"At this institution, teaching comes first. Great teaching isn’t just about reaching the most talented students … it’s about reaching every student.” This fall, when U.S. News & World Report once again named North Central College as one of the 80 best places in the nation for undergraduate teaching, the magazine confirmed what all of us committed to this college know and believe. Great teaching is our raison d’etre, our reason for existence. And that teaching takes place all over campus. Fifty years from now, when the members of the Class of 2011 return to campus for North Central’s Bicentennial, they’ll be talking about professors whose lessons they have never forgotten, a secretary in the business or registrar or financial aid office or a myriad of other places on campus who got them through a meltdown when it seemed their world was collapsing, a coach, a hall director, a grounds staff member or a cook who took time to listen when it really mattered. I thought a lot about teaching this summer, the subject of the faculty retreat that began the school year. Among other things, I read a new book, Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — And What We Can Do About It, and, although I disagreed with many of the authors’ points, their critique of the retreat from teaching in much of higher education rang true. In that context, North Central’s unwavering commitment to our teaching mission can be seen as a fundamental differentiator in the marketplace and the foundation of all our success. This issue of the North Central Now, our Annual Report for 2009-2010, is full of highlights from another remarkable year—the 149th—for the College we love. Record enrollments, numerous honors for our graduates, three national athletic championships, the completion and opening of the largest building in the College’s history, a highly successful reaccreditation process with the next review scheduled for 2019-2020, a $13 million increase in net assets … the list goes on and on. But it is all built on the same sturdy foundation: our mission of preparing students to be informed, involved, principled and productive citizens and leaders over their lifetime, and the dedication of faculty and staff who daily witness for and teach to that mission. Some of these great teachers are profiled in this magazine. As you read about them, keep in mind that there are hundreds more members of the North Central campus family whose impact on students inside and outside the classroom could just as easily been highlighted. This is what we do. This is who we are. For the past 15 years, sustaining and enhancing the quality of North Central’s academic program has been the responsibility of Dr. R. Devadoss Pandian, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. Himself one of the College’s great teachers, Dr. Pandian knows what he’s looking for when he interviews every candidate for a faculty appointment. And he always lets them know that at this institution, teaching comes first and that great teaching isn’t just about reaching the most talented students … it’s about reaching every student. It is that ethic, which extends from faculty to coaches to staff throughout the College, that we celebrate in this Annual Report. It is an ethic in which I, and everyone who loves this college, can take great pride.
Harold R. Wilde President