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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. Since 2005, the president of Eureka College has been J. David Arnold.

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]


  • 1 History
  • 2 Overview
  • 3 Athletics
  • 4 Academics
  • 5 Notable locations on campus
  • 6 Ronald Reagan
  • 7 Ronald Reagan Museum
  • 8 Rankings
  • 9 Demographics
  • 10 Greek life
    • 10.1 Fraternities
    • 10.2 Sororities
  • 11 Notable speakers and visitors
  • 12 Notable alumni
  • 13 Honorary degree recipients
  • 14 Notable faculty
  • 15 References
  • 16 Bibliography
  • 17 Further reading
  • 18 External links


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.


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,[7] 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.[8]

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 million residence hall on Reagan Drive and make million in updates to existing living quarters.[9]

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."[10]

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- 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.[11]


Eureka College athletic teams, known as the Red Devils, participate at the NCAA Division III level.[12] 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 College was a member of the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1910 to 1942. Eureka was also a member of the Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference until the spring of 2006. 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.[13]


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[edit]

  • The Eureka College campus is 112 acres (0.45 km2).[1]
  • Burrus Dickinson Hall, Administration building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.[15]
  • The Chapel is the building where Ronald Reagan gave his first public speech. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.[16]
  • The Melick Library houses the Eureka College Archives. President Reagan gave a speech at its opening.
  • The Reagan Physical Education Center (also known as the Reagan Gym) was dedicated in 1970 by brothers Neil Reagan '33 and Ronald Reagan '32 and named in their honor. The center houses the basketball court, a swimming pool, weight rooms, and a state-of-the-art exercise center. In 1982, President Reagan announced the START treaty proposal in the Reagan Gym during the commencement address to the class of 1982. In 2015, The Bonati Fitness Center and Reagan Center Pool underwent renovation. These renovations included the rebuilding of the previously aged gym.

Ronald Reagan[edit]

Eureka College alumni include forty-two college and university presidents, seven Governors and members of U.S. Congress, and the 40th President of the United States of America, Ronald Wilson Reagan, class of 1932.[17] 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 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.[7] 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,[18] 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.[19] 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."[20] 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:

  • In 1982, Eureka College established the Ronald W. Reagan Leadership Program with President Reagan's blessing and assistance to provide scholarships, having awarded 128 four-year full tuition scholarships to designated Reagan Fellows.[21]
  • In 1994, Eureka College established a museum named after Reagan to hold and interpret many items which he donated to the college during his lifetime, under the leadership of founding curator Dr. Brian Sajko.
  • In 2000, Eureka College dedicated the Reagan Peace Garden with a gift from central Illinois philanthropists Anne and David Vaughan to commemorate his important commencement speech at Eureka College in which Reagan called for nuclear arms reductions between the Soviet Union and the United States.
  • In 2008, Eureka College's president, J. David Arnold, launched a new effort known at "Reagan Forward" to build on the Reagan legacy with the unanimous backing of the board of trustees.
  • In 2008, Eureka College launched the Ronald W. Reagan Society to raise support for the college as a living legacy of Ronald Reagan and a national monument to American opportunity his story represents; more than 1,000 donations had been received in 2011.
  • On March 27, 2009, Eureka College hosted former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, the man of whom President Ronald Reagan famously demanded "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," in reference to the Berlin Wall that held citizens of East Berlin captive by threat of violence by the Communists. President Gorbachev visited the section of the Berlin Wall on display in the Reagan Peace Garden on campus. President Arnold gave President Gorbachev an honorary degree during a convocation in which students asked the former Soviet leader questions.[22]
  • On March 31, 2009, Eureka College gave Nancy Reagan an honorary degree from her husband's alma mater at a private ceremony in the private quarters of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.[23]
  • On November 9, 2009, Eureka College celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with speaker General P.X. Kelley USMC (Ret.).[24]
  • Throughout 2010–11, Eureka College organized the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration whose honorary chairman was Governor Jim Edgar of Illinois.[25]
  • On May 14, 2011, Eureka College held its 150th commencement coinciding with the year-long Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration, and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich delivered the commencement address.[26]
  • January 13–15, 2011, Eureka College hosted an academic conference entitled "Reagan and the Midwest," designed to emphasize the study of the roots of Ronald Reagan. More than 15 scholars and authors attended including Martin Anderson and Annelise Anderson from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, former United States Attorney General Edwin Meese III, journalist Fred Barnes, author Craig Shirley, author Peter Hannaford, and scholars Andrew Cayton.[27]
  • In 2011, Eureka College dedicated the Mark R. Shenkman Reagan Research Center and College Archives within the Melick Library on campus. Funded by its namesake, the center is collecting and maintaining every book and doctoral dissertation ever written about Ronald Reagan as a resource for scholars, students, and public.[28]
  • On March 28, 2012, Eureka College named James A. Baker III as an Honorary Reagan Fellow of Eureka College at a dinner ceremony hosted by the Ronald W. Reagan Society at the Union League Club of New York.[29]
  • In celebration of the 103rd anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birthday, February 6, 2013, Eureka College announced a million gift from the estate of President Reagan's brother Neil Reagan (Eureka College Class of 1933) and sister-in-law Bess.[30]
  • On April 9, 2013, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court visited Eureka College where she was named an Honorary Reagan Fellow and gave a speech about her relationship with President Reagan.[31]
  • The Honorable George P. Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State, Treasury, Labor and Director of [OMB] was named Honorary Reagan Fellow at a Ronald W. Reagan Society ceremony in San Francisco in November 18, 2014.[32]

Ronald Reagan Museum[edit]

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.[33]


In the U.S. News & World Report 2010, Eureka was ranked as a Tier 1 "regional college" in the Midwest.[34] "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.[35][36]


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.[37]

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.[38]

Greek life[edit]

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


  • Delta Sigma Phi, Zeta Upsilon Chapter
  • Tau Kappa Epsilon, Iota Chapter
  • Lambda Chi Alpha, Theta-Chi Chapter
  • Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Eta Lambda Chapter


  • Phi Omega, Alpha Chapter - Local Sorority
  • Delta Delta Pi, Alpha Chapter - Local Sorority
  • Delta Zeta, Pi Chapter

Notable speakers and visitors[edit]

  • 1856: Abraham Lincoln[39]
  • 1915: Booker T. Washington
  • 1927: Kirby Page[40]
  • 1934: Norman Thomas[41]
  • 1967: Everett M. Dirksen[42]
  • 1988: Cornel West
  • 1992: Dan Quayle[43]
  • 1994: Ray Bradbury[44]
  • 1996: William F. Buckley, Jr[45]
  • 2009: Mikhail Gorbachev[46]
  • 2011: Newt Gingrich (commencement)[47]
  • 2011: Edwin Meese III[48]
  • 2011: Sarah Palin[49]
  • 2013: Sandra Day O'Connor[50]
  • 2015: Scott Walker[51]
  • 2015: James W. Owens[52]

Notable alumni[edit]

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

  • Emik Avakian, inventor and owner of numerous patents, graduated 1948.[53]
  • Frank Frantz, attended in 1880's, Rough Rider and the final Governor of Oklahoma Territory.[54]
  • Oliver Perry Hay, zoologist, graduated 1870.[55]
  • William A. Poynter, Nebraska politician and the tenth Governor of Nebraska, graduated in 1867.[56]
  • Tom Vaughn, Famous Jazz musician[57]
  • Durward Sandifer, Class of 1924, key person in writing the U.N. Declaration of Rights[58]
  • Janelle Miller Reents, former president of Monical's Pizza, class of 1992[59]
  • Neil Reagan, radio, TV and advertising executive, brother of Ronald Reagan, graduated 1933.[60]
  • Ronald Reagan, actor, California governor and 40th President of the United States, graduated 1932.

Honorary degree recipients[edit]

  • Garfield Todd and Grace Todd, 1978.
  • Nancy Reagan, 2009.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev, 2010.

Notable faculty[edit]


  • Emma Smith DeVoe, Music, 1870-71.
  • Oliver Perry Hay, Science.
  • Mary Frances Winston Newson, Mathematics.
  • Ralph McKinzie, football coach, 1921-37.


  • J. David Arnold, Educator and Psychologist.
  • Junius P. Rodriguez, Historian.


  1. ^ a b c d "Eureka College | Best College | US News". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  2. ^ a b "Eureka College—Creating Future Leaders". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  3. ^ Anonymous. "Eureka College listed to National Register of Historic Places - Peoria, IL". Woodford Times. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  4. ^ Callary, Edward. 2009. Place Names of Illinois. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, p. 116.
  5. ^ Eureka College, Campus News
  6. ^ Discover Eureka College
  7. ^ a b Dr. Brian Sajko. "The Ideal Alum". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  8. ^ "ISU enrollment remains stable". 2010-09-09. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  9. ^ WEEK Producer (2011-03-11). "Eureka College Breaks Ground On New Residence Halls | WEEK News 25 - News, Sports, Weather - Peoria, Illinois | Local". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  10. ^ Anonymous (2011-02-14). "Eureka College receives gift - Peoria, IL". Woodford Times. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Eureka College Athletics - Eureka, Illinois - Undergraduate Search at". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  13. ^ "Division III QB sets NCAA single-game passing record". Yahoo!Sports. 1 September 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  14. ^ Staff (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  15. ^ "The Council of Independent Colleges: Historic Campus Architecture Project". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  16. ^ "National Register of Historical Places - ILLINOIS (IL), Woodford County". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  17. ^ "Education". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  18. ^ "Famous Sociology Majors". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  19. ^ "In Memoriam: Ronald W. Reagan". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  20. ^ Keen, Judy (2011-01-24). "Heartland lays claim to native son Reagan". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  21. ^ "A Q&A with Michael Thurwanger". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  22. ^ Michele Steinbacher (2009-03-28). "During Eureka visit, Gorbachev reflects on partnership with Reagan". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  23. ^ Anonymous (2009-03-31). "Eureka grants honorary degree to Nancy Reagan - Peoria, IL". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  24. ^ Anonymous. "Reagan appointment starts endowment - Peoria, IL". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  25. ^ Steinbacher, Michele (2010-09-07). "Edgar kicks off Eureka College's Reagan tribute". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  26. ^ McDowell, Jerry (2011-05-14). "Gingrich praises Reagan during speech at Eureka". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  27. ^ Steinbacher, Michele (2011-01-13). "Eureka set for 'Reagan and the Midwest' event". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  28. ^ "Eureka College gift to be used for Reagan Research Center". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^'Connor%20Eureka%20College%20you%20tube
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Eureka". The Ronald Reagan Trail. 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  34. ^ "Regional Colleges", U.S. News & World Report College Ranking 2010
  35. ^ U.S. News Staff (2010-08-17). "How U.S. News Calculates the College Rankings - US News and World Report". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  36. ^ "Regional College Midwest Rankings | Top Regional Colleges Midwest | US News Best Colleges". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  37. ^ "Eureka College Admissions, Application, Demographics". College Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  38. ^ "the eureka idea". 2008-06-14. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ Wikiquote:Ray Bradbury
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ "Dr. Emik Avakian '48 a reason to invest". Eureka College. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^ "Nebraska Governor William Amos Poynter". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^ Yeager 63


  • Yager, Edward M., Ronald Reagan's Journey: Democrat to Republican, Rowman & Littlefield, 2006, ISBN 0-7425-4421-4

Further reading[edit]

  • Harold Adams, History of Eureka College, 1855-1982. Eureka, IL: Board of Trustees of Eureka College, 1982.
  • Elmira J. Dickinson (ed.), A History of Eureka College: With Biographical Sketches and Reminiscences. St. Louis, MO: Christian Publishing Company, 1894.
  • Jephthah Hobbs, About Eureka College. Garrettsville, OH: Peirce-Sherwood Printing Co. 1894.
  • Eureka College, Eureka, Illinois, 1855-1955: A Community of Learning in Search of Truth, Human and Divine. Eureka, IL: Eureka College, [1955].
  • On This Day in Eureka History
  • MODELS - "Matrons of Distinction": Eureka Leadership Series
  • VIBES - "Variations in Black" Eureka's Stories

External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • Official Athletics website
  • Ronald Reagan Museum at Eureka College