It’s been a very good year for North Central College — not just fiscal 2004-2005, the primary subject of this Annual Report, but also the first months of the 2005-2006 academic year — and yet it is also a year I will remember with some sadness.
Since this College’s last Annual Report, we have lost giants in the history of this school, members of the North Central family whose legacy is incandescent. They include two former chairmen of the Board of Trustees, remarkable men who were classmates and friends for 70 years, Clare Oesterle ’39 and Dan Ruge ’39;
two emeriti faculty members, Carolyn Fischer Berry and John Cerovski, who live on in the memories of thousands of graduates; and so many others, like long-time Trustees Harold Riebel ’41 and Paul Schwab ’53; passionate North Central fan Ruth Powers ’32; deeply committed recent graduate Mironda Heston ’02; and courageous staff member Sharon Munoz. Their deaths — their lives! — remind us how every triumph and success we celebrate today has its roots in the character and commitment of those who have loved and served this college over seven generations.
It is through their eyes that the record of the past year must be seen. Thanks to Ruth Powers, the second phase of the renovation of Oesterle Library was completed, making it at long last a library worthy of the Oesterle name. Thanks to the generosity of Robert Holmes ’66, Jack ’51 and Jane ’55 Koten and numerous others, Carolyn Berry’s and John Cerovski’s successors in the English department will finally have a home next fall — in Kiekhofer Hall (the remodeled Evangelical Theological Seminary administration building) — worthy of a great teaching tradition.
And then there are the fine arts.
For many years, the College has sought classroom and performance venues in the fine arts to match the quality of our teaching and traditions in music, music education, theatre and art. Over the past 15 months we have taken giant steps toward this dream. Detailed plans for the Wentz Concert Hall and the new art and theatre center (in the old Grace Church) are nearing completion. Recent major commitments from alumna Shige Nagamura ’54 and trustee Judy Stevenson toward these projects have taken fundraising to a critical point.
What would Dan Ruge and Clare Oesterle think of these developments … or the record class of new students this fall, the record full-time student enrollment of 1,910, or the best September and October for a North Central football team in 60 years? How would they view the numbers in this Annual Report — an endowment in excess of $60 million, a $9 million increase in net assets, more than 20 gifts of $50,000 or more? How would they look upon the extraordinary group of new faculty and key administrators recruited over the past year?
I believe they would be proud, very proud, and grateful to everyone named in this Annual Report, for your role in the College’s success. But I’m confident they would also remind me — and all of us — that there’s still much to accomplish. We owe it to the legacy they have bequeathed us.
Thank you for your commitment to this special college.
Harold R. Wilde
North Central Now, December 2005