Annie Merner Chapel
|President||Dr. Mark Tierno|
|Affiliations||United Methodist Church|
Although founded in 1846 by a group of Methodist clergymen as the Illinois Conference Female Academy, the first class was not held until 1848. Since its beginnings, the college has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It is one of the oldest institutions of higher education originally for women in the United States.
The school was renamed the Illinois Conference Female College in 1851, with the name changed again to Illinois Female College in 1863 and Illinois Woman's College in 1899. The name was changed to MacMurray College for Women in 1930 to honor James E. MacMurray, who was an Illinois state senator, president of Acme Steel Corporation in Chicago, and college trustee whose commitment led to a substantial increase in the college's facilities and endowment in the late 1920s and 1930s.
The institution remained an exclusively women's college until 1955, when the trustees established MacMurray College for Men as a coordinate institution. In 1969, the colleges were reorganized into a single co-educational institution.
Reputation and rankings
MacMurray College was accredited from 1909 through 2014 by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, initially as the Illinois Women's College to 1930, and then as MacMurray. After the North Central Association dissolved in 2014, MacMurray's institutional accreditation has been through the Higher Learning Commission.
MacMurray College was ranked 63 of 200 colleges in the 2013 edition of U.S. News Best Colleges in Regional Colleges (Midwest) by U.S. News & World Report.
MacMurray has been ranked a Top 20 School in Washington Monthly magazine's ratings of colleges's "contribution to the public good", placing No. 14 in the nation in 2011 and No. 18 in 2013 among baccalaureate colleges, before falling to 80 in 2014.
However, MacMurray has struggled financially in recent years, having failed the U.S. Department of Education's annual financial responsibility test in 2011, 2012, and 2013, and in 2016 was placed on probation for a two-year period by its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, which cited "concerns related to governance, assessment of student learning, institutional resources, planning, and performance improvement.” 
In the 2013–14 academic year, MacMurray offered a 26-major, 16-minor liberal arts curriculum with both associate and bachelor's degrees. The school reinforces the liberal arts with an emphasis on professional preparation through academic majors that are career-focused. Some of the college's top majors include nursing, criminal justice, homeland security, deaf and hard-of-hearing education and American Sign Language interpreting, teacher preparation and social work. MacMurray’s deaf education and interpreter programs benefit from the College’s proximity to the Illinois School for the Deaf, also located in Jacksonville.
Beginning with the fall semester of 2014, MacMurray began offering online degrees in business administration and homeland security. Business administration offers concentrations in organizational leadership, entrepreneurship, human resource management, supply chain management, marketing and management. The homeland security major offers concentrations in counterterrorism, cyber security, emergency management and intelligence.
However, later in the fall of 2014, MacMurray announced it would phase out ten majors or minors with low enrollment and interest among prospective students, including history, English, Spanish, physical education, philosophy/religion and a chemistry minor.
The Center for Learning Excellence provides academic support to students outside of the classroom. Center for Learning Excellence staff members are certified by the Kellogg Institute for the Training and Certification of Developmental Educators.
MacMurray's athletic teams are known as the Highlanders. Teams compete in the NCAA's Division III. The football team is part of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. The College’s nine other men’s and women’s athletic teams compete in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Athletic teams include men's baseball, men's and women's basketball, football, men's and women's golf, men's and women's cross country, soccer, softball and volleyball.
The current athletic director is Scott McClure. He joined the College in July 2013. He was previously interim athletic director at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas and served for 12 years as a manager of championship sports for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in Kansas City, MO.
Thirty-five percent of MacMurray students are athletes. During the past three years, 45 MacMurray players were named to the Academic All-Conference Team, and 36 student-athletes were named to their respective All-Conference teams.
For the past two years, the men's basketball team competed in the SLIAC conference tournament. In 2012, the Highlanders narrowly missed winning the tournament and an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. MacMurray lost 58-56 to Westminster College on a three-point shot with 1.7 seconds remaining in the championship game.
MacMurray College is one of the few institutions to have received the NCAA "death penalty." In 2005 the men’s tennis team was sanctioned and prohibited from play for two years, with post-season play prohibited for a further two seasons, after coach and mathematics professor Neal Hart—with the knowledge of MacMurray's athletics director, and directors' of financial aid and finance—gave over $162,000 in financial assistance from a fund established by his father to 10 foreign-born players, in violation of Division III rules prohibiting athletic scholarships. MacMurray has not had a men's tennis program since that time.
In 2016, the school announced the return of its wrestling team after a ten-year hiatus. The school will also field a women's program and both programs will begin for the 2016-17 season.
The campus covers 60 acres (240,000 m2), and includes the administration building Kathryn Hall, the McClelland Dining Hall, the Annie Merner Chapel, the Henry Pfieffer Library, the educational buildings of MacMurray Hall, Julian Chemistry, the Putnam Center for the Arts, the William H. Springer Center for Music, the Education Complex, the Gordon Facilities building, and the five residence halls of Kendall, Norris, Michalson, Rutledge and Jane. Kendall and Norris were unoccupied during the 2009–10 school year while undergoing renovations that included sprinkler systems and aesthetic improvements. They reopened in the fall of 2010.
More than 30 student-led organizations are active on campus. The College encourages students to be active community members with 84% involved in community work or volunteering. Career Services facilitates work and internship experience. Over 70% of students complete internships facilitated by Career Services.
On June 16–17, 2011, MacMurray College suffered damage from widespread flooding that affected the entire eastern section of the City of Jacksonville. Several dormitories and the Education Complex (EC) were flooded. The Education Complex includes the Wall Gymnasium and the MacMurray swimming pool, which had been closed for maintenance. The college estimated the losses at approximately $2 million. On July 26, President Colleen Hester made a plea to all members of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the Methodist Church. This plea asked for funds to help cover the uninsured repair work necessary after the flooding. This includes a new gym floor in the Education Complex.
- Elaine Alquist, 1966 — California State Senator
- Raymond Bonner, 1964 — investigative journalist and author
- Nina Burleigh, 1982 — writer 
- Frank Carter — football player
- Judy Collins — four-time Grammy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, musician
- Christine Ebersole, BA 1971, PhD hon, 2002 — two-time Tony Award-winning actress 
- R. Thomas Flynn ,1964 — college administrator: dean at Rutgers University; president of Monroe Community College 
- Rick Hall, 1981 — actor, writer, producer 
- Sophronia Farrington Naylor Grubb, late 1850s — activist
- Al Lewis, 1984 — columnist: Dow Jones newswires 
- Olindo Mare — football kicker: Chicago Bears
- Larry J. McKinney, 1966 — federal judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
- Martha Capps Oliver (1845–1917), poet, hymnwriter
- George Whitmore, 1967 — author
- Cat Zingano — All-American wrestler; professional mixed martial arts fighter, currently competing in the UFC's bantamweight division
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