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Olivet Nazarene University

Olivet Nazarene University (ONU) is a Christian liberal arts university located in the village of Bourbonnais, Illinois, United States. Named for Olivet, Illinois, ONU was originally established as a grammar school in east-central Illinois in 1907. It is affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene and is the annual site of the Church's "Regional Celebrate Life" youth gathering for the Central USA Region. It is one of the largest members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.


One University Avenue


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Additional Information

College Type
Religious Affiliation
Church of the Nazarene
Campus Housing
Toby The Tiger
Purple Gold
Mid-States Football Assn

College History


Olivet Nazarene University traces its roots to 1907, when the Eastern Illinois Holiness Association started Miss Mary Nesbitt's grammar school in a house in Georgetown, Illinois. In 1908, the school's founders acquired 14 acres in the village of Olivet, and moved the grammar school to the proposed campus. A Wesleyan�holiness community sprang up around the school. In 1909, the liberal arts college was chartered and named Illinois Holiness University, with A. M. Hills from Texas Holiness University as its first president. It was then given to the Church of the Nazarene in 1912, with E. F. Walker as president, and inherited one of the most populated Nazarene regions in the United States. It was renamed Olivet University in 1915,and again in 1921 to Olivet College. The economic solvency of the school became a problem in the 1920s, and the trustees were forced to declare bankruptcy in 1926. The school's treasurer, T. W. Willingham, purchased the school back at an auction and was elected president. In 1939, the main building on campus was destroyed by fire. This prompted the school to look for a new location. Under President A.L. Parrott, the school moved in 1940, onto the previous 42-acre (170,000 m2) campus of St. Viator's College. With the move, the school's name was changed to Olivet Nazarene College (ONC).The school's name was changed again in 1986 to Olivet Nazarene University (ONU). The past twenty years have been marked by a massive change in the culture and image of Olivet. Following the appointment of John C. Bowling as University president, the university began appealing to a more diverse set of students from different Christian denominations. The school began several different construction projects to mark the growth of the school as a whole. The university has also recently subdivided itself into one college and four schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Professional Studies, School of Theology and Christian Ministry, and the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies.

College Specialty


Mission Statement We believe education should have a higher purpose. Design for Educational Excellence We believe in liberal arts education, specialized training and the preparation of lives for service�within a Christian context. History of the University We believe in the nearly 100-year-old foundation laid by families dedicated to Christian education. Statement of Faith We believe faith is an integral part of education.



Kendall Blanchard, President of Georgia Southwestern State University. John C. Bowling, President of Olivet Nazarene University. Cecil Crawford, early financier of Ticketmaster. Paul Cunningham, former General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene. James Diehl, former General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene. R. Wayne Gardner, notable Nazarene minister and president emeritus of Eastern Nazarene College. Stephen Gould, a heldentenor. J. Kenneth Grider, American theologian and Methodism professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary. Adam Kotsko, author, translator and professor of humanities at Shimer College. Mike Overy, former baseball player for the California Angels. Stephen A. Parke, semiconductor device researcher and professor of electrical engineering at Northwest Nazarene University. Les Parrott, a professor of clinical psychology for Seattle Pacific University, author, and motivational speaker. Kelli Reisen, Christian musician, associated with John Elefante. Brian Woodworth, former congressional candidate for Illinois's 2nd congressional district. Ben Zobrist, baseball player for the Tampa Bay Rays.



Suburban 250 acres (1.0 km2)