Monday, November 2, 2020

UIS Perspectives: Bold legacy, bold future

The following is an excerpt from a column by Charles J. Schrage and Jessie Burrell, Co-chairs of University of Illinois Springfield 50th Anniversary Steering Team. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 1, 2020.

It’s time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the University of Illinois Springfield!

With roots in Sangamon, the Bold Legacy began in 1970. At the time, the University had no permanent buildings, no traditions, and yet it possessed a bold, new vision for higher education, a public affairs mandate and a “blue memo” to build upon.

Dr. Larry Golden, professor emeritus and founding faculty member, helps connect those humble beginnings with today’s civically engaged University and student-centered educational mission. “UIS remains a university that continues to aspire to fulfill its original missions of public affairs and student centered teaching and learning. It has excellent, caring faculty who provide students the opportunity to gain a superb education and to grow and thrive as active citizens,” Golden said.

Alumna Karen Hasara exemplifies civic engagement and leadership. She is a retired member of the UI Board of Trustees, and among the founding graduates of the University. “The fall of 1970 opened new doors for so many of us at this brand new educational institution called Sangamon State University. Its vision was indeed bold,” Hasara said.

A rebirth of the University formally began on July 1, 1995. The merger of Sangamon State University with the University of Illinois System accelerated growth and innovation going into a new millennium, enabling the university’s academic excellence to be shared throughout the world.

The late 1990s saw university innovation in its truest form. Faculty utilized newly discovered technologies to harness the growing power of the internet, thereby expanding teaching and learning well beyond traditional “bricks and mortar” classrooms. UIS online classes were among the nation’s very first. Today, UIS online programs are recognized among the nation’s very, very best!

In 2001, the university welcomed its first freshman class with introduction of the Capital Scholars Honors Program.

This anniversary also provides an opportunity to look forward, and celebrate the Bright Future, and promise, which public higher education holds. The Bright Future enabled by outcomes of UIS’ Innovate Springfield business and social innovation hub; the Bright Future of our community enabled by the university’s commitments to diversity, inclusion and social justice. Enabling pursuit of the Bright Future for so many students is the Reaching Stellar fundraising campaign, with well over 100,000 private gifts already made in support of the $40 million goal.

As you likely expect, UIS is “creatively pivoting” its anniversary celebration. Every reasonable precaution is being taken to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community. We are United in Safety for your protection, and the protection of students, faculty and staff.

The 50th Anniversary souvenir issue of UIS Today magazine will be published later this month, featuring unique, historic and forward thinking content. UIS social media and the web feature nostalgic content with “flashback” historical photos and videos..

Read the entire column online.