McKendree Marches Toward its Bicentennial with Great Successes

Now more than ever, it’s a great day – a great time, even – to be a Bearcat. As universities throughout the nation struggle to stay afloat and remain relevant in today’s ever-shifting educational landscape, McKendree University stands steadfast and ready to serve its students now and in the future. It continues to make important changes and positively affect lives every single day. You can hear it in the students who applaud and cheer for their peers who showcase their hard work during Academic Excellence Day, in the resounding hums of construction machinery on campus, and in Bothwell Chapel’s historic bell that counts time as more and more students sign their name on the 196-year-old matricula during convocation.

McKendree’s Educational Programs Continue to Skyrocket

As an institution that deeply values lifelong learning, McKendree saw fit to take steps in addressing the teacher shortage not only in Illinois but also throughout the nation by creating the Paraprofessional+ Pathway program. This ingenious new program, which allows paraprofessionals to become Illinois licensed teachers at the elementary level or the special education level in only two years, has seen impressive growth and higher demand in only one short year. Furthermore, it gained certification from the Illinois State Board of Education and became the first-ever approved apprenticeship model for the State of Illinois through the Department of Labor this spring.

The School of Education doesn’t stop there. It continues to fill in the educational gaps seen in Illinois by providing a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, which allows paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, content knowledge pathway candidates, and anyone who already holds a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university to receive their initial licensure in either three or five semesters. All portions of the program – elementary, middle, and secondary education – are fully available online, making it a convenient and flexible choice for working teachers-to-be.

The School of Business Remains a Solid Choice for Students

McKendree’s School of Education isn’t the only division that’s experiencing wild success. The School of Business has recently received specialized accreditation for its business programs through the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). For good reason, too – this division is a powerhouse that continues to provide students with several majors to choose from, including accounting, business administration, cyber defense, entrepreneurship, communications, and many more. Additionally, many of these degrees are offered in-person, online, or as a hybrid option. It’s no wonder why the School of Business tends to be – and remains – a popular choice for students seeking quality, versatile degrees in today’s ever-changing industries.

The Campus Sees Beautiful, Innovative Improvements

McKendree isn’t just investing in its curricula; it is also prioritizing enhancing its learning spaces, making it even more inclusive and accessible for all. In the fall of 2022, the second floor of Holman Library was transformed into an advanced education and conference center that now boasts state-of-the-art technology, making it perfect for in-person and virtual meetings and presentations. With a chic new design and thoughtfully-curated spaces, it now serves as the premier location for several important events on campus, including Honors Program theses presentations, faculty presentations, board meetings, and much more.

The campus’s student center on the quad, affectionately known as The Lair, is also seeing major renovations this summer. Not only will the interior be completely rehauled and modernized, but the outer infrastructure is also being remade to guarantee seamless wheelchair accessibility, from entrance ramps to widened pathways. Students will be able to enjoy these updates starting in the Fall 2024 semester.

Finally, Voigt Science Hall’s long-awaited renovations are underway, thanks to the generous donations made to McKendree’s FORWARD campaign. Phase one has already begun as the north side of the building undergoes construction until January 2025. Phase two, the building’s south side, will kick off next summer with anticipated completion in January 2026. Students and faculty alike will soon enjoy enhanced laboratory spaces, updated and cutting-edge technologies, and user-friendly spaces that make studying and collaboration easy and welcome.

More and More Students Are Choosing to “Make It McKendree”

McKendree continues to experience record levels of enrollment from 1,158 in 2021 to an estimated 1,360 for 2024. As of now, 89% of this spring’s students are registered for next fall. Additionally, undergraduate hours are up by an impressive 71% compared to 2023’s figures, and master’s hours are up by 48%.

The university is also seeing some of the largest classes in its 196 years of history within the past two years. The Class of 2027 already demonstrated their academic prowess and potential with a cumulative grade point average of 3.5. McKendree also continues to welcome not only Bearcats in its own backyard, but also students from several states, countries, and territories. Last year, McKendree welcomed students from 35 states and 28 countries.

Additionally, during this year’s commencement, 595 degrees were conferred, including 20 doctoral degrees, 181 master’s degrees, 376 bachelor's degrees, 9 specialist degrees, and 8 associate degrees. The new graduates also represented 30 states and 19 countries and territories. These graduates, like those before them, will experience an impressive 98% employment and graduate school success rate.

McKendree also continues to boast a diverse offering of athletic teams for its students to participate in. Currently, the university has 37 different teams, giving everyone a chance to shine on the field in their own ways.

As the university continues to flourish, more people have taken notice and decided to invest in McKendree. During this year’s Founders Week, the university saw unparalleled success with the community rallying together to raise an astounding total of $458,001.60 from 422 generous donors. This total surpassed 2023’s record, tripling the dollars raised. Donors everywhere are seeing that investing in McKendree’s future and the future of its students is a worthy cause and are making their dedication known. For this, the university continues to be grateful and is determined to continue bettering the lives of all present and future Bearcats.

McKendree Firmly Sets its Sights on the Horizon

As the McKendree community continues to celebrate the many successes our campus has seen recently, we eagerly anticipate our bicentennial in 2028. Not many institutions of higher learning reach this milestone. We are honored and humbled to be so close to this historic moment, which stands as a testament to our legacy and the impact that McKendree has had – and continues to have – in shaping our world’s leaders and thinkers.

We see it repeat every year: curious prospective students set foot on campus only to fall in love with their surroundings and the friendly, caring people here. Current students don purple, become involved with the campus community, and receive the care and support they need to reach their goals and graduate. Alumni fondly remember their time at McKendree, come home, beam with pride at the ways their alma mater continues to provide for its students, and invest in the future. We couldn’t be more grateful to call these students – past, present, and future – our Bearcats and to serve them to our utmost ability.

Trust us, the best is yet to come.