The McKendrean Magazine for McKendree Univeristy - Winter 2023

U.N.I.T.E.D. in a Worthy Cause

Feature by Tina (Napper) Tebbe ’08

Since opening its doors as Illinois’s first college in 1828, McKendree University has witnessed countless historical events take place on American soil: the Civil War, the erasure of slavery, two World Wars, the Great Depression and the right for women and people of color to vote. The University was here before America received the gift of Lady Liberty from France, the completion of the Transatlantic Railroad and the discovery of the planet Neptune. Throughout history, McKendree has remained a testament of likeminded people joining forces to create something for the greater good; in the University’s case, it is a high-quality education for exceptional students near and far.

Within its walls, McKendree has also successfully adapted to various changes in education, culture, economics and technology for 195 years. Throughout these times of change, what remains steadfast is McKendree’s dedication to its students. As the University approaches its 200th birthday in 2028, it will walk toward this new era with a forward-thinking attitude while maintaining the historical heart of the campus, thanks to the latest strategic plan, U.N.I.T.E.D.

In this edition of The McKendrean, we will spotlight the very important work that has been taking place within the first pillar: Updates and Modernization.


Redefining the Goal of One McKendree


This six-pronged plan will allow the University to enter its third century united as One McKendree. Each letter in the word “U.N.I.T.E.D.” stands for a singular idea or goal that McKendree will be striving for.


Updates & Modernization

Name Recognition & Identity

Intellectual Experience

Technology & Training


Diversity & Equity


Marrying Modernization with Historical Beauty

The two main goals of the “U” in U.N.I.T.E.D. include establishing and implementing a campus master plan, and improving the student experience with updated buildings. In short, it means that McKendree will be – and has been – taking steps to ensure that the beautiful buildings and the technological infrastructure on campus will meet current and future Bearcats’ learning needs. Plans are already underway to improve and maintain numerous buildings, including repainting, replacing furniture, making spaces more energy efficient, or bolstering technology-enhanced spaces, all while preserving the historic structure of the campus. In this strategic plan, the University plans to improve at least one academic space per summer.


McKendree ‘Bulks Up’ the Fitness Center

Tucked next to the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts, the fitness center received modernizations and updates to help Bearcats stay in tip-top shape. There is now a soccer team locker room in the east portion of the building, and the facility obtained updated workout equipment, including Nautilus machines, a Smith machine, a cable crossover machine, one climber/stepper machine, four treadmills, three elliptical machines, two upright bikes, two rubber hex dumbbell sets, racks, multi-angle benches and a squat machine. The center will also be outfitted with new paint, flooring, ceiling tiles and lighting, making it fit for students to practice, get some reps in and knock out stress, just in time for the beginning of the spring semester.

In addition, the McKendree West Clubhouse and the student lounge in Residence Hall West will reap the benefits of these updates as the University seeks to place a few cardio machines within those walls, allowing Bearcats to exercise a little bit closer to home.


The Lair Gets Ready to Shine

Built as part of The Deneen Center in 1967, The Lair has worn many proverbial hats in years past as a student lounge: recreation area, stage, pit stop for a quick bite to eat, a hideaway to do homework in and more. It’s here where commuting students go to catch up on their studies in between classes, late-night studiers order a burger and onion rings to stave off hunger, friends gather to shoot pool or throw darts, and members of the Campus Activities Board (CAB) host karaoke nights, movie showings, video game tournaments and other entertainment.

Now, the University is working with a team of students from the Student Government Association (SGA) and staff at The Lair to create a multipurpose hangout area for Bearcats. This future area is envisioned as a bright open space that will be outfitted with new windows, doors, ceiling tiles, lighting, flooring and new furniture, and will continue to host campus entertainment including musicians and comedians.

“I am excited to develop a more modern student center where students will feel comfortable spending time with family members and friends,” said Dr. Joni Bastian, vice president for student affairs. “I am thankful to previous and current donors made these projects possible for the University.”


U.N.I.T.E.D. as One McKendree.

Perhaps it was Helen Keller who put it best when she said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” As the University begins marching confidently toward its bicentennial in five short years, the campus community grows even more fervent in making McKendree the beacon of educational excellence for current and future students. Be sure to pick up our next edition in the summer, in which we will spotlight another pillar of the strategic plan and learn how McKendree plans to leave an indelible mark on the community and beyond.