Surrounded by students, staff and alumni, Elmhurst President Emeritus Bryant Cureton and his wife Jeanette were honored on October 9 at a Homecoming weekend ceremony outside the residence hall that now bears their name.
“In a sense, the new name on a building represents a period,” Cureton said during the naming ceremony for Cureton Hall. “It is shorthand for so many people who worked through the years to pursue the mission of the College and, more importantly, help the College fulfill its destiny.”
Cureton called on the community to “look through the name to all the other names that could just as well be there,” and thanked the Board of Trustees and President S. Alan Ray, who was unable to attend as a result of recent surgery.
The ceremony was one of the many events of Homecoming—an activity-packed weekend that included alumni reunion receptions and dinners, seminars, performances, tours and the football game against rival Wheaton College. The football team’s bid to upset 12th-ranked Wheaton College fell just short as the Bluejays were downed by the Thunder 27-24 in front of a crowd of more than 2,600 fans at Langhorst Field.
But the loss didn’t dampen the high spirits of the alumni whose return to campus rekindled happy memories. Wallace Goode ’75, associate dean of students at the University of Chicago, received one of two Alumni Merit awards, along with ’57 graduate Michael Delaney, a longtime music educator. At the Alumni Merit Award breakfast on October 9, Goode described Elmhurst College as a community with a “capital C.”
“This is the kind of place that makes people,” Goode said in an interview. “Elmhurst opened up doors for me that I didn’t know existed.”
The relationships are remembered
Goode was a resident adviser (RA) when he was a student here, as well as a member of Union Board, Black Student Union and Student Government Association. He said the skills he developed through extracurricular activities taught him that there is more that goes into being a student than what goes on in the classroom—a maxim he continues to live by.
“I tell my students now, ‘Don’t let academics get in the way of your education,’” he said.
Joel Herter ’59, a College trustee, said playing varsity basketball was a highlight of his Elmhurst career. In the 1980s, he helped found the Bluejay Backers, a group that raises money and support for Elmhurst College athletics. “Those of us who participated in sports over the years felt we wanted to give back and promote our sports activities,” Herter said. Herter and his wife, also a graduate of the College, live in Elmhurst and have sent two daughters to the school.
For John Gelhaus ’80, it was the relationships he developed at the College that stick out most in his memory. Returning to campus, Gelhaus got to hang out with his college roommate, who he still speaks with but sees mostly during reunion weekends. It was a dual experience of the past and future.
Gelhaus, who majored in psychology, marveled at the changes at the College in the 30 years since his graduation—buildings that have sprouted, a much larger student body and a roster of graduate programs. “There’s more of a lot of things,” he said with a laugh. “But I think there’s a whole lot of care that’s gone into those changes.”
Some things don’t change, though. As Gail Bacci ’96 made her way through a crowd at Langhorst Field before the start of the game, she said the campus itself was part of what made her experience at Elmhurst so rewarding. “The trees are so beautiful,” Bacci said. “It’s unusual for a campus to be an arboretum [as Elmhurst is].”
Dr. Jeanette Cureton, recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2008 (Bryant Cureton also received an honorary degree at the same time), summed up the experience in her remarks at the dedication ceremony: “It is wonderful to be home again,” she said.