Dr. Richard Becker, the First Layman President in the History of Illinois Benedictine College, Passes Away

June 11, 2018

Dr. Richard BeckerBenedictine Statement on Dr. Richard Becker

President of Illinois Benedictine College, 1976 to 1995
“We were very saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Richard Becker. Dr. Becker’s dedication to students and commitment to higher education for young people is a lasting legacy and a guidepost for our continued work. He was an ambitious fundraiser, an innovative administrator and an uplifting leader. Generations of Benedictine students are better off because he worked so hard for what he believed. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones as well as all in the Benedictine community who had the opportunity to work with him throughout the years. He will be sorely missed but well remembered.”

To view Dr. Becker’s obituary, click here.

Benedictine Accomplishments

  • Dr. Richard Becker was the first layman president in the history of Illinois Benedictine College.
  • Originally an IBC trustee from 1973-76, Dr. Becker, took office in 1976 serving for 18 years, retiring in June 1995.
  • During his first several months on the job, he helped open the Dan and Ada Rice Center in style by persuading the Harlem Globetrotters to open their season in the new facility.
  • Helped start the first masters program at IBC in business administration.
  • During his presidency enrollment nearly doubled from 1,400 students in 1976 to approximately 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in 1994.
  • Played a key role in raising $5.6 million dollars to build the Krasa Center and was a part of many development projects that benefited students including securing four Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grants totaling $2.5 million dollars to give minority students an opportunity to pursue a career in health sciences.
  • In 1980 led an effort to allow Benedictine to become the first college in Chicago’s western suburbs to begin an International Business and Economics program to give working adults and students a background in cultures other than their own, and to develop skills for effective careers in international marketing and finance.
  • Started the Ladders for Learning initiative, an award-winning business/education partnership where college students tutored disadvantaged people in junior high school.
  • Prior to being hired as president, the Alumni Association recognized him for his contributions to the college by making him an honorary alumnus.
  • Dr. Becker placed a high emphasis on teaching excellence and maintaining rigorous academic standards which resulted in nationally ranked undergraduate science programs and world-wide recognition of the Management and Organizational Behavior graduate program.

From the 1993-94 Illinois Benedictine College Annual Report on Dr. Becker

“I never met anyone who could stand up to the pressures of his job, with such style and grace. It is an honor to know him.”

Dick Locher
Editorial Board Member
Chicago Tribune

“My favorite impression of Dr. Becker is his loyalty and consistency in his years as president of the College. I have seldom come across anyone with his sense of dedication and responsibility. Illinois Benedictine has prospered exceptionally well under his direction. He should have a permanent and important place in the history of the institution.”

Most Rev. Daniel W. Kucera O.S.B.
Archbishop of Dubuque

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Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the eighth consecutive year in 2018. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.

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