President Dennis Will Retire in 2020

President Dr. Dennis at the HettDr. James M. Dennis, who has made an indelible mark as president of McKendree University for 25 years, will retire on June 30, 2020, at the end of his current contract. The Board of Trustees will conduct a national presidential search for his successor, said Chairman Daniel Lett ’91.

“The accomplishments achieved as a result of Jim Dennis’ leadership have been nothing short of miraculous,” said Dan. “Upon his arrival in 1994, he sought to breathe new life and vitality into this institution—and he has done so by every measure. The McKendree University community has been transformed by a more diverse faculty and student body; state-of-the-art facilities; a rich curriculum and presence in the arts; a focus on service; and graduating young men and women who are successful in every field and walk of life.”

The next issue of the magazine will focus in depth on President Dennis and his significant accomplishments at McKendree University.

The president has been a catalyst for unprecedented growth and progress over a quarter-century. A native southern Californian with lifelong ties to higher education, he arrived in Lebanon, Ill., after a 27-year career at the University of Southern California, with a bold, enthusiastic vision for McKendree’s future. Under his guidance, McKendree has increased the academic strength of its faculty, students, and programs; enrollment, on-campus residence, construction and renovation, athletics and cocurricular activities, and acquisition of property. During his tenure, the number of faculty and staff has nearly tripled, and enrollment and fundraising have increased dramatically. McKendree’s growing reputation has garnered national attention from prestigious publications and organizations including U.S. News & World Report and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

His influence has extended beyond the campus as a member of numerous professional and civic organizations. He is the 2019 president of Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, a not-for-profit economic development corporation, and has served on the boards of the Higher Education Consortium of Metropolitan St. Louis, Memorial Hospital and the St. Louis Regional Chamber. He was on the executive board of the Council of Independent Colleges, the Associated Colleges of Illinois and the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities, and is the past president of Illinois Campus Compact, an organization dedicated to volunteerism.



 26 Years


October 4-6, 2019
Lebanon Campus
For more information, visit


February 20, 2020
The Russel E. and Fern M. Hettenhausen
Center for the Arts


May 2, 2020
The Chase Park Plaza
By Invitation Only


May 9, 2020
Lebanon Campus
Front Lawn