North Central News

North Central College all over the news during a memorable March

Kelly Murphy

Mar 31, 2023

North Central College faculty experts continue to be in high demand to provide analysis on breaking news stories of the day. Speaking on political, social and emotional issues, the College’s subject matter experts displayed their expertise and brought clarity to complex topics. Additionally, the College announced its new president-elect which caught the attention of almost every TV broadcast and key radio stations across the Chicagoland area. Here is a recap of North Central College in the media in March:

Media outlets nationwide buzzing over North Central’s announcement of new president

A mission-driven leader, researcher, educator, and psychologist, Dr. Anita Thomas, 55, is a champion of liberal arts and sciences education, particularly as a foundation for inspiring curiosity and civic engagement among students. Over a career spanning more than 25 years in higher education, she has deep experience in shaping strategic vision and supporting the development of student intellectual life.

Thomas was unanimously elected by North Central College’s Board of Trustees following a months-long national search that engaged trustees, students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Her appointment is historic. Thomas is the first woman and the first person of color to lead North Central College in its 162-year history. In addition to leading the College, she will hold the faculty rank of professor of psychology in North Central’s College of Arts and Sciences.

North Central’s mission resonates deeply with Thomas. “Having the opportunity to become part of this extraordinary institution is truly a great joy and honor,” she said. “North Central is preparing our next generation of leaders and—in partnership with faculty, students, staff, the board, alumni, and the Naperville community—I am honored, humbled and ready to lead the College in the next phase of its storied history.”

Use the following links to view the media coverage of this historic moment in the College’s history:

To view the full announcement on Thomas’ appointment, visit the College’s website.

Caliendo provides analysis on Trump’s indictment across Chicago TV broadcast outlets

Former President Donald Trump’s indictment by a New York grand jury has thrusted the nation into uncharted political, legal and historical waters, and raised a slew of questions about how the criminal case will unfold.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been investigating Trump in connection with his alleged role in a hush money payment scheme and cover-up involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels that dates to the 2016 presidential election.

Though the indictment—which has been filed under seal—has yet to be unveiled, Trump and his allies have already torn into the grand jury’s decision, blasting it as a “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.”

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was immediately sought after by broadcast networks across Chicago for his political expertise on the unfolding story.

Use the links below to view Caliendo’s appearances:

Azarbad addresses mental health myth regarding suicides in Newsweek

Many people believe that suicide rates are at their highest during the winter months, specifically around Christmas, when many people struggle with loneliness, strains on their finances, and exacerbated family issues.

The truth in fact, is that the bulk of research consistently shows that the spring/summer months result in the highest number of suicides, a pattern that has remained consistent for many years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the highest number of suicides in the U.S. in 2021 occurred in August. In fact, one study found that cardiac mortality is at its highest around Christmas and New Year’s than any other time of the year, making it far more of a risk factor than suicide at that time of year.

Dr. Leila Azarbad, professor of psychology, was quoted in Newsweek, where she talked the Holiday Suicide Myth.

"The Holiday Suicide Myth is indeed a myth," said Azarbad. "In fact, suicide rates drop during the winter months and rise in the spring. November and December tend to have the lowest suicide rates, whereas April, May and June tend to have the highest rates."

Read the full story in Newsweek.

Caliendo and Chod break down the Chicago mayoral race over Chicago media outlets

In the closing days of the April 4 Chicago mayoral election, the final two candidates—Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas—are racing to garner those final commitments of support across the city. The contest has increasingly centered on crime and public safety, pitting Vallas’ tough-on-crime approach against the more reform-minded proposals of Johnson, who has called for the city to address the root causes of crime.

As the candidates make their final rounds, influencing voters along the way, North Central College political scientists are taking to the media spotlight to breakdown key elements behind the election. Caliendo and Dr. Suzanne Chod, professor of political science, have both participated in many interviews, where they’ve shared analysis on debates, campaign funds, and more.

Use the links below to watch the coverage:

Rice weighs in on latest ‘Best Cities for College Basketball Fans’ ranking in WalletHub

College basketball fans across the U.S. are watching one of the must-watch March Madness tournaments fans have witnessed in years. College basketball is a big deal in the U.S., and depending on where you live, it may have even more draw than the professional level does.

Dr. Jason Rice, associate professor and director of the sports management program, was quoted in WalletHub on what makes for a great college basketball city and how residents can ramp up their fandom without spending too much on betting.

“The beauty of college sports is the patchwork of fans,” said Rice. “There is the old guard that consumes the game the “old way”…turning down the volume on the national television broadcast, replacing the game call with the local radio station’s play-by-play. After the final buzzer, they remain tuned into the radio for the post-game call-in show where certain plays are dissected down to the smallest detail and there is always someone rallying support for the dismissal of the head coach. Then there is the younger generation who do not even know what the radio dial is. They follow athletes on social media and stream all the major matchups. All “good” fans have a passion for their teams/athletes and a connection stronger than wins an losses. This connection is the soul of college sports. The best fans ride through good times and bad.”

Read the full article on WalletHub.

North Central’s new parking pavilion featured on Naperville Community Television (NCTV17)

North Central College plans to construct a new parking pavilion on the south end of campus, on the site of the existing Merner surface lot also referred to as “the bowl” that sits directly across from the Merner Field House. The four-level parking pavilion will contain 530 spaces. Level 1 (116 spaces) will be designated as commuter/faculty/staff/visitor parking. And levels 2-4 (414 spaces) will be used for resident student parking.

Plans for the new parking center were created after analysis by the traffic and transportation planning and engineering firm Kenig, Lindgren, O’Hara, Abonna, Inc. (KLOA). The firm found that off-street parking locations are 90% occupied at peak, which warrants additional campus parking capacity.

Read the full story on the NCTV17 website.

Hamalis shares Ukraine’s need for justice and repentance in coming years with Catholic Register and Diocese of Tucson

One year later, the war in Ukraine has risen and fallen in the news cycle but remains an ever-pressing issue in Europe and abroad. Scholars, pundits, and public figures have done much to diagnose the ideological engines that drive the conflict, yet even the most careful public reflection fails to grasp the interrelationship between the religious and cultural forces in play.

The Lumen Christi Institute at University of Chicago held a panel discussion in late February, where it turned to Church leaders, international relations experts, scientists, and scholars fluent in the traditions of Christian East common to Russia and Ukraine—to explore principles that can aid the healing of trauma inflicted by the war.

Dr. Perry Hamalis, Cecelia Schneller Mueller Professor of Religion, was quoted by both the Catholic Register and Diocese of Tucson for his comments made as a panelist at the event.

“One of the most important components of the possibility for peace in the future has to be acknowledgement of responsibility and acts of genuine repentance, a willingness to see…and say, ‘We were wrong. We violated our identity, we apologize for what has happened, and we are eager to start fresh and move forward,’” said Hamalis.

Read the full article in the Catholic Register.

Read the full article from the Diocese of Tucson.


Caliendo and Muck provide commentary on International Criminal Court’s warrant for Putin on FOX 32 Chicago & WGN-TV

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in mid-March for war crimes related to the alleged abduction of children from Ukraine. The warrant was the first to be issued by the ICC for crimes committed in the Ukraine war, and it is one of the rare occasions when the court had issued a warrant for a sitting head of state, putting Putin in the company of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.

Putin is likely to evade justice in the near future, as Russia does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction, and insisted it was not affected by the warrant. But the Russian leader will face limits on his freedom to travel to the ICC’s 123 member states, further deepening his isolation.

Caliendo and Dr. William Muck, professor and chair of the political science department, interviewed with FOX 32 Chicago and WGN-TV respectively on this subject. Both shared commentary on the implications of the ICC’s arrest warrant and what the public should know.

Watch Caliendo’s full interview on FOX 32 Chicago.

Watch Muck’s full interview on WGN-TV.

Hamalis shares insights on what Catholic and Orthodox churches have to say about the Ukraine War in the National Catholic Reporter

The one-year anniversary of the Ukraine War has already come and gone, but as military efforts continue overseas, many have been left discussing the overall impact the war has on today’s society. Specifically, the religious implications.

In December, Hamalis was quoted in the National Catholic Reporter, where he shared commentary regarding what Catholic and Orthodox churches have to say about the war unfolding in Ukraine.

"From an Orthodox Christian perspective, every act of killing is an act of fratricide, thus every war is a fratricidal war. The additional fact, in the case of Ukraine, that Russia and Ukraine are nations whose citizens overwhelmingly self-identify as Christians, only amplifies the fratricidal nature of this horrific war," Hamalis explained. "The recent Russian-born Orthodox saint, St. Sophrony (Sakharov) the Athonite, writes, 'wars are sin par excellence' and he reiterates a broader teaching within Orthodox ethics, 'Life in the world is based on force, on violence. The Christian has the opposite aim. Force does not belong to eternal life. No act imposed by force can save us.'"

"Orthodox are much more skeptical of the ways that a 'theory' of just war can easily become either a way for states to propagandistically justify unjust wars or, perhaps more importantly, a way for soldiers to deceive themselves about the effects of war upon their hearts and minds," Hamalis continued. "Since, for the Orthodox, even a war that meets all the 'just war criteria' and that is fought according to just war principles does moral and spiritual damage to all who are involved."

Read the full story in the National Catholic Reporter.

North Central’s annual Chords for Kids concert featured in local and regional media

North Central College once again hosted its traditional Chords for Kids concert with its 16th annual performance. This one-of-a-kind experience welcomed children with special needs and their families to come and enjoy a night of music and fun. Adopting the motto, “Wiggles Welcome,” this free event encouraged children with special needs to be themselves at a concert where parents do not have to worry about typical concert etiquette. The concert featured sing-alongs from SpongeBob SquarePants and Disney, as well as classical pieces and line dance songs such as “YMCA” and “The Chicken Dance.”

Lawrence Van Oyen, professor of music and director of bands, was interviewed by WBBM-AM Newsradio, where he discussed the impact of an event like this.

"The concert's intended for the entire family to come so they can enjoy the music in a real welcoming environment. Our motto is 'wigglers welcome,” said Van Oyen.

Use the links below to watch the media coverage on this year’s annual concert: