North Central News

North Central College achieves historic levels of media attention

Kelly Murphy

Nov 30, 2021

November 2021 was a record-setting month on the media front that launched North Central’s reputation and credibility to new levels. In 2020, the College secured a total 126 media placements for the year. In November 2021 alone, the College secured 78 media placements on a variety of topics: from national recognition of our first-generation program—Cardinal First—to our football team looking to defend their national title, the College and its subject matter experts alike have continued to capture the media spotlight. To date, North Central is experiencing an 84 percent increase in media placements for the 2021 calendar year.

North Central College football team heads into postseason under media spotlight

At long last, the Cardinals look to defend their 2019 national title, working their way through the postseason. North Central continues to remain in the No. 1 spot in the Top 25 Polls. The Cardinals are also ranked No. 1 by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).

The team’s momentum and track record have mustered up a sustained media following (see below). To stay up-to-date on the Cardinals throughout the postseason, visit the athletics website.

North Central College postseason media features

North Central College vs. University Wisconsin-La-Crosse

North Central College vs. Washington University

North Central College vs. North Park University

North Central College vs. Carnegie Mellon University

Cardinal First’s receipt of ‘Example of Excelencia’ award of service to Latino students captures the attention of media outlets regionally and nationally

Excelencia in Education, the nation’s premier authority on efforts to accelerate Latino student success in higher education, announced Cardinal First—North Central College’s program for first-generation college students—as a winner of its 2021 Examples of Excelencia award. Cardinal First is the only institution nationwide to take the winning title in the baccalaureate category.

Excelencia announced four evidence-based programs, one in each of four categories—associate, baccalaureate, graduate and community-based organizations—as the 2021 Examples of Excelencia at its annual award ceremony, Celebración de Excelencia on Thursday, Oct. 28. The winning Examples of Excelencia received a $5,000 award for each respective program. Excelencia received 145 program submissions from 23 states and Puerto Rico. In all, 21 programs received national recognition as finalists for strategies advancing equity for Latinos.

The four standout programs are models of culturally responsive, asset-based efforts with evidence of effectiveness in recruiting, retaining, graduating, and preparing Latino students for success in the workforce that others can learn from to serve their students more intentionally.

This national recognition has lead Cardinal First to capture the attention of media outlets locally, regionally and nationally:

North Central master of science in physician assistant studies program highlighted in local media

North Central College’s recently launched master of science in physician assistant studies (MSPAS) program has received its Initial Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA), the accrediting body for physician assistant education. This distinction means that the College will welcome its first cohort of MSPAS students this January in compliance with the high standards of excellence and innovation established by ARC-PA.

The College’s MSPAS program will span 24 months, with the first year primarily devoted to content area instruction, followed by a year of clinical rotations. The program will emphasize the importance of hands-on experience, communication skills, and relationship building.

The program’s recent accreditation was featured in local media outlets:


Azarbad discusses mental health and America’s loneliness issue in Naperville Sun

Even before COVID-19 sent us into isolation, there was a loneliness problem in America. Scientists say more and more people feel disconnected from social circles at every age range, but particularly those in their twilight years. From the grade-schooler conditioned to keep a distance to the employee who only knows coworkers via Zoom to the aging adult whose circle has shrunk, many people — too many, professionals say — feel disconnected.

Leila Azarbad, professor of psychology, interviewed with the Naperville Sun, where she discussed the loneliness issues people have experienced and our need as human beings to socialize.

“We are by nature social creatures,” said Azarbad. “We really have a need to belong. Some of today’s loneliness can be attributed to the 2020 lockdown and the social distancing that grew out of it and still shadows us. You saw a lot of people form small, close-knit groups for practical reasons, because of fear of infection. Now, two years in, there’s a lot of lingering anxiety about how to get back out there. A lot of us have just fallen out of practice.”

Click here to read the full article in the Naperville Sun.

Hamalis weighs in on Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to the United States in the Chicago Tribune

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew—the spiritual leader of some 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide—spoke and received an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame, part of a historic 12-day visit to the United States.

The patriarch’s visit was seen as a moment of healing and a step on the long road toward potential reconciliation for the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches, centuries after the two ancient faiths broke from one another during the Great Schism of 1054.

Rev. Perry Hamalis, Cecelia Schneller Mueller Professor of Religion, was quoted in the Chicago Tribune regarding the patriarch’s visit to the United States.

“While this is a tumultuous time, Christ the ‘Prince of Peace’ is always offering healing and the Holy Spirit is always seeking to unite those who love God, love their neighbor and love creation,” said the Rev. Perry Hamalis, a professor of religious studies at North Central College in west suburban Naperville and an Orthodox deacon. “Orthodox Christians are people of hope — regardless of how much despair spreads in the world — and the visit of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spreads that hope in our great nation.”

Click here to read the full article on the Chicago Tribune.

Local entrepreneur leverages North Central Coffee Lab to bring success to his business and is featured on CBS 2 Chicago

North Central College’s Coffee Lab was recently featured in WBBM-AM Radio’s “Made in Chicago” segment that featured a coffee hobbyist and entrepreneur, Michael Jones, who uses the Lab to brew his brand of coffee, Badge Brew Coffee Roasters.

Jones has been a homicide detective in Evanston for 14 years. With retirement just a few years away, he wanted to pursue his passion of craft coffee. Two years ago, he launched the brand out of his own home in the western suburbs. He has since scaled up his operations going from two pounds at a time to roasting 25 pounds thanks to our Coffee Lab.

The segment reporter is an alumna of the College—Rachel Pierson ’16.

Click the links below to listen to the full story on WBBM-AM Radio:

Muck addresses Kinzinger’s retirement from Congress on WGN News

Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of the most prominent critics of former President Donald Trump in the House Republican Conference, announced in late October he would not seek reelection next year. Kinzinger is one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach the then-president in January after the riot at the Capitol and his announcement marks the second member of that group to say he will retire from Congress, joining Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio.

His decision came just hours after the Illinois state legislature passed a new congressional map that drew Kinzinger into the same district with another GOP incumbent, Rep. Darin LaHood, setting up a would-be primary matchup between Kinzinger and LaHood, a more reliable Trump ally in the House.

Bill Muck, professor of political science, interviewed with WGN News to provide analysis on Kinzinger’s retirement from Congress and what’s to come as a result of the redistricting.

“This isn’t really a surprising development,” said Muck. “Kinzinger has been hit from the right from Donald Trump for months now, making his life more difficult and when the Democrats came out with the new redistricting map, it was pretty clear it would be difficult for him to be reelected.”

Click here to watch the full interview on WGN News.

Caliendo discusses President Biden’s spending bill on FOX 32 Chicago

At the end of October and following months of negotiations with spending-hesitant moderates, President Joe Biden debuted a new social spending proposal aimed at restoring the middle class by tackling many of Democrats’ policy priorities. However, at the time, it was unclear whether the new package would muster up the support necessary to pass in the evenly split Senate.

Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, interviewed with FOX 32 Chicago, where he discussed President Biden’s spending bill.

“The most important thing will be to get the Democrats on board and that’s really been the challenge the last couple of weeks,” said Caliendo. “He doesn’t have a very big margin of Democratic support in the House either. In my political psychology course, we discuss the political psychology of groups, particularly the legislative bodies and how they come to compromise, and through this bill, President Biden stated ‘Look, this is part of the process, I didn’t get everything I wanted—and neither did a lot of other folks—but it’s better than not having it, so let’s move forward.’”

Click here to watch the full interview on FOX 32 Chicago.