Lisle, Illinois~ In the late 1880s, a handful of monks established a school for the sons of Czech immigrants in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. A few years later, they purchased a tract of land and moved the college some 25 miles west to a thinly-populated area of DuPage County.
The handful of Benedictine monks who gazed across their newly-purchased school site in 1896 would be amazed at how the school has grown and what it has become. They would be pleased to know that the University continues to bring the Benedictine message to the world, and continues to listen and evolve to meet the growing needs of students.
2012 marks Benedictine University's 125th anniversary. A series of special events commemorating the event are planned throughout the year. The first was held March 2 to honor the monks of St. Procopius Abbey, the original "founders" of Benedictine, whose vision, values and belief in providing a quality Benedictine education continue to drive the University.
Throughout its 125-year history, academic excellence has been at the forefront of a Benedictine education, with individual attention and care given to each person by a faculty rich in experience and education and a staff dedicated to the well-being and success of every student. Embracing the Catholic education tradition and Benedictine values, the University continues to prepare students for roles as leaders and citizens in an increasingly global community.
"Our students are welcomed, then nurtured and challenged in mind, body and spirit," said Benedictine University President William J. Carroll, Ph.D. "Their Benedictine experience takes them through academics, athletics, clubs, organizations, volunteerism and more. Through it all they are reminded and encouraged to seek out the best in themselves and others."
From its modest beginnings, Benedictine has become one the most celebrated universities in the country, ranking among the top 20 percent of America's colleges by Forbes magazine. The University has grown from 11 sons of immigrants in the early 1900s to more than 10,000 students of all races, nationalities and religions. Benedictine is ranked sixth in Illinois for Racial Diversity by U.S. News & World Report.
Growth and change have been constants. After the dedication of Benedictine Hall in 1901, new buildings were added throughout the early 1900s. Although it had admitted women from time to time, the College became fully coeducational in 1968. In 1971, it changed its name to Illinois Benedictine College. In 1996, the College was renamed Benedictine University.
The physical campus has undergone a remarkable facelift in recent years. The Birck Hall of Science and the Kindlon Hall of Learning were built in 2001. The Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, a unique cooperative venture between a governmental body and private university, was dedicated in 2005. Renovation of the Dan and Ada Rice Center was completed in October 2011.
In the past 10 years, Benedictine University has established a presence in Asia and now offers two master's degree programs in China and Vietnam. Benedictine established a branch campus in Springfield that was formally approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education in 2010, and today is planning to add a branch campus in Mesa, Ariz.
Academically, Benedictine now offers more than 50 undergraduate majors, 16 master's degree programs and four doctoral programs. The Center for Values-Driven Leadership, one of the first of its kind anywhere, promotes ethical and sustainable business practices. The Center for Lifelong Learning makes affordable educational programs available to seniors.
Other initiatives include the "Illinois Back to Work" program, which seeks to reduce Illinoisunemployment by providing a free education to qualified students; the Center for Civic Leadership, which promotes responsible citizenship; and the Women's Institute for Global Leadership, which seeks to empower and educate women throughout the world.
Benedictine University is always evolving, always growing and always leading. For 125 years and into the future, Benedictine will keep the vision of those early monks alive and stand as a global leader in values-based higher education.
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.