Elmhurst College is set to become Elmhurst University

  • After being known as Elmhurst College for 96 years, the school is set to become Elmhurst University on Wednesday, July 1.

    After being known as Elmhurst College for 96 years, the school is set to become Elmhurst University on Wednesday, July 1. Daily Herald file photo

Updated 6/25/2020 7:43 PM

Elmhurst College is poised to start its next chapter with a new name.

The 149-year-old private college officially will become Elmhurst University on Wednesday and celebrate the occasion with virtual events.


It's a day school officials have been anticipating for more than a year since the college board of trustees approved the name change on June 15, 2019.

"We're excited about what this will do," President Troy VanAken said Thursday. "It will open up some new possibilities for us in terms of individuals being aware of what we have become."

Founded in 1871, the school originally was named Elmhurst Proseminary and prepared young men for theological seminary and trained teachers for parochial schools, according to its website. The school took on the name Elmhurst College in 1924 when it became a four-year college for men. Women first enrolled in 1930.

Putting "university" in the name, officials say, will more accurately reflect the school's current profile as a comprehensive higher education institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts and applied sciences.

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"Our graduate programs have been growing over the past 20 years," VanAken said, "and we're looking at adding some doctoral programs."

Elmhurst offers more than 60 undergraduate programs, as well as 20 master's degree and graduate certificate programs. Last fall, it had an enrollment of 3,500, including 562 graduate students.

Being called a university, VanAken said, "is a representation of who are."

"This will distinguish us in terms of the brand that we want to represent," VanAken said. "We're a bachelor's and a graduate degree-granting institution."

Officials said the name change will enhance the school's recruitment efforts, especially among international students, because university status is more widely understood.


"The word 'college' in international circles oftentimes means high school or technical school," VanAken said.

In addition to helping recruitment, officials also believe it will help Elmhurst graduates when they're looking for jobs.

Even with the name change, the atmosphere at the school won't change.

"It reflects that we have a breadth of programs at the undergraduate and graduate level," VanAken said. "But certainly the quality of programs are still going to be small and intimate."

He said all classes will continue to be taught by faculty members -- not graduate assistants or teaching assistants.

The new name will adorn school stationary, signs and its website beginning Wednesday.

Also on that day, the school will release a celebration video that captures the unveiling of the new Elmhurst University arch over the Gates of Knowledge at 190 S. Prospect Ave., the main entrance to campus. The video will be released at 11 a.m. on the institution's Facebook and YouTube channels.

In addition, VanAken will host an online celebration for the campus community.

Visit elmhurst.edu for more details.

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