When Barbara A. Farley, Ph.D. joined Illinois College as the 14th president in 2013, she brought a deeply rooted conviction that small liberal arts colleges, like Illinois College, are essential because of their ability to educate “the whole person” and prepare them to lead meaningful lives, empowered to make a difference in the world. She has spent nearly ten years actively working to support the students, faculty, and staff of Illinois College.

During her presidency, Illinois College has nearly completed Inspire Achievement: The Campaign for Illinois College, the most ambitious in the College’s history, and has achieved enrollment growth of 20%, leading the Detroit Free Press to name Illinois College ‘one of the fastest growing small liberal arts colleges in the nation.’ Under her leadership, student interest in and access to life-changing experiential learning opportunities — like global study abroad trips, student/faculty research, and internships— has grown. President Farley successfully led Illinois College through the pandemic, keeping the College safely open for student learning during the 2020-2021 academic year, encouraging faculty to develop creative hybrid teaching modalities, and ensuring “Community of Care” best practices. During her tenure, the College has continued to adapt to changing needs of the community and region, and recently developed an on-campus and online nursing program in partnership with area hospitals. She leads by example and encourages creative and adaptive solutions for complex challenges facing higher education today. 

In her journey to becoming the first female president of Illinois College, Dr. Farley had many valuable professional experiences at small, independent colleges. She taught and provided leadership at five such institutions since 1985, including her most recent role prior to IC, as vice president of academic affairs and dean of Augsburg University in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

President Farley works closely with other leaders in higher education to share ideas and develop the best strategies for preparing students for the challenges of 21st-century careers. She brings wisdom to her role cultivated during her studies at Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, where she earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in business administration. She is active nationally in higher education, currently serving as Chair of the Council of Independent Colleges Board of Directors and as Chair of the Midwest Conference. Farley is also invested in the future of healthcare in the region, serving on the Jacksonville Memorial Hospital Board of Directors and the Memorial Health Board of Directors. She served previously as president of the Associated Colleges of Illinois, as a member of the Tax Policy Committee for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and on the Executive Committee for the Federation of Illinois Independent Colleges and Universities. She also served as Chair of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities Board of Directors.