On April 5, 1956, a visionary group of young business leaders recognizing the need for a Christian college in the Chicagoland area proclaimed, “Now is the time to organize.” They then faced the questions of how, where, and when to begin. The answer:
“If we begin with Christ and continue with Christ, we have the assurance that we will be blessed.”
(Junior College Society newsletter, 1956)
The founders began Trinity Christian College for many of the same reasons other colleges exist—but they envisioned an even deeper mission. What Trinity lives for is to be a place from which God can call followers who will do, not simply believe. Who will not just be Christians, but who will live their Christianity boldly.
From Golf Course to College Courses
The first board of trustees was elected in 1959, and they purchased the Navajo Hills Golf Course in suburban Palos Heights, Illinois, for the campus. After remodeling the former clubhouse and pro shop, the then two-year college opened that fall with a class of 37 students taught by five faculty members.
In 1966, the board initiated the process for the College to become a four-year, degree-granting institution. The first baccalaureate degrees were awarded in May 1971.
Building on the Foundation of Reformed Christianity
Trinity welcomes and serves students from a wide range of denominations and traditions. The College’s roots, however, are found in Reformed Christianity, a historical connection that is both foundational and pervasive today. “Our heritage is the historic Christian faith as it was reshaped in the Reformation, and our fundamental basis of governance and instruction is the infallible Word of God as interpreted by the Reformed standards.” (excerpt from the Mission Statement)
At the Core
The original curriculum of Trinity focused substantially on philosophy, history, English, and theology. While the core curricular requirements of Trinity have evolved over the years, a continuing focus on the liberal arts has been maintained. Moreover, areas of specialization have expanded to include over 40 programs and majors, including the professional areas of business, education, nursing, and criminal justice. From the beginning and continuing today, students learn from dedicated professors who integrate a Christian worldview into their pedagogy and the curriculum.
The Adult Studies Accelerated Program was added in 1999 and offers degrees in business, education, and special education. In addition to classes on the main Trinity campus, the program also has centers in Addison and downtown Chicago. The satellite locations reflect not only the College’s physical growth but also an expanding awareness of the role and responsibilities the College assumes in its service to the larger Chicago community and the world.
Growth of the Campus and Facilities
The College celebrated its 50th anniversary in October 2009. The College has been blessed with strong growth in the student body, curriculum, and buildings since 1959, as evidenced by the addition of these facilities in the past decade alone:
2001: The College dedicates the Martin and Janet Ozinga Chapel with the 46-rank pipe organ dominating the stage of the 1,189-seat auditorium.
2002: The Heritage Science Center opens, providing 38,000 square feet of classrooms, lab space, and a lecture hall.
2004: Trinity pauses to celebrate and give thanks for the completion of Alumni Hall.
2008: The Bootsma Bookstore Café is dedicated, honoring former College president Dr. Ken Bootsma (1984-1996) and Jan André Bootmsa.
2008: The long-envisioned 44,000-square-foot Art and Communication Center is dedicated.
2009: Plans for the expansion of the gym coincide with development of the new Rt. 83 athletic fields.
The ever-changing face of Trinity’s campus will continue to expand and improve in the future, reflecting the heritage of its founders and the vision of its leaders.
Alexander De Jong, Th.D., 1966-1968 (deceased 2003)
Gordon Werkema, Ed.D., 1969-1973
Dennis Hoekstra, B.D., Ed.D., 1973-1979
Derke Bergsma, Rel.D., 1979-1980, Acting
Gerard Van Groningen, Ph.D., 1980-1984, Emeritus (deceased 2014)
Kenneth Bootsma, Ed.D., 1984-1996, Emeritus
AJ Anglin, Ph.D., 1996-2002
Anthony Diekema, Ph.D., 2002-2003, Interim
Steven Timmermans, Ph.D., 2003-2014
Elizabeth Rudenga, Ph.D., 2014-present, Interim