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Aurora University

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Title: Aurora University  
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Subject: Aurora, Illinois, Glen Tourville, Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference, Ed Puskarich, Ruth VanSickle Ford
Collection: 1893 Establishments in Illinois, Aurora University, Council of Independent Colleges, Education in Aurora, Illinois, Education in McHenry County, Illinois, Education in Walworth County, Wisconsin, Educational Institutions Established in 1893, Liberal Arts Colleges, Liberal Arts Colleges in Illinois, National Register of Historic Places in Kane County, Illinois, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Private Universities and Colleges, Private Universities and Colleges in Illinois, Universities and Colleges Founded by the Ymca, Universities and Colleges in Illinois, Universities and Colleges in Wisconsin, University and College Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in Illinois
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Aurora University

Aurora University
Motto Sapientes abscondunt scientiam
Motto in English
"Wise persons will carry away knowledge"
Established 1893
Type Private
Endowment $39.1 million[1]
President Rebecca L. Sherrick
Provost Andrew P. Manion
Undergraduates Aprx. 3,000
Postgraduates Aprx. 2,000
Location Aurora, IL, USA
Campus 37 acres (15.0 ha)
Athletics 19 NCAA Division III teams
Colors royal blue and white         
Nickname Spartans
Aurora College Complex (Eckhart, Davis & Wilkinson Halls)
Aurora University is located in Illinois
Location 347 S. Gladstone Ave.
Aurora, Kane County, Illinois, United States
Built 1912
Architectural style Tudor Revival
NRHP Reference # 84001126
Added to NRHP February 16, 1984

Aurora University is a private, nonprofit, co-educational [2]


  • History 1
  • Academics 2
  • Accreditation 3
  • Presidents 4
  • Campus facilities 5
  • Student activities 6
  • Athletics 7
    • Men's Teams 7.1
      • Baseball 7.1.1
      • Basketball 7.1.2
      • Cross Country 7.1.3
      • Football 7.1.4
      • Golf 7.1.5
      • Lacrosse 7.1.6
      • Soccer 7.1.7
      • Tennis 7.1.8
      • Track and Field (Indoor and Outdoor) 7.1.9
    • Women’s Teams 7.2
      • Basketball 7.2.1
      • Cross Country 7.2.2
      • Golf 7.2.3
      • Soccer 7.2.4
      • Softball 7.2.5
      • Tennis 7.2.6
      • Track and Field (Indoor and Outdoor) 7.2.7
      • Volleyball 7.2.8
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Aurora University was founded as Mendota Seminary in Mendota, Illinois, in 1893. At that time, the school was focused on education and training rooted in the Advent Christian Church. Within a few years of its founding, the seminary changed its name to Mendota College, and broadened its programs into a traditional liberal arts curriculum.

In 1911, residents of the nearby town of Aurora raised funds to construct a new college, led by funding from businessman Charles Eckhart, who founded the predecessor company to the Auburn Automobile Company. Recognizing mutual benefits, administrators of Mendota College moved their operations to Aurora and the school became known as Aurora College.

In 1971, Aurora College separated from the Advent Christian Church, and in 1985, changed its name to Aurora University to better reflect the breadth of its academic programs.

In 1992 the school entered into an affiliation agreement with George Williams College, in YMCA leaders to create a summer school where young men and women would gather for learning, fellowship and reflection. With the merger, the one-time summer school, camp and conference center now serves both undergraduates and graduate students in a variety of degree programs. Over the past decade, the historic George Williams College campus has been transformed through renovations to new structures including the creation of the Winston Paul Educational Center, Oak and Hickory lodges, the Beasley Campus Center and the Ferro Pavilion, where the annual Music by the Lake outdoor concert series takes place during the summer months.

Aurora University added a third location in 2009 with the opening of the Woodstock Center, which offers part-time MBA and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs. The center is located in Woodstock, Illinois, approximately 50 miles north of the university’s main campus.[3]

Today, Aurora University, the GWC campus, and the Woodstock Center are operated by the Board of Trustees of Aurora University and presided over by a chief executive officer. Each site has a team of senior administrators who report to the president.


Aurora University offers 40 undergraduate majors, numerous minors, a wide variety of master’s degrees, several graduate certificates in education, nursing and business, and online doctoral degrees in education and social work.[4]

The university is composed of the following:

  • The College of Arts and Sciences includes the Division of Fine Arts, the Division of Humanities, the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
  • The College of Education offers bachelor, master’s and doctoral degree programs in education. The college also includes the School of Health and Physical Education.
  • The College of Professional Studies includes the Dunham School of Business, School of Nursing and School of Social Work.
  • Academics at George Williams College of Aurora University (GWC) offers 16 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, with most courses occurring on the George Williams College campus, in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. GWC also offers doctoral programs in education and social work.[5]
  • The Woodstock Center, located in downtown Woodstock, offers graduate programs in nursing, business and education, and adult degree completion programs in business, communication and nursing.
  • Aurora University Online offers adult degree completion programs, master's degrees and endorsements in a completely online format.

The university states that its student-faculty ratio is 15:1, and that the average class size is 23 students.[6]

Aurora University operates on a semester-based academic year. The school also offers an international- and service-focused “May Term” program at the conclusion of the spring semester, as well as summer courses.


The Higher Learning Commission accredits Aurora University at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.[7]

The Aurora University baccalaureate nursing program is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

The Master of Science in Nursing program at Aurora University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 887-6791.

The College of Education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The School of Social Work is fully accredited by the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE). The School of Social Work is accredited at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.


  • J. Oscar Campbell - 1893
  • A.W. Sibley - 1894
  • C.V. Clum - 1895–1898
  • M.L. Gordon - 1898–1901
  • Nathan C. Twining - 1901–1906
  • Bert J. Dean - 1906–1911
  • Orrin Roe Jenks - 1911–1932
  • Theodore Pierson Stephens - 1933–1962
  • James E. Crimi - 1962–1973
  • Lloyd M. Richardson - 1974–1978
  • Allan Stone - 1978–1988
  • Thomas Zarle - 1988–2000
  • Rebecca L. Sherrick - 2000–present

Campus facilities

The Aurora campus is based primarily around a traditional quadrangle and adjacent areas. In total, the campus is approximately 32 acres. All buildings constructed by the university have red tile roofs (with the exception of two, which continue the red theme on exterior wall panels), a stipulation of Charles Eckhart in his initial donation in the early days of Aurora College.[8]

Buildings include:

  • Alumni Hall: Includes the primary student dining hall, the University Banquet Hall, Thornton Gymnasium, athletic offices and a weight room. In 2010, construction began on a new wing for Alumni Hall, which opened in 2011 to house several academic programs and classrooms primarily for the nursing and social work programs.
  • Centennial Hall: The most recently built residence hall on the Aurora campus, Centennial Hall houses both female and male upperclassmen.* Davis Hall and Memorial Hall: Originally built in 1912 to house male students, Davis Hall was renovated in 2004. Memorial Hall was built in 1955 as a women-only extension to Davis Hall, and was renovated in 2002. Both buildings are now co-educational residence halls.
  • Dunham Hall: Includes the university bookstore, Dunham School of Business, a student dining area and classrooms.
  • Eckhart Hall: Includes central administration functions, classroom space and Lowry Chapel. Along with Davis Hall and Wilkinson Hall, Eckhart was one of the three original buildings of Aurora College.
  • The Institute for Collaboration: Includes a partnership school with West Aurora School District 129, which provides classes for 200 local elementary students; the Caterpillar Center for Teaching and Learning; and classrooms. The Institute also houses the 500-seat Crimi Auditorium, which includes a new pipe organ that was dedicated in 2010.
  • Jenks Hall: Built in 1957, Jenks Hall is a residence hall primarily for upperclassmen, and also includes the university fitness center and wellness center.
  • John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School: The STEM Partnership on the Aurora University campus serves students in third through eighth grades from the East Aurora, Indian Prairie and West Aurora school districts. It is staffed through a unique professional development strategy that engages teachers from the partner districts as faculty while they complete AU graduate coursework and become leaders in mathematics and science education.
  • Parolini Music Center: Named for alumni and supporters Roger and Marilyn Parolini, the facility includes a music ensemble room, art studio, two teaching studios and music practice rooms.
  • Phillips Library: Built in 1962, the library’s collection includes more than 99,000 books and 7,000 multimedia materials. The building includes a computer lab, the Center for Teaching & Learning and study rooms.
  • Stephens Hall: Houses the Fox River Valley Center for Community Enrichment, Perry Theatre, the School of Nursing and the “Spartan Spot” student commons area.
  • Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action: Located in a restored modern home designed by the architecture firm Keck and Keck, the Wackerlin Center is the hub for campus ministries, community service and leadership studies.
  • Watkins Hall: Watkins Hall houses freshmen in air-conditioned double rooms and suites. The building is co-ed by wing, with same-gender, community-style bathrooms located on each floor.
  • Wilkinson Hall: One of the original residence halls on campus, Wilkinson Hall was built in 1912 and houses freshmen and upperclassmen.[9]

George Williams College of Aurora University is located on the shores of Geneva Lake in Williams Bay, Wisconsin and includes 137.5 acres of property.

Buildings include:

  • Beasley Campus Center: Originally built in 1980 and named for the Beasley family, the center was expanded in 1996 and remodeled in 2007. It currently houses the campus dining facilities, space for concerts, banquets and receptions. Housed within the building are the Elliot Frank Activities Center and the Sir George Williams Room, a replica of Sir George Williams’s room in London where he held meetings.
  • Brandenburg Hall: Designed by Emery Stanford Hall and built in 1916 this building includes offices for Music by the Lake, a summer concert series held annually. It is named after former GWC trustee and Associate General Secretary of the YMCA National Council, Earl Brandenburg.
  • Coffman Residence Hall: Named for past GWC president Harold Coffman, this building was built in 1960 and includes single rooms for student housing.
  • Emery Residence Hall: Built in 1998 and named after the Emery family, this student housing includes double and triple rooms and large gathering spaces.
  • Ferro Pavilion: Home to summer music series Music by the Lake, the permanent outdoor facility was built in 2008 and named in honor of lake residents Michael and Jacky Ferro in recognition of their generous leadership gift. Presented by George Williams College of Aurora University, Music by the Lake is an outdoor entertainment series that features big band, classical, musical theater, family shows, opera and classic rock concerts throughout the summer months. The Ferro Pavilion provides concertgoers an up-close open-air performance experience complete with views of the lake. On select nights guests can also pack a picnic and enjoy the music on the open-seating lawn areas.
  • Hamlin Welcome Center: The welcome center is home to the Office of Admission where representatives greet prospective students. It is named in honor of former GWC president Richard E. Hamlin.
  • Ingalls Children’s Building: Designed by Emery Stanford Hall and erected in 1926, it was built in memory of Ruth Ann Ingalls.
  • Lewis Hall: Designed by Emery Stanford Hall, a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright, the building was constructed in 1898 as a dining hall and named for YMCA secretary William Lewis. Today it houses the newly redesigned College Inn, an a la carte restaurant for students and the public open year-round and a space for student activities. The building also includes a college gift shop.
  • Lowrey Hall: Named in honor of Lucy Eva Lowrey, this building provides year-round space for groups.
  • Mabel Cratty: A 1926 gift to the campus from the national YWCA the Mabel Cratty Building was designed by Emery Stanford Hall and created as a place for reading and contemplation. Named for the YWCA secretary, the building was renovated in 2012, an effort which was celebrated by the Wisconsin chapter of the American Institute of Architects with an Award of Merit. Inside Mabel Cratty, is Duncan Hall, named in honor of retired GWC Senior Vice President Bill Duncan and wife Laverne. Today it serves as a gathering space for the campus and lake communities.
  • Meyer Hall: Named for former trustee Frank Meyer Jr., this hall was built in 1957 and renovated in 2007. It is home to faculty offices and a learning center.
  • Oak and Hickory Residence Halls: Completed in 2003, these two adjacent buildings are used for student housing and include double and triple rooms.
  • Weidensall Administration Building: Named for Robert Weidensall, one of three founders of the campus, the building was constructed in 1910 and designed by Emery Stanford Hall. The Conference Center, which organizes campus space for business meetings, social gatherings or over-night retreats, is also located in this building.
  • Winston Paul Educational Center: Built with funds from the Winston Paul trusts and dedicated in 2004, the Educational Center is the main academic building on campus with classrooms, computer lab and meeting rooms.

Student activities

Dozens of officially recognized student groups exist at Aurora University.[10] According to the school, they include:


Aurora University fields 21 NCAA Division III intercollegiate athletic teams. Approximately 40 percent of the student population participates in intercollegiate sports. All Spartan athletic teams compete in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference with the exception of the men’s lacrosse team, which is part of the Midwest Lacrosse Conference. The primary athletics facilities are Thornton Gymnasium, located in Alumni Hall, and Vago Field, which serves as the football, soccer and lacrosse field. The Vago Field grandstand seats 600 people.

Aurora University athletic teams have captured 123 conference championships in school history. Since joining the NCAA in 1982, AU men’s and women’s teams have won 103 conference championships and appeared in 59 NCAA tournaments.[11]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2010. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2010 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2009 to FY 20010" (PDF). 2010 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved February 17, 2010. 
  2. ^ "About Us". "Aurora University Web Site". Aurora University. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Mission and History". "Aurora University Web Site". Aurora University. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Academics". Aurora University Web Site. Aurora University. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Academic Programs". "George Williams College of Aurora University Web Site". Aurora University. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Academics". "Aurora University Web Site". Aurora University. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Directory of HLC Institutions". "The Higher Learning Commission Web Site". North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  8. ^ "About Us". "Aurora University Web Site". Aurora University. Retrieved September 9, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Residence Halls". "Aurora University Web Site". Aurora University. Retrieved September 9, 2011. 
  10. ^ "A-Z List of Student Organizations". "Aurora University Web Site". Aurora University. Retrieved September 9, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Aurora University Athletics – Championship History". "Aurora University Athletics Web Site". Aurora University Athletics. Retrieved September 9, 2011. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Aurora University Online
  • Official athletics website
  • Aurora campus map
  • George Williams College campus map
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