• 1893-1899

    1893: After more than a year of planning by the Western Advent Christian Publication Association, Mendota Seminary opened on January 9, 1893. Just six months later, the name was changed to Mendota College. The seminary opened with three students and grew to 31 students at the end of Winter Term.

    1894: Advent Christian women created The Helper’s Union, an organization designed to contribute food, linens, rugs, furniture and funds for decorating as needed. They were also influential raising funds for Mendota College’s Bible Training department.

    1899: Mendota College received its own charter after broadening its programs into a traditional liberal arts curriculum.

  • 1900-1909

    1900: Mendota College played its first football game against East Side High School in Mendota, Ill.

  • 1910-1919

    1911: Groundbreaking for a new campus in Aurora took place on May 31, 1911. The institution changed its name and formally incorporated as Aurora College in October.

    1912: Classes at Aurora College began on April 4, 1912. The campus consisted of Eckhart Hall, Wilkinson Hall and Davis Hall. The “Tin Can Jimmie Club” was formed to raise funds for the college endowment.

    1913: The men’s basketball team completed its first season with a final record of eight wins and four losses.

  • 1920-1929

    1922: The first constitution of the Students’ Association of Aurora College was written. It established a Finance Committee, Athletics Committee and a Committee on Societies.

    1929: The fall 1929 football team was the first to be called the Spartans. They played on Patterson Field, which was built by students five years earlier. The first Spartans had a season record of four wins and three losses.

  • 1930-1939

    1930: The Illinois Department of Public Instruction authorized Aurora College to train elementary and secondary school teachers, marking the beginning of one of the institution’s most successful and longest-standing academic programs.

  • 1940-1949

    1947: In an effort to serve veterans returning from World War II, Aurora College introduced an innovative evening program. The flexible schedules allowed former soldiers to earn a college degree while working full-time jobs.

  • 1950-1959

    1955: Campus facilities took a major step forward with the construction of the addition to Davis and Memorial Halls, which was dedicated on December 3, 1955. This was soon followed by the construction and dedication of Jenks Hall in 1957. These new spaces allowed the university to meet the growing demand for on-campus housing.

    1959: A new home for baseball, Snell Field, was dedicated in memory of Coach Percy Snell, the first coach hired by Aurora College. Snell had been the sole coach for all athletics programs for many years. The field hosted baseball games on the southwest corner of campus for nearly 50 years.

  • 1960-1969

    1962: Academic offerings were enriched with the opening of the Stephens Hall of Science and the Charles B. Phillips Library.

    1967: A new Carillon System was purchased, thanks to a generous gift from Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Harland Sanders.

  • 1970-1979

    1970: Two new buildings were dedicated: Watkins Hall, a residence hall; and Alumni Hall, which replaced the long-standing Quonset huts that had been used for the college’s athletics programs.

    1972: The last bachelor’s degree in theology was awarded, reflecting Aurora College’s independence from any particular religious denomination. Faith and service programs continued to flourish at the college.

    1978: The women’s basketball team completed its first season.

    1978: Recognizing the importance of the arts, Perry Theatre opened, adjacent to Stephens Hall.

  • 1980-1985

    1981: Two new building additions were made: a new dining facility was attached to Alumni Hall, and a new laboratory wing was added to Stephens Hall.

    1982: Aurora College joined the NCAA. Since that time, the Spartans have appeared in 58 NCAA Division III tournaments.

    1985: After decades of growth and expansion of academic programs, the institution changed its name from Aurora College to Aurora University. Graduate programs in education and business were offered.

  • 1986-1989

    1986: George Williams College, located in Downers Grove, Illinois, closed its doors and transferred its Social Work and LERA (Leisure and Environmental Resources Administration) programs to Aurora University.

    1986: The football program was reinstated after a 32-year hiatus.

    1989: Dunham Hall was dedicated, funded by the largest single donation in the history of the school, from Martha (Dunham) Schingoethe.

  • 1990-1995

    1990: The Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures, which houses the Schingoethe collection of more than 6,000 pieces of Native American arts, artifacts and related materials, opened.

    1992: Aurora University entered into an affiliation agreement with George Williams College to continue the legacy of its programs and the YMCA College Camp at the Williams Bay, Wisc., campus.

  • 1996-1999

    1997: The Geneva Lake campus of George Williams College began a period of expansion and renovation, with the acquisition of 91 additional acres of land, the establishment of a new conference center, and a number of enhancements to existing facilities.

  • 2000-2003

    2000: Aurora University and George Williams College formally merged. Music by the Lake, a successful summer performing arts festival from the mid-twentieth century, was re-established at GWC.

    2000: The university launched the Doctor of Education degree, the first doctoral program in the institution’s history.

    2001: The Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action was established, thanks to a generous bequest from Helena Zentmyer Wackerlin, a 1918 alumna of Aurora College.

    2003: Aurora University received a $10 million federal grant to create the Institute for Collaboration.

  • 2004-2007

    2006: The university opened its doors to the community with the establishment of the new Celebrating Arts and Ideas series.

    2006: Aurora University became a charter member of the Northern Athletics Conference.

    2007: In what would become a hallmark of the undergraduate experience, the university established the Crouse Center for Student Success, which helps students make the most of their time at AU.

  • 2008-2009

    2008: At GWC, the new Ferro Pavilion was completed in time for the eighth season of Music by the Lake. In Aurora, Vago Field was completed and hosted football and soccer games.

    2009: The first AU Honors Program students graduated.

    2009: AU began offering graduate courses at the Woodstock Center in Woodstock, Ill., through a partnership with the Challenger Center.

  • 2010-Today

    2010: A new addition to Alumni Hall was built, providing new, state-of-the-art facilities for the Nursing and Social Work programs. In Crimi Auditorium, the new pipe organ Opus 119 was installed, heralding the importance of the arts at AU.

    2011: Men’s lacrosse played their first varsity season in the Midwest Lacrosse Conference. Women’s lacrosse will begin play in 2013.

    2012: A new residence hall, located between the Institute for Collaboration and Watkins Hall, welcomed students for the spring semester. Throughout the year, the university will celebrate 100 years of the move from Mendota to Aurora.

Storytellers: Latest Additions  (View all)

Grayal Gilkey
Grayal Gilkey, Aurora College '64
Wray Howard
Wray Howard, George Williams College ’73
Ronald Bezanson
Ronald Bezanson, Aurora College ’59

In Your Words

The tough road that I took built my confidence, strengthened me and made me believe in myself.

— Michael Westfall, AU '94

Centennial Celebration Photos

Thanks to all who participated in the 100th anniversary of our move from Mendota to Aurora. Please take a moment to view Centennial photos and banquet recipes.


Alumni from around the country have submitted their memories and reflections through the Storytellers website. Read their submissions.

Tell Your Story

Attend one of our in-person events to share your story or tell us now.

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347. S. Gladstone Ave.
Aurora, Illinois 60506-4892