall of Witness recognizes alumni whose lives have embodied the values of the College’s mission and heritage. Names of honorees are displayed in Kiekhofer Hall, which houses the College’s Koten Chapel.

Others being honored on Nov. 11 are Outstanding Alumni Award recipients Esther Benjamin of Mitchellville, Md., Col. Stephen Taylor of Lexington Park, Md. and J. Charles Eldridge of Wake Forest, N.C.; and Alumni Recognition Award recipient Ryan Dowd of Aurora.

North Central College’s yearlong Sesquicentennial Celebration commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first day of classes on Nov. 11, 1861, and the College’s role in helping to shape the fabric of the Naperville community. Throughout its history, North Central College alumni have distinguished themselves as leaders in the arts, sciences, business, education and many other areas of study. Numerous Sesquicentennial events and projects are planned throughout 2011 and into 2012. Visit to learn more.