Associated Colleges of Illinois

ACI News

ACI welcomes Wheaton College, elects new leaders, OKs new mission statement
May 31, 2017

The ACI Board of Trustees met April 28 in Chicago. Among them were President Troy Hammond, center, North Central College, Naperville, and left, President John Comerford, Blackburn College, Carlinville.

The board of trustees of Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) approved Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, as an ACI member, effective June 1. The board took the action at its annual meeting this spring at the University Club of Chicago. Wheaton College becomes ACI’s 24th member college or university.

ACI, now in its 65th year, is a nonprofit organization serving private, independent higher education in Illinois, including more than 60,000 students. Its board, consisting of presidents of member colleges and universities, plus 30 corporate members, also approved organizational leaders, a new mission statement, plus a three-year strategic plan and business plan for the fiscal year beginning June 1.

Wheaton College is a Christian liberal arts college and graduate school noted for its rigorous academics, integration of faith and learning, and consistent ranking among the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Since its founding in 1860, Wheaton has been guided by its original mission to provide excellence in Christian higher education. The College offers more than 40 undergraduate degrees and 16 graduate degrees, as well as a diverse range of co-curricular activities that develop students “For Christ and His Kingdom.”

Board elects leaders

President Barbara A. Farley, left, Illinois College, Jacksonville, was reelected president of the ACI. Frank D. Cella, center, Marsh, Chicago, was elected to a two-year term as chair of the board of trustees. With them is Mick Weltman, ACI executive director.

Board members elected Frank D. Cella of Marsh, Chicago, as chair, succeeding James S. Wylie, also of Marsh, who concluded a two-year term. Cella said he was honored to be elected to the post, and noted he has devoted most of his professional career to higher education. President Barbara A. Farley of Illinois College, Jacksonville, was elected to a second two-year term as ACI president, and Clifton L. Fenton, Chicago, was re-elected secretary/treasurer. They join Mick Weltman, ACI executive director, who has been in the role since 2014.

President Jamel SC Wright of Eureka College, Eureka, Illinois, was elected to the executive committee, succeeding President David L. Parkyn of North Park University, Chicago, who retired. She joins President John L. Comerford of Blackburn College, Carlinville, and Chipo Nyambuya, Virgil LLC, as a member-at-large. The board also re-elected committee chairs, including Bill Powell, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Advancement; Fenton, Audit/Investment; Lyn Bulman, Fellowes, Inc., Programs, and Jerry Murphy, St. Charles, Trusteeship.

Board members approved three new corporate board members. They are Angela T. Allen, Washington, Pittman & McKeever, LLC, Chicago; Patrick H. Dominick, U.S. Trust, Bank of America, Chicago; and Simon Reeves, PNC Capital Advisors, LLC, Chicago.

New mission statement, plans and budget OK’d

ACI’s new mission statement was approved by the board, replacing a temporary mission statement approved in 2016. The new statement says, “Associated Colleges of Illinois helps member colleges and universities advance independent liberal arts and sciences education and supports underserved students to succeed in college, career and life.”

A three-year strategic plan was approved by board members, which focuses on fundraising, returns to members and students through scholarships, peer mentoring for students at nearly half of its member colleges and universities, professional development conferences and communications.

Also approved were a $1.6 million budget and business plan for the new fiscal year. The plan focuses on services to members through scholarships and peer mentoring for qualified students, conferences for professional staff, building and enhancing relationships with corporations and foundations, and greater public visibility. New initiatives include a wealth advisors breakfast program to help foster financial giving to ACI and a career fair to build relationships with Illinois employers for the benefit of students at ACI-affiliated colleges and universities.

The board honored retiring North Park University President Parkyn, and Robert A. Gervasi, president of Quincy University, Quincy. Gervasi, a former ACI president, left Quincy to become president of Ohio Dominican University, Columbus.

ACI 65th Anniversary Reception Focuses on Scholars, Independent Higher Education
May 2, 2017

More than 200 people attended the ACI 65th Anniversary Benefit Reception April 21 at the University Club of Chicago.

More than 200 people representing Illinois higher education, corporations and foundations, plus several individual supporters, attended the Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) 65th Anniversary Benefit Reception April 21.

The event at the University Club of Chicago was a celebration of independent, private higher education in Illinois while generating financial support for ACI’s scholarship program, and its Peer Mentoring Program, now available at seven ACI member campuses. Both programs support underserved students at ACI’s 24 member colleges and universities.

“I strongly believe the best way we can make incremental improvement in our communities is by making a high-quality, liberal arts education accessible and affordable to first-generation, minority and low-income students,” said James S. Wylie, chair, ACI Board of Trustees, in his remarks. “What we’re doing is to help build the critical resources needed to make our mission a reality for the nearly 60,000 students at our member colleges.”

ACI President Barbara A. Farley

Dr. Barbara A. Farley, president of Illinois College, Jacksonville, and ACI president, expressed appreciation on behalf of ACI’s member presidents and institutions. “I would like to thank you for your enduring support for the students attending and graduating from our colleges and universities.  These students need your support more than ever, so they can go on to do great things in their professional careers, their personal lives, their communities and the world,” she said.

CIC president comments on three dimensions of higher education

Dr., Richard Ekman, president of The Council of Independent Colleges, Washington, said in his keynote remarks that supporting private higher education is critical for America’s future and society’s needs. He commented on independent higher education access, success and affordability.

CIC President Richard Ekman

On access, he said a higher percentage of low-income first-generation students attend private versus public colleges. “We are in the private college sector, the places of opportunity, the places where people get a chance to make it and begin their path to upward mobility,” Ekman said. On success, he commented that graduation rates in private colleges are better than graduation rates in other higher education sectors. Private college graduates are active in their communities, vote regularly and give generously, he said.

Finally, he said private colleges are more affordable than many people believe. “The reason why it’s entirely affordable is because of the commitment of our colleges and universities and people like you in this room,” Ekman said. “Scholarships … make it possible for our students to succeed.”

Chicago Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion Ensemble performed at the ACI Benefit Reception.

Sponsors of the ACI 65th Anniversary Reception were Aon, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., and UPS.

Founded in 1952, ACI consisted of 22 charter member schools, many of whom are still affiliated with the organization. Since then, it has awarded more than $70 million in scholarships to Illinois students, with the help of corporations, foundations and individuals donors. Today, it serves nearly 60,000 students in 24 Illinois colleges and universities

Higher Education Headlines

Benefits of Liberal Arts Education

Archived stories


May 2: ACI Benefit Reception Testimonials Emphasize Opportunity for Underserved Students
March 28: ACI, Call One Announce New Scholarship for Science, Technology or Business Majors
March 17: ACI Spring Professional Development Conferences Set
Feb. 17: A Liberal Arts Education Prepares Students Well, Benefits Society, Says College President
Feb. 7: ACI Welcomes Bradley Mease of Baker Tilly as Corporate Trustee
Feb. 1: ACI to Host 65th Anniversary Benefit Reception April 21 in Chicago
Jan. 20: Illinois College Presidents Connect Liberal Arts Education and Student Success
Jan. 16: ACI Welcomes Leslie Sawyer as Corporate Trustee


Dec. 14: ACI Publishes 2015-2016 Annual Report
Dec. 14: ACI Welcomes Two New Board of Trustees Members
Nov. 2: ACI Welcomes Six New Board of Trustees Members
Oct. 7: Consider Creating an ACI Named Scholarship
Sept. 9: ACI 2016 Fall Conferences Set
Sept. 9: Olivet Nazarene Named Proud Partner of the Chicago Bears
Aug. 31: Monmouth College Makes Major Jump in ‘Washington Monthly College Guide’
Aug. 29: North Central College is National Partner in the Billion Dollar Green Challenge
Aug. 24: ACI Welcomes Three New Board of Trustees Members
Aug. 24: ACI to Distribute UPS Scholarship Funds to Illinois Students
Aug. 10: Remembering Deborah M. Sawyer
Aug.9: Millikin University Department of Theatre and Dance becomes School of Theatre and Dance
Aug. 8: ACI and North Central College announce transition of Center for Success in High-Need Schools

Archived stories, cont’d

Aug. 5: Lewis University College Success Program Receives $45,000 AT&T Contribution
Aug. 5: From ACI-member North Central College: Democracy through the eyes of students
July 6: Peer Mentoring Program expands to seven campuses for 2016-17
July 1: ACI welcomes four new college and university presidents
May 27: North Central College agrees to acquire Shimer College
May 9: Laura Ortega-Lamela Appointed to ACI Board of Trustees
May 6: ACI Scholar Katherine King, Concordia University Chicago
April 27: ACI Scholar Paris Edwards, Augustana College
April 14: Welcome new board members!
April 6: ACI Welcomes Sikich LLP as a New Corporate Partner
April 6: Northwest Comprehensive Continues its ACI Corporate Partnership
March 16: ACI April 29 Reception to Recognize Scholarship Recipients, Peer Mentoring, Retiring Presidents
Feb. 25: ACI offers Conservation Careers internships for this summer
Feb. 23: Rockford University appoints Dr. Eric Fulcomer as president
Feb. 18: Elmhurst College names Dr. Troy VanAken president
Feb. 12: Greenville College tops list of state’s best online colleges and universities; 6 other ACI schools also ranked
Feb.9: Dr. David Livingston named 10th president of Lewis University
Feb. 4: Three ACI member schools cited for lowering tuition costs
Jan.7: ACI’s 2016 spring conferences set


Dec.15: Consider ACI for year-end, tax-deductible giving
Nov. 18: ACI’s Project LEAD Summit explores teacher diversity and support
Nov. 6: ACI awarded challenge grant for peer mentoring at member colleges


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