North Central College - Naperville, IL

Arlo L. Schilling

1960-1975, Seventh President

Arlo L. Schilling was the youngest president in the history of the College. He was 35 when he was inaugurated in November 1960.

Schilling was born and raised in an Evangelical United Brethren family in Indiana. He served in World War II and received a Purple Heart, an Oak Leaf cluster and three battle citations. After the war, he attended Huntington College and received a master’s degree from Indiana University in education. Schilling then moved to Purdue University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1958.

Immediately before becoming president of North Central, Schilling served as the assistant superintendent of schools in Elkhart, Indiana. His wife Gloria and three young daughters (Emily, Janey and Nancy) accompanied Schilling to Naperville.

Early in his 15-year tenure as president, Schilling laid out his plans for North Central: “The character of the future will be determined by the quality of what men do today. No element in American life will have a greater effect on that future than education. Here at NCC we have been doing our planning—trustees, administration and faculty alike—determining what we are and where we are going. We believe that some of the answers we have come up with have real meaning in terms of what America is and must become.”

Schilling found the North Central student “normally rebellious. Above average in intelligence, often brilliant, he has assessed his family, church, school, and state to the degree that he knows their answers are not always right. Yet arbitrary to his loyalties, he is looking for his own footing in morals, religion, social relations, and some extent in politics.” The president looked to his faculty to help students find that footing: “The college teacher is the custodian of the heritage of the past, the inspiration for his students in the present, and the ‘idea’ man of the future.”

As the students at North Central looked to faculty, so Schilling could rely on a group of prominent local alumni for guidance and support. Milton Stauffer, class of 1919, was the vice president at Kroehler Manufacturing Company, the largest employer in Naperville during Schilling’s tenure. Stauffer served as chairman of the board of trustees during Schilling’s presidency, as well as mayor of Naperville. Harold Moser, class of 1938, developed numerous subdivisions in Naperville during these years. Harris Fawell, class of 1951, represented the Naperville area in the Illinois State Senate (and later as a U.S. Congressman) beginning in 1962, and offered Schilling advice on governmental affairs.

Schilling’s accomplishments as president included the institution of academic tenure and professional terms for faculty; the construction of Rall Hall, the Student Village and the Science Center; the renovations of Merner, Pfeiffer and Kaufman halls; and the survival of the College’s financial and enrollment crises of the early 1970s.

Schilling also steered the College through the turbulent years of the late 1960s, when civil rights, the Vietnam War and broad societal unrest shook colleges and universities across the United States. Schilling oversaw major revisions to the curriculum, administration and calendar. In all, he understood that change was necessary, but he insisted that it be orderly. In 1969, he noted, “Some students today demand that an institution immediately change its direction in order to comply with their own particular perception of what the college’s mission ought to be. We recognize clearly that our educational process must relate far more realistically to the fast changing demands of this world. These changes, many of which are already occurring at North Central, must take place in a planned and deliberate way with some deep concern for the long-run integrity of the College itself. Change comes from the strength of ideas, respect for orderly process and reasonable consensus with regard to the goals of the College.”

In 1975, after 15 years as president, Schilling retired. He then began a career as a consultant in educational and financial planning and served on boards of financial and civic groups. He died in 1999. Two years later his wife Gloria died.

On Schilling’s death, President Wilde opined that Schilling “invented the modern North Central College.”