McKendree University Doubles its Acreage

Photo of the Locust Hills Golf CourseBuys Locust Hills Golf Course in Lebanon

Lebanon, Ill. — McKendree University is purchasing the 109-acre Locust Hills Golf Course in Lebanon. The 18-hole public course and clubhouse is located at 1015 Belleville Street on the western edge of town. It lies partially adjacent to the McKendree West student apartment complex on College Road, which bisects the course. The acquisition nearly doubles the size of the 184-year-old campus, from 125 acres to 234.

The historic announcement was made on Apr. 21 at the William McKendree Society dinner for donors.

“This is a major investment that impacts not only the university but also the entire Lebanon community. It provides us with long-term flexibility for future development,” said Dr. James Dennis, McKendree University president. “Owning the golf course allows us to offer our students a variety of educational opportunities in the future.”

“Locust Hills has natural water features that our biology department could potentially use as an outdoor laboratory to study aquatic organisms and plant habitats,” Dennis said. “Our sport management majors could learn about golf course and recreational facilities management. It’s exciting to imagine the possibilities.”

The Board of Trustees has made this investment as part of its overall strategic plan for the university. Dennis emphasized that “no tuition dollars, scholarship dollars or operating support dollars were used for this purchase.”

The university purchased the property for $1.4 million from Locust Hills Golf Course, Inc. The property is zoned for commercial use.

In recent years McKendree University has bought several houses and vacant land in the campus vicinity to accommodate its growth and expanded services. “The acquisition of a singular large tract of land is a more prudent investment for long-term development and it enables the expansion of our campus at some point in the future,” Dennis noted.

The course—built in 1933 and one of Illinois’s oldest—will likely retain the Locust Hills name. “Our immediate plans are to operate it as a public golf course and to make any necessary improvements or enhancements as we are able,” Dennis said. The university will continue to employ as many current Locust Hills staff as it can, he added, noting that the golf course and clubhouse could create job opportunities for students as well.

“We view this purchase as a great mutual benefit that will continue to strengthen the partnership between McKendree University and the Lebanon community for years to come.”

McKendree University has experienced unprecedented growth and development, with the largest student enrollment and retention in its history. Recent expansion has included the construction of two new residence halls in 2011. McKendree has added a doctorate degree in education, a pre-engineering program, and new academic majors such as environmental studies and sport management. The McKendree Bearcat athletic program is currently transitioning to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Division II.