North Central College
Former names
North Central:
Plainfield College (1861–1864)
North-Western College (1864–1926)
Mount Carroll Seminary (1852–1896)
Frances Shimer Academy of the University of Chicago (1896–1907)
Frances Shimer Junior College (1907–1950)
Shimer College (1950–2017)
MottoLux Veritas (Latin)
Motto in English
"Light of Truth"
TypePrivate college
Established1861; 163 years ago (1861)
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church
Endowment$112.3 million (2020)[1]
PresidentAnita Thomas[2]
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States
CampusMidsize city[3], 69.4 acres (0.281 km2)
NewspaperThe Chronicle
ColorsCardinal red and white    
Sporting affiliations
MascotChippy the Cardinal

North Central College is a private college in Naperville, Illinois. It is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and has nearly 70 areas of study in undergraduate majors, minors, and programs through 19 academic departments organized in three undergraduate colleges/schools (College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Entrepreneurship, School of Education and Health Sciences) and a masters program (School of Graduate and Professional Studies).


NCC Old Main in May 2013

North Central College was founded in 1861 as Plainfield College in Plainfield, Illinois. Classes were first held on November 11 of that year. On February 15, 1864, the Board of Trustees changed the name of the school to North-Western College. The college moved to Naperville in 1870 and the name was again changed in 1926 to North Central College.

In June 2017, North Central College acquired Shimer College and instituted the Shimer Great Books School of North Central College.


The college is on a 65-acre (24 ha) campus in downtown Naperville on Chicago Avenue.

Old Main was completed in 1870 and remains the focal point of campus.[4]

In the early 1900s, College President Herman J. Kiekhoefer and Judge John S. Goodwin initiated contact with philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to seek out funds for new facilities on campus. Carnegie agreed to donate $25,000 (approximately $679,059 in the current consumer price index) to then North-Western College for a new library building. Carnegie Library, as it was called, was one of only a few academic libraries in Illinois that received funding from Carnegie. The building still exists on campus and is now known as Carnegie Hall.

Pfeiffer Hall is North Central College's oldest fine arts building. The 4,500-square-foot building was built in 1926 and seats 1,057. This structure has been historically used by the college to screen films and host lectures, debates, and theatrical productions. Today Pfeiffer Hall continues to host events such as these along with live performances by popular music artists and comedians.

In 2008, North Central College dedicated the $30 million Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center. Designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Loebl Schlossman & Hackl, the 57,000-square-foot (5,300 m2) facility was planned and sited with the needs of both the College and the Naperville community in mind. Plans evolved over a 15-year period, driven by explosive growth in the college's music, theatre and art programs, as well as the parallel transformation of the city's downtown, which has brought more than 50 restaurants, numerous national stores and the first four- and five-story buildings within a few blocks of the North Central campus.

The concert hall is named in honor of Myron Wentz, Class of 1963. Nearly $10 million in gifts from Wentz — a scientist, entrepreneur, and music lover — over the past two years have brought the facility to center stage. Plans for a new fine arts center were put on hold a decade ago when a devastating flood in Naperville forced the college to turn its attention to its damaged athletic complex instead.

Meiley Swallow Hall

In addition to Wentz Concert Hall, the Fine Arts Center also features the Madden Theatre, which is a 150-seat “black box” experimental theatre that can double as a dance studio and a facility to provide music rehearsal space, practice rooms and offices. The center also houses a spacious lobby, a kitchen facility and the Schoenherr Art Gallery (all supportive of major civic gatherings).[5]

The rededication of Meiley-Swallow Hall, the old Grace Evangelical Church at Ellsworth Street and Van Buren Avenue, was a highlight during the 2007 Homecoming weekend. In 2005, the college embraced the opportunity to preserve a part of Naperville and North Central history by acquiring the former Grace Evangelical Church. The 95-year-old structure was erected by the same denomination that founded North Central College and an addition to the college's art and theatre programs. Special features of this building include nearly 23,000 square feet (2,100 m2) of space, much-needed art display area, a 225-seat thrust stage theatre, and additional office space.


North Central has all-college requirements, which include an intercultural seminar, a leadership, ethics, and values seminar, and a religion and ethics course, which are important components to the integrative curriculum.[6] The college also has opportunities for individual work, such as the Richter Independent Study Grants and the Honors program's Senior Honors Thesis.[6] Students are encouraged to study abroad, with opportunities on five continents from three-week courses to full-time term-long or full-year programs. Its most popular undergraduate majors, based on number out of 545 graduates in 2022, were:[7]


North Central College garnered recognition as a top producer of Fulbright students for 2014-2015.[8] The college is one of five schools in the world recognized with a 2015 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization.[9][10] In the 2007 through 2017 editions of the U.S. News & World Report "Best Colleges Rankings", North Central College is ranked in the top 20 Regional Universities (Midwest) as well as a "Best College for Veterans".[11] Forbes magazine has rated North Central College among the top 20 percent of the nation's colleges and universities, through the 2010-2015 ranking editions.[12]

Arts and media

Carnegie Hall at NCC

North Central College offers majors like Music, Theatre, Musical Theatre and the most recently created, Theatrical Design and Technology. It has four theatre venues, Madden Theatre, Wentz Concert Hall, Meiley Swallow Hall and Pfeiffer Hall. Madden Theatre is a 150-seat, black box theater which hosts college performances and visiting guests, including concerts, cabaret-style revues, theater, film and dance performances.[13]

Wentz Concert Hall has a capacity of 617 spectators, and is home to performances of classical, jazz and contemporary music. The acoustics in Wentz Concert Hall were designed by Talaske Sound Thinking, acoustical consultants for Chicago's critically acclaimed Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. The venue also is ideally suited for recording.[14] Wentz Concert Hall, which was created in honor of alumnus and donor Myron W. Wentz, has hosted a performers like cellist Yo-Yo Ma; Lyric Opera of Chicago soloist Elizabeth Futral; the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; jazz artists Herb Alpert, Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis, Herbie Hancock and Ramsey Lewis; and contemporary artists Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, Colbie Caillat, Los Lonely Boys and Dave Mason.

The hall is the west suburban home of the Chicago Sinfonietta, and the home of the DuPage Symphony Orchestra. It is an incomparable venue to showcase bands, orchestras and choirs of area high schools, as well as the college's multitude of musical ensembles and soloists. The Canadian quintet Canadian Brass, formed by Gene Watts and Charles Daellenbach, is a recurring guest at the hall.

The Pfeiffer Hall is the biggest theatre venue, with a capacity of 1,057 people and a large proscenium stage. When it opened, it was the largest theatre in the western suburbs of Chicago. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Frost and Henry Kissinger, have been guest speakers.[15] This hall also provides classrooms for the music and theatre programs, and faculty offices for North Central's speech communication department.

Third Coast Percussion rehearsing in Wentz Concert Hall on the campus of North Central College

The Meiley-Swallow Hall has a capacity of 239 people and is suitable for intimate theatre productions, panel discussions, presentations and speakers. The theatre is located inside Meiley-Swallow Hall, formerly Grace Evangelical Church and former Central Baptist Church, purchased by North Central College and renovated to house North Central College's fine arts performance, exhibit and curricular programs. It has a partnership with the Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville, and thanks to it, authors like Bill Bryson, Garth Stein and Antonio Sacre have been guest speakers.

The 2000 production of The Pirates of Penzance was selected to perform at Kennedy Center American College Theatre's Region III Festival. Productions of Ken Ludwig's Moon Over Buffalo and Schmidt and Jones' musical Philemon were both chosen to perform at the festival's "Evening of Scenes" in 2004 and 2005. The 2007 production of Thoroughly Modern Millie was selected as a regional finalist from more than 1,300 productions. The 2009 season featured a production of Cats, and in 2010, North Central became one of the first college theaters in the nation to stage a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.[16]


In 2016, the college launched their Brilliant Future campaign, which at the heart lie the construction of the college's new science center.[17] Since the academic year 2014, the college has added new science majors including engineering, neuroscience and various health sciences. North Central's new science building opened in 2017 and was officially named the Dr. Myron Wentz Science Center in October 2017.

Student life

Residential life

There are 12 residence halls at North Central College, eight of which are traditional while four are apartments and suites.

College radio station

North Central College is home to radio station WONC-FM 89.1. It is student-run, and is part of the Department of Communication and Media Studies. The station helps students pursue careers in both on-the-air and behind-the-scenes roles. It airs music and talk shows, traffic reports, coverage and broadcast of sports events, and public service announcements. In 1974, WONC received the Billboard Magazine Radio Station of the Year Award. In March 2015, it won the Best College Radio station award.[18] No other college radio station has garnered more Marconi College Radio Awards than WONC. It was awarded the 2015 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Abraham and Borst Best College Station in the Nation.

NCCLinked/The Chronicle

North Central's student-run campus news site, The Chronicle, regularly covers news about the college, student life, student athletics, and the surrounding Naperville community.


Athletic logo

North Central College's mascot is the Cardinal, in tradition of the bird's habitat in Illinois. The school competes in NCAA Division III and the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW). It sponsors 22 sports and has won 30 team national championships, 26 NCAA and 4 NAIA. North Central athletes have won 115 individual national championships.[19] The total number of national championships puts the college at eighth on the all-time list for most national championships. North Central is the only school in the CCIW to win a national championship in four different sports. Since joining the CCIW, North Central has won 164 conference titles along with 14 CCIW postseason tournament titles.[20]

North Central College was a member of the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1927 to 1937.

The college is best known for its men's track and field and cross country teams, which have won 25 national championships, under the leadership of Coach Al Carius. Carius has been coach since 1966 and was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2006.[21][22] For the 2009-2010 school year, the men's cross country and indoor/outdoor track teams swept the NCAA Division III Championships. North Central is only the second school in Division III history to accomplish this feat.[23] During the 2011-2012 school year, the men's indoor track team repeated again as national champions, and the cross country team repeated as national champions. The campus has also hosted past NCAA Division III national events.

North Central's women's basketball team won the 1983 NCAA Women's Division III Basketball Championship in an 83-71 win over then-defending champions, Elizabethtown College. The men's team reached the Division III Sweet Sixteen in 2012, and the Final Four in 2013.

North Central's football team won the 2019 NCAA championship, and first in program history, with a 41-14 victory against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Following the 2020 Covid-19 season in which no games were played, they finished as National Runner-Up in 2021 after losing the National Championship game to University of Mary Harden-Baylor. In 2022 they reached the National Championship again, where they defeated Mount Union 28-21.

The southern portion of campus which includes many athletic facilities like the stadium and fieldhouse.

Athletic facilities include Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium, which seats 5,500, was completed in 1999. The Jay and Dot Buikema track was resurfaced in 1997 and a Safeplay Plus artificial playing surface was installed in 2011. The stadium has hosted numerous high-profile events, including the Illinois high school boys and girls soccer state finals and the Wes Spencer Crosstown Classic, the annual showdown between Naperville North and Naperville Central high schools. It also served as the temporary home of the Chicago Fire for two seasons while Chicago's Soldier Field was reconstructed. In summer 2009, the stadium hosted an outdoor concert by the band Lifehouse.

North Central College's baseball facility, Zimmerman Stadium, which includes Alumni Field, was dedicated in 1999. The home of Cardinal baseball has permanent seating for 750 fans and a fully enclosed and wireless press box. The facility has hosted the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association summer state tournament and Major League Baseball's RBI World Series and Area Code tryouts.

Cardinal softball plays at Shanower Family Field. In April 2002, the field was dedicated to honor the family of Don Shanower, beloved professor emeritus of speech communication and theatre and enthusiastic softball fan. The dedication took on added meaning after the Shanowers' son Dan, a commander in the U.S. Navy, was among the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The field has hosted an NCAA III regional tournament and was part of Major League Baseball's RBI World Series.

Merner Field House is home to Cardinal indoor sports except track and field, with 2,478 seats in Gregory Arena for the basketball and volleyball teams. On the second floor of Merner Field House is Nichols Gymnasium, home to the North Central College wrestling team. The college's swimming pool is also located in the Field House.

The Residence Hall/Recreation Center opened in the fall of 2009. This combination residential hall and 91,000-square-foot (8,500 m2) recreational center also contains a regulation NCAA 200-meter running track and is home to the Cardinal indoor track team. The Res/Rec Center has won national acclaim due to its environmentally conscious design. The facility, with its innovative geothermal heating and cooling system and other sustainability features, has been awarded LEED Silver Certification.[24]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  2. ^ As of 1 July 2023. "Dr. Anita Thomas named 11th president in 162-year history of North Central College", March 21, 2023, retrieved August 24, 2023
  3. ^ "IPEDS-North Central College".
  4. ^ "The Council of Independent Colleges: Historic Campus Architecture Project". Retrieved 2018-02-03.
  5. ^ "North Central College Madden Theatre". North Central College Fine & Performing Arts.
  6. ^ a b "North Central College Academics". Archived from the original on 2015-12-15. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
  7. ^ "North Central College". U.S. Dept of Education. Retrieved March 3, 2023.
  8. ^ "North Central College Accolades". Chicago Tribune.
  9. ^ "NAFSA Announces 2015 Simon Awards". NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
  10. ^ "International Admission, Study Abroad, and International Student Services | North Central College". Retrieved 2017-06-03.
  11. ^ "Regional Universities Midwest Ranking". U.S. News & World Report Rankings. Archived from the original on 2017-05-19.
  12. ^ "Top Colleges Forbes Ranking". Forbes.
  13. ^ "Madden Theatre".
  14. ^ "Wentz Concert Hall".
  15. ^ "Pfeiffer Hall".
  16. ^ "College among first in nation to present "The Phantom of the Opera"". Archived from the original on 5 November 2010.
  17. ^ "New $60 million science center key to North Central College's future". Daily Herald. 18 May 2015.
  18. ^ "North Central College student radio station named top in the nation". Chicago Tribune.
  19. ^ "North Central College Athletics".
  20. ^ "North Central College Athletics". North Central College.
  21. ^ "North Central College Athletics - 2013 Men's Track and Field Coaching Staff". Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  22. ^ "Al Carius, USTFCCCA Class of 2006 ::: USTFCCCA". Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  23. ^ "North Central College Athletics". North Central College.
  24. ^ "LEED certificiation - North Central College - Naperville, IL". Archived from the original on 2011-11-28. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  25. ^ Abt, Jeffrey (2011). American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226001104. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  26. ^ "PJ Hyett, Co-Founder, COO, GitHub". Retrieved 2022-12-21.
  27. ^ "Alumni of North Central College". North Central College. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  28. ^ "Rall, Joseph E." National Institutes of Health Office of History. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  29. ^ "Broadcasters". Los Angeles Angels. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  30. ^ "Orrin Tucker, Big Band Leader, Dies at 100". New York Times. 20 April 2011. Retrieved June 20, 2021.

41°46′32″N 88°8′34″W / 41.77556°N 88.14278°W / 41.77556; -88.14278