Our Rich Academic History | Kendall College
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Celebrating 80 Years of Rich Academic History

In 1934, at the height of the Great Depression, the leaders of a Swedish seminary and a Danish-Norwegian seminary located in downtown Evanston agreed to merge their assets and form the Evanston Collegiate Institute. The two seminaries and the preparatory school were sponsored by a Scandinavian Conference of the Methodist Church, as was the new junior college. Its purpose was to provide, in a Christian environment, two years of college education to young people who could not have afforded to go to college except through the distinctive work-study program offered by the new school.

In 1950, Evanston Collegiate Institute changed its name to Kendall College in honor of the late Curtis P. Kendall and the Kendall family. His father, Harry R. Kendall, and his uncle, George R. Kendall, both founders of the Washington National Insurance Company of Evanston, provided financial support to the College and, through their company, employed many Kendall work-study students.

During its first ten years, Kendall offered a strong junior college curriculum with programs organized on a work-study basis. The system enabled students without sufficient funds for school to begin college without going into debt. Through the late 1970s, Kendall provided the preliminary two years of a liberal arts education for students interested in transferring to other institutions to earn a bachelor’s degree, and select two-year degree programs, permitting students to enter directly into career fields. Kendall College added four-year degrees in 1977 and gained full accreditation as a baccalaureate degree granting institution in 1979. Since 1962 Kendall College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), www.ncahlc.org, 1-312-263-0456.

In 1985, the School of Culinary Arts was launched beginning with an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences-the brainchild of Dr. Albert Furbay and a cadre of visionary chef-educators. With its first graduating class in 1987, Kendall’s reputation as a quality Midwest training center producing talented culinarians began to grow. Building on the success of the culinary program, a Bachelor of Arts in Hotel and Restaurant Management was launched in 1987. Revised into a Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Management in 2005, the program focus broadened to teach the art of hospitality and the science of management. The program also formed a strategic partnership with the internationally acclaimed Les Roches International School of Hotel Management. This partnership established exchange programs with Les Roches campuses in Switzerland and Spain. In 2009, this partnership was restructured with the Les Roches Institute of Higher Education with the offering of a joint degree program and expanded international internship opportunities for students.

While business programs at Kendall College began in the 1970s, a new business curriculum was launched in 2007 to build on the College’s reputation for service excellence and professionalism. Through a combination of theory, analytic frameworks, and situation-based learning, the business program grounds students in the fundamentals of management while developing skills of professional judgment.

The two-year Early Childhood Education program was first offered when Kendall was a junior college. The program has expanded as Kendall developed into a four-year institution. In 1994, Kendall launched a B.A. in Early Childhood Education leading to Illinois Type 04 Teacher Training Certification, along with a non-certification B.A. program. Today, the School of Education has established Kendall College as a leader in the Early Childhood Education field in Illinois.

The School of Education also facilitated the entrance of Kendall College into online delivery of coursework. Today, Kendall has also integrated online learning into its Business, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management programs. These flexible programs support Kendall’s historic and continuing mission to provide access to higher education for all students.

For 70 years (1934-2004), the College was located on a single square block in the city of Evanston, one block away from Northwestern University. Faced with aging facilities offering limited room for expansion, Kendall College took radical steps to ensure a viable future. In 2003, the College acquired the Riverworks site in downtown Chicago. In January 2005, construction on the modern facility was completed and the entire College was moved to the downtown Chicago location.

The move downtown represented a rebirth for the College and has allowed Kendall to serve a much broader community. With immediate access to the wealth of Chicago businesses, restaurants, hospitality venues, schools, internship opportunities, and rich culture, Kendall now integrates world-class resources with a personal touch and caring environment. The new location, dynamic programs, international ties and growing reputation have resulted in the largest student body in College history.

Throughout the history of Kendall College, the institution has capitalized on service, access and innovation to inspire and nurture student passions for professional leadership and success in a service-oriented and global work place. With more than 1800 current students, Kendall continues to refine and sharpen its focus, seeking new ways to serve students and the broader College community.

In July 2008, the school became a member of Laureate International Universities, a global network of more than 75 institutions in 29 countries that currently offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs to 900,000 students worldwide. Through this partnership, Kendall students have access to study abroad programs, internships, and professional opportunities in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Australia.

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