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Collective wisdom of George Williams College

Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published Oct. 22, 2007, 4:05 p.m.)

Ask 10 people a question and you'll usually get 10 different answers.

But when Sandra Alcorn started asking questions to George Williams College (GWC) alumni, she noticed right away that she was getting very similar answers.

Alcorn, of Glen Ellyn, Ill., was a GWC faculty member for 15 years and dean of Aurora University's School of Social Work for 17 years when GWC became a part of Aurora University.

The idea to write Strong Roots: A Group Memoir of George Williams College, came to Alcorn in 1984 during a personal and professional crisis when the Downers Grove, Ill. campus closed.

"Nobody left. Nobody transferred," she said. "We got organized and said, 'This is not over for us.'"

The faculty and students from the leisure and environmental resources administration and the social work division banded together and kept themselves alive at the Williams Bay campus.

Seeing and being a part of that kind of dedication made Alcorn decide this story needed to be told.

She asked over 100 GWC alumni to tell her about their experiences with the school. Ironically, their answers naturally fell into the five chapters of the book that also followed the principles of their studies: service; relationship in community; learning-by-doing approaches; regard for the whole person in body, mind and spirit; and a disposition to learn and serve through diverse local and global ties.

The stories also closely matched that of the YMCA, founded by George Williams in 1844.

The 261-page book of memoirs and historical photographs is available for $30, at www.aurora.edu/strongroots or by calling (630) 844-5486.

Alcorn will have a book signing Oct. 27, 1-4 p.m. at in George Williams College of Aurora University, Lewis Hall, 350 Constance Blvd., Williams Bay.


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