Elmhurst College Will Become Elmhurst University in 2020

June 18, 2019 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Elmhurst College Will Become Elmhurst University in 2020

Building on nearly 150 years of preparing students for successful careers and lives, Elmhurst College will change its name to Elmhurst University, effective June 30, 2020.

“At this pivotal time in our history, less than two years away from our 150th anniversary in 2021, the decision to change our name to Elmhurst University marks the exciting start of the next chapter of our story,” said Elmhurst College President Troy D. VanAken. “While this is certainly a new and significant development, it is the result of an ongoing, collaborative process. It reflects discussions that have been taking place for some time regarding how we should celebrate who we are, what we have become, and what we need to be in order to best serve our students for generations to come.”

The Elmhurst College Board of Trustees approved the new name on June 15. Although the official name will change, Elmhurst’s identity, core values, and emphasis on liberal arts education and real-world, professional preparation, will remain the same.

More than 1,000 students graduated from Elmhurst in 2019.

More than 1,000 students graduated from Elmhurst in 2019.

The university name more accurately reflects Elmhurst’s current educational profile as a comprehensive higher education institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts and applied sciences, while anticipating opportunities for new programs and partnerships. The change comes at a time when the College has seen record enrollments and fundraising in the past couple of years.

The name change also honors the 1925 vision of H. Richard Niebuhr, Elmhurst College’s sixth president, of an “ever-widening circle” of opportunity for the College to reach an ever-widening circle of diverse students with multiple interests and needs.

“A change in name will not alter our commitment to outstanding teaching, personal education and the fostering of an inclusive and supportive campus learning community that promotes social justice. These characteristics are central to how we promote academic excellence and achievement, and responsible citizenship,” said Ed Momkus, chair of the Board of Trustees and an alumnus from the Class of 1974.

“As one of more than 36,000 proud alumni, I believe in and treasure my Elmhurst education and the underlying values that support it,” he said. “The tenets that have defined and distinguished us for nearly one and a half centuries will not change—they form the foundation upon which we will continue to build and grow.”

Students in the Master of Occupational Therapy program.

The Master of Occupational Therapy program is just one of the many graduate programs offered at Elmhurst.

Elmhurst College currently offers more than 60 undergraduate programs of study, as well as 20 master’s degree and graduate certificate programs. Because of the strength and breadth of its academic programs, Elmhurst already is categorized as a university by external entities, including U.S. News & World Report.

The name change will enhance Elmhurst’s recruitment efforts across all audiences and especially among international, graduate and non-traditional students because university status is more widely understood by those groups. It will reduce misconceptions some prospective employers may have. It also will pave the way for expanded academic and partnership opportunities for both faculty and students, as well as greater opportunities for participation in international and other off-campus programs.

The name-change idea has been raised periodically over the past several years. It was formally reintroduced in 2016, when President VanAken initiated a strategic planning process for the campus community in preparation for Elmhurst’s sesquicentennial anniversary.

Over the past year, a robust dialogue took place among campus stakeholders, including faculty, staff and students; and with the larger Elmhurst community, including the Board of Trustees and the Alumni Association Board of Directors. The collected input informed the administration’s ultimate recommendation to change Elmhurst College’s name. The recommendation then was deliberated and endorsed by campus governance groups before going to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

The College’s Advisory Committee for Strategic Planning, which includes membership from the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni, will be asked to lead the transition effort. The committee will work with other campus stakeholders to ensure that all have the opportunity to participate in the planning and implementation of this historic initiative.

Troy VanAken

Our story, which began in 1871 with 14 students and now describes a comprehensive institution that educates 3,400 undergraduate and graduate students, is one of growth and change.

President Troy D. VanAken

“Changing from college to university will now become part of that story,” President VanAken said. “But the most important part has always been the transformative impact of an Elmhurst education on the lives of our students. No matter what we call ourselves, that will always be the heart of our story.”

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Media Inquiries

Please contact Desiree Chen, senior director, communications and external relations, at chend@elmhurst.edu or (630) 617-3033.

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