Join us as we document Troy VanAken’s first 100 days as president of Elmhurst College through photos and stories.
By The Office of Communications and Public Affairs
October 18, 2016
White Coat Celebration
More than 80 nursing students received white coats and a warm welcome to the professional part of their training during the College’s inaugural white coat ceremony on Tuesday evening. Several hundred family members and friends attended the ceremony, held in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel. “Nursing is hard work, but it’s very rewarding work,” President VanAken said to the students. “This ceremony is a wonderful way to welcome students to this honorable profession.”
October 11, 2016
President VanAken and his wife, Dr. Annette VanAken, were the featured guests on the cable TV program Elmhurst NOW!, a television program featuring current events and topics of interest to Elmhurst residents. During the taping of the show, the VanAkens talked about how they came to Elmhurst College, how much they enjoy belonging to both the College and local communities, and what they hope to accomplish here. The show will air throughout November on Comcast channel 6 or U-Verse channel 99.
October 7-9, 2016
Thousands of alumni, family members and friends came to campus for Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, where they celebrated class reunions, cheered on the Bluejay football team (which won 45-34 over Carroll University) and recognized the winners of the Alumni and Faculty Merit Awards. President VanAken also announced a $100,000 challenge match, issued by leadership donors of the College. As part of the challenge, all gifts to the Elmhurst College Scholarship Fund between now and December 31 will be matched dollar for dollar (up to $100,000).
September 8, 2016
The College’s student-athletes came together to begin the academic year with a nondenominational worship service. Led by Chaplain Scott Matheney, the service also featured remarks by Intercollegiate Athletics Director Paul Krohn, President Troy VanAken and others.
President VanAken reminded the students of their responsibility as campus leaders to set an example and encouraged them to strive to reach their full potential in everything they do. “Your legacy is not just what you do but also who you influence,” he said.
September 1, 2016
A Taste of Elmhurst
Hundreds of students turned out for a Taste of Elmhurst, an activity fair designed to introduce students to campus life. Representatives of 60-plus campus organizations and dozens of local businesses and organizations were on hand to tell students about opportunities to get involved.
One of the biggest draws was a petting zoo, which featured a chinchilla, a goat, several kinds of birds and an albino Burmese python. President VanAken even let the python hang around his neck—briefly.
“The activity fair is a great opportunity for students,” said senior Jerelyn Lee as she cuddled a fluffy, lop-eared rabbit. “You can look at a list of clubs and organizations online, but you can’t talk with anyone from them, while here you can. Plus you can learn about job and internship opportunities. It’s a great experience.”
August 24, 2016
A Welcome to New Students
Nearly 500 young women and men arrived on campus on August 24 to begin their journey as Elmhurst College students. The day got off to an early start with the Big Move-In, as many first-years unloaded their clothes and coffeemakers, met their roommates and, after lunch, watched their parents drive away.
At the New Student Convocation that afternoon, President VanAken officially welcomed students to the Elmhurst family, but not before snapping this photo from the stage in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel.
During his remarks, he noted the “wealth of experiences and talents” in this first-year class, including ambitious entrepreneurs, a novelist, accomplished thespians, 177 intercollegiate athletes and “the fastest sandwich maker in the Subway where she worked.”
President VanAken urged the new students to take advantage of every moment of their time at Elmhurst, and to know that “all of us here—the faculty, the staff, the chaplain and deans, mentors and advisors—will be here for you throughout your journey, to help you reach your full potential.
“We look forward to getting to know you all, and to sharing our wonderful college with you.”
August 18, 2016
Back Into History
Dr. VanAken joined more than 30 Orientation Student Leaders to take part in a longtime student leadership tradition—signing their names on the dark walls inside the Old Main clock tower.
Signatures on the clock tower walls date all the way back to 1899. Each year, student leaders and others add their names for posterity.
Michael Petillo, a junior majoring in marketing and minoring in music production, described the experience as “like being in a time machine, walking back into history.”
“It was really cool to see all those names,” he said. “For me to be with the other OSLs who went through this experience, and for us all to be together to add our names, was a huge honor.”
July 29, 2016
The Art of Research
Elmhurst students and faculty have been hard at work all summer on a wide variety of scholarly projects. Today, they had a chance to present their work at a summer research luncheon at the A.C. Buehler Library Café.
Students described a wide range of projects, from graphing the growth of tissues and tumors to conducting a histiography of fashion history to measuring the health benefits of Himalayan sea salt.
President VanAken attended the event, telling the student researchers, “You got the chance to do some original research. This is something that's going to stick with you for the rest of your life, so savor this moment. All of the original work you’re doing—all of these contributions—will add up to something substantial and amazing.”
July 22, 2016
A Cycling Classic
Hundreds of professional and amateur cyclists from across the country and around the world gathered in Elmhurst on July 22 to compete in the 4th Annual Superior Ambulance Elmhurst Cycling Classic. President VanAken and his wife, Annette, stopped by the event, which encircled the Elmhurst College campus, and were officially introduced to the crowd. President VanAken thanked everyone for the warm welcome he and Annette have received on campus and from the community, calling Elmhurst “a truly special place.”
July 15, 2016
President’s BBQ & Preview Day
President VanAken and his wife, Annette, welcomed 128 new and prospective students and their guests to campus for the inaugural President’s BBQ & Preview Day. Students and families gathered at the Frick Center for an information session, a campus tour, a BBQ lunch, a beanbag toss and a giant game of Jenga. For students and their families, it was a great opportunity to meet faculty and staff, learn more about the College and enjoy a tasty lunch on a gorgeous summer day. Even Victor E. Bluejay made an appearance!
July 13, 2016
Digging for Fossils
President VanAken stopped by Associate Professor Merrilee Guenther’s biology lab, where students Abbey Banas and Katie Tiffany are sorting through sediment from North Dakota in search of small fossil specimens from 38 million years ago. So far, the students have found mammal teeth, plant material and snail shells—all of which will help them reconstruct the flora and fauna of the excavation site.
The Elmhurst effort is part of a broader project based in North Dakota, where paleontologists are working on large body fossils found at the site.
Guenther noted that Elmhurst students have unusual access to research experiences, giving them a head start in the job market or graduate school. “They’re not going to get opportunities like this at bigger public schools,” she pointed out.
July 12, 2016 A Visit to the Sim Lab
A visit to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital gave President VanAken a chance to tour the College’s Simulation Center and see a nursing class in action. During the class, students practiced their nursing skills on each other and on the Center’s life-size, robotic manikins—interviewing “patients,” taking blood pressure, listening to heart sounds and more.
The Simulation Center, a 4,600-square-foot facility representing a variety of health care environments, allows students to practice protocols and procedures safely and without the risk of harm to patients. “The Sim Lab was a big deciding factor in why I chose to come to Elmhurst College,” said Angela Gasbarre ’18. “It sets Elmhurst apart from other schools.”
July 11, 2016 An Introduction to Research
A recent visit to Elmhurst’s chemistry labs gave President VanAken a chance to meet professors Colleen Munro-Leighton and Ami Johanson, along with four of their summer research students. The students are conducting research into the effectiveness and cleaning properties of various detergents and enzymes, with the goal of presenting their findings at a research conference toward the end of the summer.
“It’s been interesting, because I’ve been able to get hands-on experience,” said Michael Beusse ’19. “When you’re taking a class, you get a piece of paper with instructions, and you do what it says. But here, you’re creating your own methods.”
July 8, 2016 President Troy VanAken's First 100 Days
President VanAken began his term as Elmhurst College president on July 1, and he’s hit the ground running! His calendar is packed as he meets with students, engages in campus events, and gets to know the Elmhurst community. Follow along as we document the #first100days of his presidency here and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.