North Central honors Eric McLaren ’86 with Outstanding Alumni Award

Oct 16, 2012

North Central College is honoring Eric McLaren, Ph.D., of Sugar Grove with a 2012 Outstanding Alumni Award.

McLaren and five others will be honored during the College’s Homecoming Convocation at 4:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, at North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville.

McLaren has devoted his career to advancing the mission of the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA), most recently as its principal and vice president for academic programs. In that role, he has been responsible for ensuring quality instruction and the integrity of the overall academic and residential program. A charter staff member, McLaren began as a resident counselor in 1986 and was subsequently promoted to head resident counselor, coordinator of residential life, assistant principal/coordinator of community learning and principal. He was named vice president for academic programs in 2004.  

His leadership style is characterized by his ability to motivate others by building a shared sense of purpose. In fall 2010, McLaren was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. “Find something that feeds your sense of purpose and be willing to look low for that purpose as well as high,” he said to IMSA students in a video revealing his diagnosis. “It’s one way to learn how to be more fully human as you press beyond ‘being good’ to ‘being good for something.’”

McLaren has continued in his leadership role at IMSA for an extended time as vice president for academic programs, helping establish a connection between the academy and ALS research efforts. In 2011, he and his family, along with IMSA, hosted an ALS Awareness Night Gala to advance a partnership between IMSA and Project ALS that will focus on programs and research. The proceeds went to the McLaren Family Research Fund at Project ALS and to a fund at IMSA called Cure A Dreaded Human Ailment (CADHA). “If I have to have a disease, then I want something good to come from it,” McLaren has said.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from North Central College in 1986 and went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Northern Illinois University.

Others being honored during Homecoming Convocation are Outstanding Alumni Award recipients Maria Wynne of Chicago, Priscilla Gallagher of Chicago, and Fred Janzen of Ames, Iowa; Wall of Witness honoree Wayne Duehn of Arlington, Texas; and Alumni Recognition Award recipient Matthew Brill of Pottstown, Penn.