Eureka College

Eureka College
Motto "The Moment of Discovery"
Type Private College
Established 1855
Affiliation Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Endowment $16,190,377
President Dr. Jamel Santa Cruze Wright
Students 785
Location Eureka, Illinois, United States
40°42′50″N 89°16′05″W / 40.714°N 89.268°W / 40.714; -89.268Coordinates: 40°42′50″N 89°16′05″W / 40.714°N 89.268°W / 40.714; -89.268
Campus 112 acres (0.45 km2) rural
Colors Maroon and Gold          
Nickname Red Devils

Eureka College is a liberal arts college in Eureka, Illinois, related by covenant to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).[1] It has a strong focus on the mutual development of intellect and character.[1] Stated core values are learning, service and leadership.[1] Eureka offers a classical liberal arts education with an array of requirements that are designed to create well-rounded, critical thinking leaders. Popular majors include education, business, history, political science, communication, and the fine and performing arts. Enrollment in 2010–11 was about 785 students. Dr. David J. Arnold resigned in 2016. Dr. Jamal Santa Cruz Wright is currently serving as Interim President of Eureka College.

Eureka College was the third college in the United States to admit men and women on an equal basis.[2] Future U.S. president Abraham Lincoln spoke on campus in 1856. Future U.S. president Ronald Reagan graduated from Eureka College in 1932 with a degree in economics and sociology, and the college has continued to be closely associated with his legacy. In 2010, Eureka College was designated as a national historic district by the National Park Service.[3]


Collage of historical Eureka College images from 1904 with the presidential residence in the top left, President Hieronymus in the top right, a general view of the campus in the center, the Linda Woods Young Ladies Hall in the bottom left, and Burgess Memorial Hall in the bottom right.
Eureka College in 1904

The college was founded in 1848 by a group of abolitionists who had left Kentucky because of their opposition to slavery and was originally named the Walnut Grove Academy.[2][4][5] It was chartered in 1855.[6] When the school was founded, it was the first school in Illinois (and only the third in the United States) to educate women on an equal basis with men. Abingdon College merged with Eureka in 1885.[7]


The school's main library, Melick Library, was named in honor of Wesley M. Melick and Clinton F. Melick. The building was dedicated on September 28, 1967, by California governor and Eureka College alumnus Ronald Reagan '32,[8] who was later elected President of the United States.

Eureka College failed the United States Department of Education's financial-responsibility test in the years 2007-09, but has made strong improvements in financial stability based on record enrollments for five straight years leading up through the 2011-2012 academic year.[9]

On October 26, 2010, the College announced that it will build a new residence hall and renovate several existing residence halls, in what college officials are calling the most comprehensive and costly facilities project in college history. The Eureka College Board of Trustees voted October 8 to construct a $6 million residence hall on Reagan Drive and make $5 million in updates to existing living quarters.[10]

On Friday, February 11, 2011, the Peoria Journal Star online edition stated that, "Eureka College has received a major gift from Mark R. Shenkman to create a Reagan research center in Melick Library on campus. The Mark R. Shenkman Reagan Research Center has a goal to acquire every book written about Reagan as a resource for the Eureka College community and scholars in general; the college archives and museum houses the second largest Reagan memorabilia collection after the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California. The center was dedicated in 2011, 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth. Mark Shenkman is a member of the Ronald Reagan Society at Eureka College and founder and president of Shenkman Capital Management Inc., an investment advisory firm in New York."[11]

According to a Saturday, May 11, 2013 news story in the Bloomington Pantagraph online edition, Richard Sanders, Professor Emeritus of History at Eureka, gave the College its largest one-time gift- $3 million- to expand the almost 100-year-old Vennum-Binkley Hall, which houses organic and inorganic science classrooms and labs. Ground was broken in 2013 and construction is scheduled for completion by fall of 2014.[12]


Eureka College athletic teams, known as the Red Devils, participate at the NCAA Division III level.[13] There are teams for men's and women's soccer, basketball, tennis, swimming, golf and track, as well as football, volleyball, baseball and softball. Starting in fall 2006, teams will compete as part of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Eureka was a member of the Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference until the spring of 2006. Eureka College was also a member of the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1910 to 1942. On September 1, 2012 Eureka College quarterback Sam Durley set an NCAA record with 736 passing yards in Eureka's 62–55 victory over Knox College. That beat the old record of 731 yards set by a Menlo College quarterback in 2000.[14]


The academic program at Eureka College seeks to maintain a balance between requirements which all students must meet and freedom for each student to select those courses which will best match and further one's own interests, skills, and life plan. The structure of the curriculum has been designed to reflect this balance.

The College requires each student to acquire and display skills in composition and mathematics. The College also requires each student to devote a portion of time to the study of humanities, fine and performing arts, natural sciences, and social sciences. These distribution requirements insure that each student will have the opportunity to explore what is considered common cultural heritage.

Notable locations on campus

Eureka College Administration and Chapel

Administration Building
Location 300 College Ave.
Eureka, Illinois
Coordinates 40°42′50″N 89°16′09″W / 40.7139°N 89.2691°W / 40.7139; -89.2691
Area 2.8 acres (1.1 ha)
Built 1858
Architectural style Italianate, Georgian, Federal
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP May 31, 1980

Ronald Reagan

Eureka College is the smallest college or university in American history to graduate a future U.S. President with a bachelor's degree. Among its alumni throughout history are forty-two college and university presidents, seven Governors and members of U.S. Congress, and the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan, class of 1932.[18] Among more than 4,900 American institutions of higher learning today, only 22 have given a future U.S. President an undergraduate diploma.

The relationship between Ronald Reagan and Eureka College is among the strongest between an American President and his college alma mater. Since the "Reagan Forward" initiative launched by Eureka College President J. David Arnold in 2008, the college began to serve the legacy of Ronald Reagan with active programming and the creation of a membership-driven group of supporters known as the Ronald W. Reagan Society. The Reagan Forward campaign and the society which supports it have helped propel the college as the national symbol for Ronald Reagan's Midwestern upbringing, his education and development as a leader, and the promise of American opportunity his life proves.

Ronald Reagan is the only president born, raised and educated in the state of Illinois.[8] Reagan's relationship with his alma mater began in 1928 when he entered as a freshman from Dixon, Illinois, at age 17. Following his graduation on June 10, 1932, with a joint major in economics and sociology,[19] Ronald Reagan returned for visits on twelve recorded occasions. He served on the board of trustees for three terms, stayed connected to his fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon, communicated with his football coach and mentor Ralph "Mac" McKinzie, and helped support fund-raising drives including with his own financial commitments to the college. Reagan gave three commencement addresses at Eureka College in 1957, 1982 and 1992.[20] He dedicated the Melick Library building in 1967 and the Reagan Physical Education Center in 1970. When he died in 2004, Eureka College was one of three officially designated recipients of memorial gifts by his family.

In 1982, President Reagan told a Eureka College audience, "Everything that has been good in my life began here."[21] He made similar statement at several other public speeches.

Eureka College has created programs related to Ronald Reagan, with a goal of enhancing the educational experience for its students:

Ronald Reagan Museum

Ronald Reagan on the Eureka College Football Team, 1929

The Ronald W. Reagan Museum, located within the Donald B. Cerf Center, contains a collection of objects and memorabilia largely donated by Reagan. The items are from his times as a student, actor, athlete, Governor of California and President of the United States. Admission is free.[34]


In the U.S. News & World Report 2010, Eureka was ranked as a Tier 1 "regional college" in the Midwest.[35] "Regional college" refers to smaller institutions that draw most students from the surrounding area and focus on undergraduate education, but grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.[36][37]


About 55 percent of the students at Eureka are women, while about 45 percent are men. One percent of the students are Native American, one percent are Asian, 8 percent are African-American, and 89 percent are white. One percent of the students are international, but 92 percent of the students are from the state of Illinois. Sixty-eight percent of students live on campus.[38]

Eureka also offers four-year, full-tuition scholarships to two students interested in pursuing ministry in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Ministry Fellows receive two on-site mentorships exploring ministry, are expected to live on campus, maintain a 3.0 GPA, fully participate in ECMF activities, and display exceptional leadership, spiritual growth and maturity.[39]

Greek life

As of 2009, 33% of male students are in social fraternities, while 42% of female students are in social sororities.



Notable speakers and visitors

Notable alumni

Many former students at Eureka College have gone into politics and made important contributions to science.

Honorary degree recipients

Notable faculty




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Further reading

External links

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