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Monmouth College’s top stories and photos of 2017

It was another busy year at Monmouth College, with news highlights ranging from the traditional (Commencement and Homecoming) to the historic (the largest gift to the College, and the debuts of Scots Day of Giving and Lux Summer Theological Institute for Youth). Here’s a look back at those top stories from 2017, as well as the top images.

Top stories of 2017

  • Wallace Hall

    Historic gift

    Monmouth College received a $20 million commitment, the largest in the history of the College, and one of the largest gifts ever to an Illinois liberal arts college. Made anonymously, the commitment includes $15 million over the near term and a $5 million deferred gift. Both amounts will be used to expand the College’s endowment, which stood at about $100 million at the time of the gift. “The donors are longtime supporters of Monmouth College, and they are passionate about this College because they know the difference it makes in young people’s lives,” said President Clarence R. Wyatt.

  • Unveiling the renovation sign

    Grier Hall renovation

    One of Monmouth College’s iconic residence halls will receive a makeover. Grier Hall will be closed at the end of the fall semester so that it can undergo a “top-to-bottom upgrade” that will accommodate students’ evolving living-learning needs. The 24,000-square-foot, three-story residence hall – which can house up to 100 students – will be closed for about one year during the renovation. Students living in the 77-year-old building will be housed in the College’s other residence halls during the renovation.

  • Mark Kopinski and Ralph r. Velazquez, Jr.

    Change at the top

    In April, Mark Kopinski (left) was elected chairman of the Monmouth College Board of Trustees. A 1979 Monmouth graduate, Kopinski succeeded William Goldsborough ’65, who chaired the board for five years. A retired chief investment officer with American Century Investment Management, Kopinski has served as a trustee since 2004 and on the executive committee since 2006. Serving alongside Kopinski as vice chairman is Dr. Ralph R. Velazquez Jr. Also a 1979 Monmouth graduate, Velazquez is senior vice president at OSF HealthCare Systems of Peoria, Ill.

  • John Osterlund and Laura Hutchinson

    New vice presidents

    Laura Hutchinson was named vice president for student life, and John Osterlund was named vice president for development and college relations. Hutchinson, who has worked in student life for more than 25 years, was most recently vice president for student life at Earlham (Ind.) College. Osterlund was most recently the chief development officer for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Before that, he was chief development officer for the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, where he helped complete a $200 million campaign for polio eradication.

  • Celebration at the conclusion of the Scots Day of Giving

    Scots Day of Giving

    The U.S. map was covered in Monmouth College tartan on April 18 as 533 alumni and friends joined together to give $168,392 to the College. Dubbed Scots Day of Giving to commemorate the College’s founding on April 18, 1853, the event attracted contributions from all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and several foreign countries. The money raised was used to support scholarships and financial aid, along with special cocurricular initiatives and programs. It was the most one-day donations the College has received.

  • Professor Eric Engstrom leads a session for the Lux Institute.

    Summer of Lux

    Seventeen high school students from seven states attended the first Lux Summer Theological Institute for Youth, a two-week program funded by a gift from Lilly Endowment. “The students learned deeply and thought deeply,” said the Rev. Jessica Hawkinson, Monmouth’s associate chaplain and the institute’s director. “They developed leadership skills, spiritual life skills, meditation skills. They really grew to love one another, and they were really sad to leave. They left enriched and able to contribute to their church and community in a profound way. I couldn’t have expected the program to turn out any better.”

  • Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter on the front lawn of their new house

    New house for Kappas

    On a gorgeous April afternoon, with current Kappa Kappa Gamma members in bright blue dresses lining the sidewalk and the organization’s national president in attendance, the Kappa Kappa Gamma Alpha Chapter House at 915 E. Broadway was formally dedicated, giving the women’s fraternity a new home to call its own. “It’s a wonderful day,” said Karen Barrett Chism ’65.”I want to thank all the sisters who had the dream of a house for Kappa Kappa Gamma. They made it a reality. … It’s a perfect location. Everything came together. This has been many years in the making.”

  • Graduates show off their regalia


    The Class of 2017 was told at Monmouth College’s 160th Commencement Exercises that their stories matter. “We are wired as humans to be storytellers,” graduating senior Emma Vanderpool said in the student address. “Our task is to be the crafters of our own stories.” A total of 285 bachelor of arts degrees were conferred. In his address, PBS executive Juan Sepúlveda drew on his story of being a first-generation college student to illustrate four main points: where one comes from matters, not letting others define you matters, learning the rules of the game matter and relationships matter.

  • Fireworks light up the sky at the Spirit Shout


    The official theme of “Traditions” was very much on display, as traditional activities such as the Spirit Shout, Homecoming parade, award ceremonies and a big Fighting Scots football game (a 52-10 Bronze Turkey victory over Knox College) were once again part of the festivities. An unofficial theme was “The Gift of Presence,” as a record number of alumni returned to campus to rekindle memories of a meaningful time in their lives and express gratitude to Monmouth faculty and staff who helped in their journey.

  • Fighting Scots football Midwest Conference champions

    Football championship

    The Fighting Scots capped a 9-1 regular season with a thrilling 9-6 overtime win over St. Norbert College in the Midwest Conference championship game. The victory earned the Scots their second consecutive NCAA tournament berth. In the playoffs, Monmouth put up a strong first-half fight against undefeated Trine (Ind.) University before falling 63-24. Throughout the regular season, the Scots were ranked in the top 10 nationally in several defensive categories. Offensively, quarterback Hayden Nelson, 1,000-yard rusher DeAndre Wright and leading receiver Yansay Williams will all return in 2018.

Top photos of 2017

  • Penny creates omelets with a smile.

    Penny the Omelet Lady

    “I love serving the students,” said Penny McVey, who received a prestigious Ring of Stars Award, which is presented by the Aramark Corp., the company that runs Monmouth’s food services. “If they come through the line and they are having a bad day, they can express that to me. All of these students are just like my grandkids.”

  • The Wallace Hall cupola viewed through a maple leaf.

    Bird’s eye view

    Through rose-colored glasses, rose-colored leaves or any which way you choose, Wallace Hall’s trademark cupola always looks good.

  • Kunal Kapoor '97 on the cover of Barron's.

    Cover story

    Just days after delivering the annual Whiteman Lecture at his alma mater, Kunal Kapoor ’97 was on the cover of Barron’s, the world’s premier investing publication.

  • Blums walk near Quinby House.

    Quinby House turns 150

    Emeritus art professor Harlow Blum and his wife, Lila Blum ’61, were among the many special guests during Homecoming weekend who attended the 150th anniversary celebration of Quinby House, Monmouth’s presidential residence.

  • Home Sweet Home mat on the Wallace Hall plaza.

    Welcome back

    It’s not clear how many of the record number of alumni returning to campus for this year’s Homecoming used the main entrance along Wallace Hall’s sidewalk but, if they did, they knew they were “home.”

  • Ralph Whiteman holds his "Best Class Secretary" shirt.

    An item for the next Class of ’52 Newsletter

    Not only did Ralph Whiteman receive a casual – but very well-deserved – honor at his 65th class reunion during the Golden Scots Celebration, but he was also inducted into the College’s Fraternity and Sorority Alumni Hall of Fame a few months later during Homecoming weekend.

  • A crowd of Monmouth students gazes at the solar eclipse through special glasses.

    Things are looking up

    Monmouth wasn’t quite in the “band of totality” for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, but thanks to special lenses provided by the College’s physics department, the campus community was able to witness the historic event.

  • Lacrosse players battle for the ball.

    Lacrosse begins with a win

    On an unseasonably warm February day, the men’s lacrosse team won its inaugural game at April Zorn Memorial Stadium, a 9-5 victory over Carroll University. The women’s team recorded its first win later in the spring, a thrilling 17-14 come-from-behind win over Cornell College.

  • Pole vaulter Dan Evers clears the bar.

    All-American boy

    Pole vaulter Dan Evers added to his collection of All-American honors by placing second at the NCAA indoor meet and third at the outdoor meet. In the process, the four-time All-American reached one of his lofty goals, clearing 17 feet. As he prepares for his final collegiate season, Evers’ best vault is within four inches of the all-time Monmouth mark.

  • Cross Country runners in the country.

    ‘If you put in the work ...’

    Cross country runners Cooper Pauley and Tate Heiple log some miles on Monmouth’s back roads in preparation for the Fighting Scots’ two biggest meets of the year, the Midwest Conference Championships and the Midwest Regional. At the latter race, Pauley ran one of the fastest 8K times in Monmouth history.