Dr. Ivan E. Frick, the 11th president of Elmhurst College, passed away at the age of 90 on Saturday, August 25, in Lancaster, Pa.
Dr. Frick, with his wife, Ruth, served the College from 1971 until 1994 and is remembered for continuing the College’s excellent academic reputation, restoring its financial equilibrium, and building a strong sense of campus community.
Early in his career as president of Elmhurst College, Dr. Frick successfully led the College through financial challenges that struck much of higher education at the time. Under his watch, the College would achieve 22 years of balanced budgets; and when he left office in 1994, the endowment stood at $35 million, having grown 46-fold.
“Ivan Frick was such a conscientious steward for the College,” said current President Troy D. VanAken. “I especially respect his dedication to being a good fiduciary—his long record of balanced budgets, how he built the endowment, his attention to fundraising, and that he kept debt levels low so that future generations wouldn’t be burdened—his approach has set a strong example for me.
“Ivan and Ruth Frick helped to secure the College’s future and enhance our community, and we will always be grateful.”
Denise Jones, who was controller toward the end of Dr. Frick’s presidency, said that a key to his success was his ability to unite the campus. “He put together a team and, together with the campus and trustees, was able to overcome the financial difficulties the College had when he started,” she said. “He left the College in a very good financial situation because everybody was working in the same direction.”
President Frick’s tenure saw significant advances in the College’s academic program, including the establishment of the Center for Business and Economics, a Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, and increased offerings for adult learners.
The Frick years also were a time of unparalleled fundraising success, which led to numerous capital improvements. During a period when many other college campuses suffered from disrepair, Elmhurst constructed two new buildings—the Physical Education Center in 1983 (later renamed R.A. Faganel Hall) and the Computer Science and Technology Center in 1988 (later renamed Daniels Hall)—and renovated Old Main, Irion Hall, Goebel Hall, Lehmann Hall, the A.J. Schaible Science Center, A.C. Buehler Library and Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel.
Professor Eugene Losey, who has taught chemistry and biochemistry at Elmhurst since 1977, fondly recalls a day when President Frick walked up to him in church—both attended St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Elmhurst—and in a rare moment, considering his surroundings, wanted to talk a little business. “We’re going to be getting some money,” Dr. Frick said with a smile. “Can you think of a way to spend it?” Several labs in the Schaible Science Center soon were renovated.
He and Ruth Frick, his wife of more than 64 years, were a formidable team who fostered a strong sense of community on campus, as well as off. She passed away in 2015.
Professor Losey remembers feeling welcomed from the start, and looked forward to the annual opening reception in the library each fall, and the annual Christmas party at the president’s home. “Many people will tell you that they stay at Elmhurst College because of the people,” he said. “You really felt like you belonged.”
Upon the Fricks’ retirement, the student union was renamed the Frick Center in honor of their leadership.
Before coming to Elmhurst, Ivan Frick was president of Findlay College in Findlay, Ohio, from 1964-1971. A native of New Providence, Pa., he graduated from Findlay College in 1949, earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1959, and held theological degrees from Lancaster Theological Seminary and the Graduate School of Theology at Oberlin College.
Dr. Frick is survived by two sons, David and Daniel (Tamara Goeglein); his daughter, Susan (Ronald Searl); a sister, two brothers and five granddaughters.
In honor of Elmhurst College’s 11th president, the College flew its flags at half-staff for 11 days. Two celebration of life memorial services will be held: The first will take place in Lancaster, Pa., on Saturday, September 15, at 2:00 p.m. in Lancaster Theological Seminary, Santee Chapel, 555 W. James St. The second will be held in Elmhurst on Saturday, October 13, at 11:00 a.m. in St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, 125 W. Church St. Private interment will take place at Elmhurst College Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Frick Endowed Book Fund of Elmhurst College. Please visit elmhurst.edu/give and, under “Area of Support,” select “Frick Endowed Book Fund.” You also may make your gift by calling the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at (630) 617-3600. Gifts also may be mailed to: Elmhurst College, Attn: Office of Development, 190 S. Prospect Ave., Elmhurst, IL 60126. Checks should be made payable to Elmhurst College, and should specify Frick Endowed Book Fund in the memo line.
Dr. Frick’s memorial page may be found at TheGroffs.com.