North Central College - Naperville, IL

President's Message

My wife Benna and I were walking outside our hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in March when I looked up and saw a spectacular skyscraper that seemed very familiar. “I think that’s the building Bob sent us the book about,” I said. We walked inside, and at the front desk was a woman wearing a uniform bearing the name U.S. Equities. Yes, this magnificent building by the distinguished architect Cesar Pelli was developed by Robert Wislow ’67, chairman and CEO of U.S. Equities Realty, LLC, the same North Central alumnus who had a key role in the development of Chicago’s wonderful Millennium Park, the Harold Washington Library and the new John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. Sometimes I wish I could put a big North Central College flag on every project he’s been a part of!

Name recognition is one of the challenges of being a small college that doesn’t play nationally televised football or basketball. When strangers in other regions of the country ask me about the College, I sometimes say, “You may not have heard of us, but you’ve probably heard of Maytag and Texaco; both were founded by our alumni.” 

An April article in USA Today highlighted the fact that you don’t have to go to an Ivy League university to become a CEO. One of the chief executives featured was Brenda Barnes, an Augustana graduate, who heads Sara Lee. A Naperville resident, she has also done some teaching at North Central. It got me thinking again about the many North Central graduates in positions of great responsibility and visibility, whose names may be better known (if you Google them) than their alma mater. Here are just a few:

He appeared on the cover of the April 2005 Milwaukee Magazine with three of his siblings. John Daniels ’69 is one of the most influential citizens of Wisconsin, among the top real estate lawyers in the nation, and a partner with his sister (with whom he appeared on the September 1994 cover of Black Enterprise Magazine) in more than 100 fast-food restaurants — just another North Central graduate who went to Harvard Law School.

Ever use a credit card with a hologram on the front and a magnetic stripe on the back? Chances are it was made possible by products developed by CFC International, a company headed by Roger Hruby ’58, one of North Central College’s great alumni entrepreneurs and the current chair of our Board of Trustees. So wherever you go in the world, you have a little piece of North Central in your wallet. 

Another CEO and entrepreneur whose impact has touched hundreds of thousands of lives is Dr. Myron Wentz ’63, who, in addition to being a generous benefactor of his alma mater (see the December 2003 Now), is known world-wide by health conscious consumers of his Usana Health Sciences, Inc., nutritional products, both as a scientist and as a symbol of his company.  

The list goes on and on — and it isn’t just corporate CEOs.

  •  The Nobel prize-nominee who synthesized the drug chloromycetin? Dr. Mildred Rebstock ’42
  • The chief financial officer at two of the largest insurance companies in the world?  Jerry de St. Paer ’64, executive vice president and CFO of XL Capital Ltd.
  • The head basketball coach at one of the top Division I programs? Dr. John Giannini ’84, LaSalle University
  • The White House physician when President Ronald Reagan was shot? Dr. Daniel Ruge ’39
  • The top commercial developer in San Diego, Calif., and Austin, Texas? John Tworoger ’65

There are so many more I should mention. But you get the idea. Whenever the name of one of our alumni goes up in lights, I see North Central College on the marquee right there next to it — for “best performance in a supporting role.” I hope you do, too.

* * *

The end of the academic year marks the graduation not only of the senior class and master’s candidates, but also of many individuals who have dedicated their lives to the education of our students. This year five professors will retire from full-time service to the College: Margery Fetters, associate professor of management and marketing; Daphne Lee, associate professor and chair of accounting; Dr. Mary Yueh Ping Liaw, professor of physics; Dr. Winifred Makowski, associate professor of education; and Dr. Howard Mueller ’58, C. Frederick Toenniges Professor of Religious Studies and chair of philosophy and religious studies. And two long-time staff members in key positions — Athletic Director Walter Johnson ’80 and Dean of Admission Marguerite Waters — will be moving on to new opportunities outside the College. We salute them all … and thank them for their great service and for carrying the North Central flag so ably.     

Harold R. Wilde

North Central Now, June 2005