Elmhurst College Serves Students, Community

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Byline: Desiree Chen Elmhurst College

As a new academic year begins at Elmhurst College, the atmosphere is new and fresh as well.

First-year students are settling in at the college's picturesque arboretum campus, making friends, starting classes, and learning to live away from home for the first time.

Things also are getting into full swing at the new School for Professional Studies, a division of Elmhurst College that offers innovative, exceptional academic programs to busy, working adults who want a better future.

And for the lifelong learner, Elmhurst's highly regarded lecture season is getting under way with a new theme for 2012-13 -- Science, Technology and Society -- and topics ranging from cyberbullying and Internet safety to bioethics and the common good.

While Elmhurst long has been known for the quality of its traditional undergraduate education -- the college consistently ranks among the best in the Midwest, according to annual surveys by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review -- both the School for Professional Studies and the college's lecture series are distinctive and powerful ways for Elmhurst to serve not only the campus community but the greater community.

Established in the spring, the School for Professional Studies offers accelerated undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs to nontraditional students -- working adults and others who don't fit the mold of the traditional, 18- to 22-year-old full-time college student.

New programs will expand Elmhurst's current array of offerings for adult and graduate students, with areas of study running the gamut from business to the computer sciences, education to the health professions, and more on the way.

The courses and programs align with the mission of the college, meet the needs of employers and, most importantly, are tailor-made for this fast-growing student population. Because flexibility and innovation are crucial to serving these students well, the school will offer programs online and on campus.

Courses and programs also may be offered in off-campus satellite locations around the Chicago area, or in accelerated semesters, or they may start multiple times a year.

"This is a moment of great opportunity for our college," says Elmhurst College President S. Alan Ray. "The School for Professional Studies will be distinguished by its unyielding commitment to academic quality and its constant focus on serving the needs of nontraditional students."

When Ray took office in 2008 as the 13th president of the college, one of his first acts was to lead the campus to develop what would become the most comprehensive strategic plan in its history. …