Illinois College is a private liberal arts institution in Jacksonville, Illinois USA. The college was founded in 1829 by a group of seven students from Yale university, known as the ‘Illinois Band’ who had headed westwards with the intention of starting new places of higher education. The initial proposal for the college was made by missionary Rev. John M. Ellis who was a Presbyterian and it was Rev. Ellis who originally attracted the ‘Illinois Band’ to come to Jacksonville to help found the college there. The first two students graduated from the college in 1835 and one went on to become governor of the state while the other was a composer. Many influential writers, thinkers and politicians visited the campus to speak, including Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde. The college was part of the abolitionist movement and its central building, Beecher Hall, is thought to have been part of the Underground Railroad, helping slaves to freedom.
Today Illinois College is a thriving coeducational liberal arts college which retains its to the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ. There are around one thousand students studying for undergraduate bachelor’s degrees. There are around 80 different programs on offer and students have the option of studying interdisciplinary or combined majors programs. The university also offers undergraduate research schemes for students who want to specialise in a unique interest or area of study during their time at Illinois College.
The college campus covers 80 acres in the centre of Jacksonville and is divided into two areas called the upper and lower quads. There are green lawns and tree lined walks linking historic college buildings. The campus has a coffee shop, library and fine arts centre as well as the usual academic, administration and residential buildings. There are also soccer pitches, softball fields and a gymnasium for students.