The Story of Olivet Nazarene University

Established in 1907

Here, at one of the nation’s premier Christian universities, we believe higher education should have a higher purpose.

With accredited programs, award-winning academics, and a faculty touting degrees from a wide spectrum of world-class educational institutions, Olivet stands committed to integrating faith and learning.

Nestled in the historic village of Bourbonnais, Illinois, Olivet students gain knowledge and wisdom, and secure degrees that place them ahead of the pack, with portfolios and experience as evidence of an “Education With a Christian purpose.”

Northwest campus entrance to ONU

Olivet at a Glance

Located in Bourbonnais, Illinois, Olivet’s facilities offer leading-edge technology and historic landmarks.

Degrees include:

  • Associate
  • Bachelor’s
  • Master’s
  • Doctoral

Acre Campus

Acres of beautiful, park-like grounds



(2,525 undergraduate) students


Fields of Study

Gregg Chenoweth official headshot


Dr. Gregg Chenoweth, President

Gregg Chenoweth graduated from Olivet in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. He served as the president of Bethel University since 2013. Dr. Chenoweth has published works in nearly 30 media outlets and previously served as the vice president for academic affairs at Olivet.

ONU Leadership Team

Smiling female student
Photo of Eternal Flame
Group of students conversing in front of Birchard Gymnasium
Detail photo of florals

5 Year University Priorities (PAVER)

Olivet Nazarene University has a rich tradition of faith and a strong desire to press forward into God’s plan for our future.

Solomon counseled, “Plans are established by seeking advice” (Prov. 20:18). Over the past few months, more than 600 people have met to discover ONU’s five-year priorities. In a show of unity, four different bodies representing more than 100 people endorsed this plan unanimously. Not just our plans blessed by God, but God’s plans for us.

Learn More about PAVER

“Plans are established by seeking advice”

Olivet Magazine on table

Read All About It

Our very own award-winning Olivet The Magazine features articles from outstanding writers and first-person accounts from students, alumni and friends. Published quarterly, the magazine also includes inspirational words from university president.

Read Olivet The Magazine Online

A Rich History

Olivet Nazarene University traces its roots to 1907, beginning in 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 and a Wesleyan-holiness community developed around it.

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, it was renamed Olivet University in 1915.

In 1939, the main building on the southern Illinois campus was destroyed by fire and prompted the school to move onto the previous campus of St. Viator’s College, in Bourbonnais, Illinois. The school’s name was changed in 1986 to Olivet Nazarene University (ONU), to express the advanced academic offerings.

Since then, the University has thrived. In the early 21st century, the campus blossomed with the acquisition of 61 buildings and the remodeling of 27 buildings to enhance the student experience. Through technology upgrades, expanded academic offerings and increased student support services, Olivet has become a premier institution of Christian higher education that is consistently recognized as a College of Distinction, a Best Christian Workplace and regularly ranking in the U.S. News Best College annual report.


Image of Eternal Flame

We Believe

At Olivet, learning and faith go hand in hand.

The University affirms that all truth is God’s truth, and therefore, cannot be segmented into secular and non-secular categories and departments.

Read Our Statement of Faith


A Hymn to Olivet by Ed Nash

International Church of the Nazarene

At Olivet Nazarene University, students experience the warmth, faith and strong sense of purpose that is characteristic of our parent denomination — the International Church of the Nazarene.

The Church of the Nazarene is a Protestant, Christian denomination in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. Organized in 1908, the Church of the Nazarene is now home to more than two million members worshiping in more than 26,000 local congregations in 156 world areas.

College Church of the Nazarene, founded in 1949, sits at the campus entrance where many community members choose to worship. More than 40 different denominations are represented among the student body, and students are encouraged to attend the church of their choice.

Church of the Nazarene

students in lecture ONU

Where Your Future Begins

We Believe. You Belong Here. Discover why Olivet is a place where faith meets calling. Take the first step today.

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