‘I See a Bright Future’

Storyteller and campus history buff Mark Wakely ’87 reflects on 40-plus years at Elmhurst.

Mark Wakely, Services Manager at Elmhurst University, in front of the Old Main building on campus.

Editor’s note: Mark Wakely retired in January 2023. We thank Mark for his extraordinary contributions to our campus.

As a special way to mark our sesquicentennial celebration, we asked some of our students, faculty, staff and alumni to share their fondest Elmhurst memories, favorite campus stories and hopes for the future of the University. Read along as we roll out the entire series over the coming months.

Mark Wakely ’87 has stories to tell. With 41 years of experience on staff and another four years as a student, Wakely has earned the unofficial title of campus historian and tour guide. Officially, he’s the Elmhurst University Services Manager of 34 years and an award-winning science-fiction author.

As services manager, Wakely and his teams ensure all the Facilities Management services offered to students, faculty and staff are carried out and “everything runs smoothly.” In addition to his daily responsibilities, Wakely leads “Behind the Scenes” tours for prospective students and their parents.

“We go places that normally are not open to the public, and I tell a bit of a history along the way,” says Wakely, who earned a bachelor’s in English. “We want to knock their socks off.”

What do you remember about your first day at Elmhurst?

I started Sept. 22, 1980. There was a bit of a snafu. I came in and no one had told my supervisor I was starting that day. He was totally unprepared to see me. I ended up working just half a day. I remember that vividly.

What were your first impressions of the campus?

Compared to what it looks like now, it was a little rough around the edges. Bruce Mather, the former director of facilities management, had only been in his role about six months. He was just starting to turn things around.

What do you wish everyone knew about Elmhurst?

The knowledge and quality of our faculty is second to none. They’re remarkably knowledgeable, skilled, and I can’t think of a better place to get an education.

What do you see for the future of Elmhurst?

I see a bright future. I can see the need for additional student housing eventually. There are always going to be students who want that university experience of living on campus.

Posted June 7, 2021

I can’t think of a better place to get an education.

Mark Wakely Services Manager, Unofficial Campus Historian

Pieces of History

The Elmhurst Proseminary officially took on the name Elmhurst College in 1924, and then Elmhurst University in 2020.

Our History