EUREKA, Ill. — Eureka College will introduce Dr. Jamel Santa Cruze Wright as the 27th president in the institution’s 163-year history at a 1:30 p.m. news conference on Tuesday, July 11 inside the Donald B. Cerf Center. Wright has served as interim president of Eureka College since July 1, 2016.
“Dr. Wright has exhibited the leadership necessary to lead Eureka College,” said Bill King, Chairman of the Eureka College Board of Trustees. “She made the position her own over the past 12 months, working to improve the College while reaching out to build relationships with new partners. Her vision and approach to the future will make Eureka College a better place, and her appointment aligns with the College’s mission and vision for success.”
Eureka College, chartered in 1855 and founded by abolitionists, was the first in Illinois and the third in the nation to admit men and women on an equal basis and is the smallest college to graduate a future President of the United States.
Accomplishments at Eureka College
Wright presided over a transformational year at Eureka College that saw growth within Eureka’s mission of furthering excellence and opportunities in learning, service and leadership. She introduced The Uniquely Eureka Advantage, a program offering innovative commitments to incoming students including graduation in four years, a four-year tuition freeze, an experiential learning award to all new students and opportunities to study abroad. She has collaborated with the faculty to design a new curriculum to better prepare students for rewarding careers and meaningful lives. Additionally, she presided over one of the most successful accreditation processes in the history of the College.
Under Wright’s leadership the College also implemented improvements to academic and athletic facilities, including enhancements to Vennum-Binkley Hall, the installation of an artificial turf field and lighting system at McKinzie Field, and plans for a renovated Wellness Center at the Reagan Athletic Complex.
Wright has successfully represented Eureka College with a personal presence outside the campus community leading to ground-breaking relationships with a variety of constituents. The College established a partnership with Quest Charter Academy in Peoria, Ill. that will emphasize programming for first-generation college students. Wright’s personal story aligns with the program, as she was the first in her family to receive a college degree, and she will lead a college in which 46 percent of the students are first generation.
“I am thrilled and deeply honored to be appointed as President and continue leading this extraordinary and uniquely transformational liberal arts institution,” said Dr. Jamel Wright. “We accomplished several noteworthy things this past year, and I am grateful to have such an amazing and supportive campus community to help build on and ensure our success in the years to come.”
Additionally, Wright worked to create a partnership with The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute that will give students the opportunity to participate in a leadership and internship program in Washington, D.C. or Simi Valley, Calif. that includes scholarship funds to support the experience. She has established a new partnership with the Institute for Politics at the University of Chicago and new relationships with local school districts, elected officials and other organizations that share Eureka’s values of learning, service and leadership.
Wright has nearly two decades of experience in higher education as an administrator and full-time faculty member. A native of St. Louis, Mo., she arrived ‘Neath The Elms in 2014 as the College’s first chief diversity officer and also served as vice president for strategic and diversity initiatives.
Wright received a doctorate and a master’s degree, both from the University of Kansas, and a bachelor’s degree from Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo., all in communication studies.