North Central College - Naperville, IL

In his own words

Historian Clarence N. Roberts tells us that President Augustine A. Smith ‘bequeathed a greater influence to the philosophy of the institution than any other individual.’ Smith wanted the College to be ‘a great moral lighthouse, sending out a clear and steady light upon all subjects that pertain to the well-being of man’ …
I can never repay all the people who have brought me here today but I pledge all my talents and energies to insuring that the beacon on this ‘great moral lighthouse’ of North Central College endures, through the lives and works of our faculty and our graduates … who slowly, slowly, ever so slowly and steadily, ‘creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets,’ will in time ‘rend the hardest monuments of a man’s pride.’”

From the inaugural address “The Great Moral Lighthouse” by President Harold R. Wilde, May 18, 1991. Wilde concludes with a quote from philosopher William James, whose words hang on the wall in his office.

One of the realities of having lived 56 years is that you have experienced moments of tragedy and great national uncertainty and fear—such as the assassinations of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr.—and you know that the sun comes up the next day, and the next, and the next …You know, too, that tragedy tends to bring out the best in all of us—we reach out for our families and loved ones, we seek out ways that we can help, we bond with people of diverse backgrounds … With all its flaws, in its ideals and aspirations, America, in these moments we are reminded, is worth fighting for … indeed, dying for.”

Prayer Service, September 2001

Once again North Central sets the standard for small colleges throughout the nation, with a stadium/classroom complex unique in its capabilities—a structure that will stand, like Merner Field House, as a statement for generations to come about the character and commitments of this great college …
They are men of vision and guts, and this building, indeed this whole south campus complex, would not have been possible without their energy and passion and generosity of spirit. Let us give thanks to two alumni and trustees—and dedicated citizens of Naperville—who, in a very real sense, willed this building into existence: Dick Wehrli and Al Benedetti … You have reminded us that a college doesn’t get great—or stay great—without dreaming great dreams.”

Stadium Dedication, October 2001

‘I look forward to an America,’ President John F. Kennedy said, ‘which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all our citizens.’ We embrace that truth today, as we gather to inaugurate a wonderful new chapter in the history of this College and community, reflecting the enduring significance of the fine arts  in our lives … and our civilization.”

Groundbreaking for Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center with Dr. Myron Wentz ’63, October 2006

Is there any place you’d rather be than right here … right now? Absolutely not! Let’s have another fabulous year.”

State of the College opening meeting address for faculty and staff, 2006

All along the way, there have been prudent, conservative and generous men and women — trustees, faculty and staff — never spending a dime when a nickel would do, who President Wilde delivers the Sesquicentennial Convocation Addresswere nevertheless fearless in making the decisions and investments that would ensure the College’s survival and future success. These were — and are — men and women of faith (and hope!) who understand the unique privilege we have been given, to be stewards of something sacred, a mission of service to students and society that brings special meaning to each of our lives … For 150 years, the mission of this college has been about faith and hope, about preparing men and women who will shape the future, as citizens and leaders. That mission has never been more important. I have never been more hopeful—more confident—in the future of North Central College. Today we celebrate a promising start. Tomorrow we get to work on keeping that promise for the generations to come.”

Sesquicentennial Convocation Address, November 11, 2011

Many years ago, when I was a student in junior high school, I used to watch a neighbor—a retired man who was nearly 80 years old—go off every day early in the morning to the public library. He wouldn’t return until dinner time. I couldn’t understand it. Why—when my only goal in life was to avoid studying and reading, to get outdoors and enjoy life, why—when the only purpose of school activities like reading was to train for a job some day—was this man spending his days studying? He’d never hold a job again. And why was he always so happy?

So I asked him. And his answer, delivered with a smile … I have never forgotten: “Because there’s so much to learn.” So much to learn! That’s why the Evangelical Christians founded North Central College 151 years ago … There’s so much to learn.

And so long as you’re learning, you’re growing—and young in spirit. If we have succeeded at North Central College in your years here, it will be not just in what we have taught you, but also, in what you have learned here about learning. This is just the beginning … There’s so much to do. There’s so much to learn.
I hope that for you, this campus will always be home. And always be proud to wear your North Central cap! God speed and God bless.”

“The Old Man Story”
Final words at Commencement 1991-2012