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Illinois 101

101 Favorite Things about
the University of Illinois

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1. Blue WatersExpected to come online in 2011, Blue Waters at NCSA will be the most powerful supercomputer openly available to the scientific research community.
2. Illini 4000Starting in 2007, a team of Illinois students has organized a cross-country bicycling trip (about 4000 miles) as a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society and Camp Kesem.
3. Panera Bread on Green StreetMy favorite "fast casual" restaurant has a location on Green Street, near the corner of Wright Street, in campustown. From the seats at the front window, you can see the Alma Mater statue.
4. NCSAThe National Center for Supercomputing Applications supports compute-intensive research activities at the University of Illinois and many other schools.
5. Nobel prize winnersA number of alumni and faculty members have received awards such as the Nobel prize, as well as Pulitzers, Academy Awards, and others.
6. men's tennis teamThe men's tennis team swept the 2003 NCAA championships, winning the team title, as well as the individual singles and doubles championships.
7. Jack KilbyAlumnus Jack Kilby received the Nobel Prize for the invention of the integrated circuit.
8. Foundation weekendThe annual meeting of the Univerisity of Illinois Foundation, on a football weekend each autumn, provides an opportunity to celebrate the private donations that are so critical to maintaining the University's excellence.
9. Final Four, 2005The men's basketball team had their best run ever, losing to North Carolina in the NCAA championship game. We had about 150 people at our alumni club's game-watching party in Manhattan that night.
10. School of Music jazz programNumerous jazz ensembles perform at Krannert as well as at local clubs.
11. Engineering Open HouseEOH is an annual event (somewhat like a science fair) showcasing the various departments in the College of Engineering. Among other things, its aim is to introduce science and engineering to future students.
12. alphabetical orderIn the Big Ten conference -- even with eleven members, or twelve, or fourteen (starting in 2014) -- Illinois comes first alphabetically, so they always appear at the top of pre-season conference standings in every sport. :-)
13. Block IBlock I is the card-flashing section within the student section of the football stadium.
14. EbertFestStarted by alumnus Roger Ebert in 1999, the annual film festival is held in downtown Champaign at the historic Virginia theatre, with additional events on campus.
15. Undergraduate LibraryThe Undergraduate Library is totally underground, so as not to throw shade on the adjacent Morrow Plots.
16. Red GrangeA statue on the west side of Memorial Stadium depicts Red Grange, who in 2008 was ranked #1 on ESPN's list of top 25 players in college football history. He went on to play for the Chicago Bears in the early years of the NFL; the Bears played their home games here in 2002 during their stadium renovation.
17. Engineering Student Alumni AmbassadorsESAA is an organization of engineering students that organizes several activities to connect students and alumni.
18. CS scholarshipsA variety of scholarships and awards recognize the many achievements of, and provide financial assistance to, our Computer Science students. [*2013]
19. historical markersA number of historical markers are located around campus to mark various events, discoveries, and innovations. [*2013]
20. TechnographThe Technograph, the engineering student magazine, traces its history to 1885.
21. Legends and Lore of Illinois - ghosts, etc.A number of ghost stories have developed over the years regarding various campus locations.
22. alumni clubsLocal alumni clubs are a great way to meet other alumni and keep in touch with the University. I was active in the New York club for many years.
23. women's volleyballThe women's volleyball varsity team plays in Huff Hall, and has a great booster club (which I joined in 2012). In the fall of 2011, they lost to UCLA in the NCAA tournament championship game. [*2013]
24. College of EngineeringThe College of Engineering is one of the top few schools in the nation, and most of the individual departments are also among the best in their fields.
25. Four colors sufficeThe four-color map theorem, which had stood as a conjecture for more than a century, was finally proved by researchers at the University, with the help of computers.
26. The Daily IlliniThe DI has been the independent student newspaper at the University since 1871.
27. Allerton Music Barn FestivalAn old barn on the Allerton park property has been converted to use for an occasional music festival.
28. Computer Science departmentThe Computer Science department was one of the nation's best CS departments when I was a student in the 1970s, and it's still ranked near the top 30 years later.
29. Siebel CenterThe Siebel Center opened in 2004 as the new home of the Computer Science department.
30. Krannert Center for the Performing ArtsThe Krannert Center is an exceptional performing arts venue, featuring the school's music, theater, and dance students, as well as marquee performers from around the world. Some years ago, it was the preferred recording location for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra because of the excellent acoustics in the Great Hall.
31. LEDThe visible-spectrum light emitting diode (LED) was invented by Nick Holonyak, while working at General Electric. In addition to being an alumnus, he served on the faculty for nearly 50 years -- holding the John Bardeen chair in the departments of electrical engineering and physics, until his retirement in 2013.
32. Ikenberry CommonsThe Champaign residence halls (where I lived as a student) are undergoing extensive renovation during the decade of the 2010s. The whole area has been named to honor Stan Ikenberry, who was President of the University from 1979 to 1995, and stepped in as interim President in 2010.
33. Women in Computer ScienceThe WCS student group provides an opportunity for female CS students to support each other in a field that continues to be male-dominated. They also participate in outreach activities to encourage younger girls to take an interest in CS. [*2013]
34. downtown ChampaignDowntown Champaign (which had experienced a decline in recent decades as many businesses moved to the mall) has enjoyed a revival in recent years with new housing and numerous new restaurants and other attractions.
35. Amer DelicBy virtue of winning the men's tennis singles title at the 2003 NCAA championship, Delic received a wild card entry to the U.S. Open, where he took his first-round opponent to five sets (I was there!).
36. Orange KrushOrange Krush, part of the Illini Pride student organization, serves as a huge cheering section for men's basketball, and also raises funds for charity.
37. Armory buildingWhen built, the Armory was among the largest buildings with no interior supporting columns. Alumni from the era before online registration will remember spending time in long lines at the Armory, attempting to make changes to their class registrations before each semester began.
38. Turner FellowsThe Turner Fellow program is an internship in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
39. Boneyard Arts FestivalThe Boneyard Arts Festival has become an annual event, showcasing visual and performing arts in numerous locations on campus and throughout Champaign-Urbana and the county. It's organized by 40 North 88 West, which is the Arts, Culture, and Entertainment council in Champaign County.
40. Japan HouseJapan House and its gardens are one of many examples of campus treasures that are enhanced and maintained with the help of volunteers.
41. Larry Kanfer galleryLarry Kanfer, a 1979 graduate, has been photographing the campus, as well as various landscapes in the Midwest and around the world.
42. Bardeen QuadThe Bardeen Quad, at the center of the north end of campus, is surrounded by various engineering buildings.
43. Assembly HallThe Assembly Hall (now known as the State Farm Center, starting in 2013) is an amazing arena, seating over 16,000, with no interior supports. It is home to men's and women's basketball, as well as concerts and other shows. Major renovations are scheduled for 2014 to 2016.
44. I HotelThe I Hotel, opened in 2008, is frequently used for conferences and provides accommodations right across the street from the Assembly Hall.
45. 1867 SocietyThe 1867 Society is a student group that promotes student gifts to the University.
46. Engineering at Illinois Hall of FameThe Engineering hall of fame, created in 2010, honors distinguished engineering alumni and faculty.
47. Fighting IlliniThe nickname "Fighting Illini" was apparently created around the time that Memorial Stadium was built, honoring Illinois students who had fought in World War I.
48. Ally NetworkThe Ally Network is a group of faculty and staff working to improve the campus experience for gay and lesbian students.
49. Knights of St. PatThe Knight of Saint Patrick is an annual award recognizing a small number of student leaders in the College of Engineering.
50. Division of Disability ResourcesThe campus has long been a leader in providing educational opportunity to students with disabilities.
51. bike trails on campusI've enjoyed cycling in Champaign-Urbana, including on the various bike trails crossing the campus.
52. Illinois PromiseThe Illinois Promise program, initiated in 2005, provides full scholarships to low income in-state residents, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.
53. Engineering ConvergenceEngineering Convergence is a networking dinner for engineering students and alumni, which started in 2008 and has become an annual event.
54. MosaicMosaic, developed at NCSA on campus, was the first widely used web browser.
55. John BardeenProfessor John Bardeen earned two Nobel Prizes -- one for the invention of the transistor while at Bell Labs, the other for developing the BCS theory of superconductivity, at Illinois. When I was a student, I interviewed him for an article in the Technograph.
56. The Other GuysThe Other Guys is a male a cappella group, whose signature song celebrates the Morrow Plots. The Girls Next Door is a female group, and there are a few other groups as well
57. Krannert Center usheringVolunteer ushers (both students and community members) staff all the shows -- and get to see the performances for free.
58. Research ParkThe Research Park, on the southwest side of campus, provides office space for both established and start-up companies. It facilitates interaction with the campus and provides internship and job opportunities for students.
59. wheelchair basketballThe men's and women's wheelchair basketball teams both have a history of national championship titles.
60. Liberty Bowl, 1982The 1982 Liberty Bowl, the first post-season appearance by the Illini since the 1960s, was also the final game for coach Bear Bryant of Alabama (I was there!).
61. Beckman cafeThe cafe in the atrium of the Beckman Institute is a nice place to get lunch (on weekdays) on the north end of campus.
62. Illinois BandsThe Marching Illini, the Wind Symphony, and numerous other bands are part of the nation's longest running college band program.
63. Illini UnionThe Illini Union, anchoring the north end of the Quad, is a hub of student activity, with bowling, billiards, and more. Hotel rooms in the Illini Union are a convenient place to stay right on campus; some rooms offer a great view of the Quad.
64. Nick OffermanNick Offerman, who portrays Ron Swanson on the TV show Parks & Recreation, is an alumnus. I enjoyed his stand-up comedy performance at the Illini Union in 2012. [*2013]
65. HomecomingThe University had one of the earliest Homecoming celebrations of any school (1910).
66. Ultimate Basketball ChallengeThis charity event features members of the men's and women's varsity and wheelchair basketball teams competing together in a fun wheelchair basketball game.
67. micro-urban communityThe Champaign-Urbana community combines the best of urban living (cultural attractions, restaurants, etc.) with the best of small town life (no traffic!).
68. Spice BoxThe Spice Box is a restaurant that serves dinner once or twice a week during the spring semester, operated by students in the Hospitality Management program.
69. Altgeld Hall chimesThe chimesmaster and various student players perform "Hail to the Orange" and other songs on the chimes in the tower of Altgeld Hall, which is open for tours.
70. Camp KesemCamp Kesem is a student organization that organizes a summer camp for children of cancer patients. The Illinois chapter is funded in part by the Illini 4000.
71. Altgeld HallAltgeld Hall is one of the oldest and most recognizable buildings on campus. It was home to the library, then the law school, and now the math department for the past few decades.
72. ACM conferenceThe student ACM chapter holds an annual conference, bringing in computer science speakers from around the country.
73. Atkins Tennis CenterThe Atkins Tennis Center is the home of the men's and women's tennis teams. With the addition of the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in 2009, the facility was large enough to host the 2013 NCAA men's and women's tournaments. [*2013]
74. Krannert UncorkedFree wine tastings, often accompanied by free music, occur most Thursdays in the spacious Krannert lobby.
75. UI Histories ProjectThis comprehensive website, started as a student project, documents the history of the campus and its many buildings, in words and photos.
76. Chief IlliniwekChief Illiniwek was an inspiring symbol of the University of Illinois from 1926 until 2007, performing at football game half-time shows and other events.
77. Foellinger AuditoriumKnown simply as the Auditorium when I was in school, this building marks the south end of the Quad.
78. Illini Media hall of fameThe hall of fame honors alumni of The Daily Illini and other Illini Media units who have made notable achievements in their careers.
79. Colonnades ClubThe stadium renovation included luxury seating areas, which opened for the 2008 football season. I had a season ticket there for the 2009 to 2011 seasons.
80. QuadThe Quad, at the center of campus, is a great spot to hang out. Each year before the start of the fall semester, it hosts Quad Day where numerous student organizations set up tables to recruit new members.
81. Engineering HallThe renovation of Engineering Hall, which houses the college administration and a number of student organizations, was completed in 2000.
82. Tau Beta PiThe Illinois Alpha chapter of Tau Beta Pi honors engineering students who demonstrate "distinguished scholarship and exemplary character."
83. concrete canoesCivil engineering students from across the country came to campus in 2013 for the national finals of concrete canoe racing. The idea of building a concrete canoe originated at Illinois in the early 1970s. [*2013]
84. Beckman InstituteThe Beckman Institute is an inter-disciplinary research center that brings together researchers from many different fields on campus.
85. Intensive English InstituteThe Intensive English Institute (IEI) provides full-time training in English as a second language, primarily to foreigners who plan to study in the United States (not necessarily at Illinois). They also have a Transitions program in the summer for incoming Illinois freshmen from foreign countries. [*2013]
86. Three in OneThe Marching Illini has long performed the traditional "Three in One," including the singing of "Hail to the Orange," at football half-time shows.
87. College LibertariansThis student organization promotes libertarian ideas on campus.
88. Morrow PlotsThe Morrow Plots are the oldest continuously used experimental agriculture plots, and are saluted in a signature song by The Other Guys.
89. PLATOPLATO was an early interactive computer system that provided access to various online course materials.
90. ACM student chapterThe student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery provides opportunities for CS students to get involved in a variety of activities.
91. Illinois Distributed MuseumThe "distributed museum" highlights engineering and technology innovations from the campus, including exhibits and artifacts that can be seen at various campus locations, as well as other information and documents available on the Internet. [*2013]
92. Bronze TabletThe Bronze Tablet (one tablet for each year, displayed in the corridors of the main library) honors undergraduate students who graduate in the top 3% of their class.
93. ILLIACILLIAC was the first computer built entirely at an educational institution (1952), and was the first of several built at Illinois.
94. uiuc.eduAlthough the campus is gradually converting to the use of, the original was an early and popular well-known domain name on the Internet.
95. student election commissionDuring my senior year, I served on a commission that had been established to run student government elections (following a voting scandal that had occurred the prior year).
96. Alma Mater statueThe Alma Mater statue, near the corner of Wright and Green Streets, is a very recognizable icon on campus.
97. James ScholarsThe James Scholar program recognizes academically advanced students, and provides them additional opportunities such as honors sections in some courses.
98. Krannert Center toursDaily tours highlight the history of the Center, and provide the opportunity to go backstage and see the behind-the-scenes workings of the building.
99. Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government FoundationThis foundation supports the study of libertarian ideas at the University, and holds an annual conference and other events.
100. women's basketballBoth the women and men play in the Assembly Hall, but it's a lot easier to get a good seat for the women's games. In 2008, the ninth-seeded Illini came within a couple of seconds of winning the Big Ten tournament (I was there!).
101. blue and orangeThe current school colors were chosen in 1894. I was delighted when I once heard an interior decorator mention that choosing two complementary colors can make a great decorating scheme -- say, for example, orange and blue.

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