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Northwestern Remembers Billy Graham

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


February 21, 2018 – The University of Northwestern – St. Paul and Northwestern Media community mourns the loss of the Reverend Billy Graham, the university’s second president and founder of KTIS, who passed away on this morning, February 21 at the age of 99. We rejoice in knowing that he is now home with the Lord and Savior he loved and served. 

“Reverend Graham held a special place in the heart of Northwestern,” said Dr. Alan Cureton, president of University of Northwestern. “He will be forever remembered as one of the school’s most influential presidents and a key figure of the college’s history.” 

In December 1947, Northwestern’s founder, Dr. W.B. Riley chose America’s young evangelist Billy Graham, then 29 years old, to succeed him as president of Northwestern Schools, as it was known at the time. Graham served as president of Northwestern from 1948 to 1952, a period including the famous 1949 Los Angeles evangelistic crusade, which catapulted the young preacher and his growing family into the national spotlight.

Although Graham’s time at Northwestern was relatively brief, the college continues to be blessed by his impact to this day. Perhaps the greatest legacy left during Grahams’ tenure includes the 1949 launch of KTIS, the Twin Cities Christian radio station owned and operated by Northwestern Media, a ministry of University of Northwestern. 

A fitting tribute

Northwestern recognized Billy Graham for his significant contributions to the organization by naming its newest building the “Billy Graham Community Life Commons.” At an official groundbreaking celebration on October 2, 2009, Graham’s daughters Gigi and Ruth brought greetings on behalf of their father. 

“This weekend is about legacy and the ongoing legacy,” said Ruth Graham. “His [Billy Graham’s] legacy is not in buildings—although this is wonderful—his legacy is in lives. This building, this place, this college is going to affect lives for years and years to come. The legacy continues.”

Opening in summer 2011, the Billy Graham Community Life Commons was officially dedicated on October 7, 2011, with Graham’s grandson Rev. William Franklin Graham IV present for the dedication celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

At the dedication, Will Graham shared a letter sent by his grandfather to the Northwestern community. “I never dreamed back then in 1952 the great things God had in store for Northwestern,” Rev. Graham wrote. “We have seen Him expand and bless the college and its outreach. To God be the glory–great things He has done!”

As a community, we will always remember the legacy of Billy Graham and pray God’s comfort to his family and those everywhere who were touched by his wonderful life and ministry.