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UIS Chronology


Thomas Strawbridge purchased site of future campus.


Springfield's first institution of higher learning, Illinois State University, opened. Illinois State University moved to Springfield from Hillsboro in 1852. Suffering from constant financial problems, it closed in 1867. Concordia College (later Seminary) purchased the campus in 1873. Among ISU's students were Robert T. Lincoln and John Hay. This institution had no connection with the current university in Normal.


Springfield citizens attempted and failed to raise funds to create Abraham Lincoln University. Left: a brochure to raise money for a proposed Abraham Lincoln University, 1924.


Springfield Committee for Higher Education formed to bring a four-year university to the capital city. Left: a letter from Mayor Lester Collins inviting Attorney George Hoffman to a public meeting to discuss the prospects for a four-year college in Springfield. Following this meeting, the Springfield Committee for Higher Education was formed, with Hoffmann as its chairman. The efforts of the Committee to bring a university to the capital city ended successfully with the opening of Sangamon State University in 1970.
July 1, 1967 Illinois Board of Regents started operations, charged with the governance of Illinois State University, Northern Illinois University, and the establishment of a still unnamed university in Springfield. Dr. Norris L Brookens of Urbana was the first BOR chair.

July 14, 1967

Illinois State Senate Bill 955 authorized a "Senior University in Springfield."

September 8, 1968

The name "Sangamon State University" chosen by the Board ofRegents.

February 10, 1969

The Board of Regents' Academic Planning Committee, charged with creating SSU's academic programs, held its first meeting.

June 10, 1969

Governor Richard Ogilvie signed into law Public Act 76-131, the bill creating Sangamon State University. At that time, the Central Illinois Committee for Higher Education was formed to raise funds and acquire land for the new University.

September 1, 1969

Dr. Robert C. Spencer began work as first president.

September, 1969

University began renting its first offices in the Myers Building.

April, 1970

Preliminary work began on campus construction.

"A surveyor's stake, standing in the furrowed ground of an Illinois prairie, announces that the co-ordinates of plan upon plan, meeting upon meeting, drawing upon drawing, and survey upon survey have focussed on this as the point around which all the activities of a new university will revolve."

---From the Long Range Development Plan, Sangamon State University, by architects Murphy, Downey, Wofford & Richman, 1970.

June 10, 1970

Ground breaking ceremony for construction of the "Interim Campus" took place. Left: President Robert Spencer, Lt. Gov Paul Simon, Gov Richard Ogilvie, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Ray Page.

September 18, 1970

First student newspaper, Spectrum, published. According to an item in this premiere issue, fashion for "campus girls" that fall involved the difficult choice between "mini," "midi," and "maxi" lengths.

September 22, 1970

Library began operation. The University Library was originally located in Building F (now Student Affairs Building), and opened with about 20,000 volumes and 500 periodicals and newspaper subscriptions. In the early years, the library circulated books with no specific due date; patrons were trusted to return them by the end of the quarter. Needless to say, some borrowers abused the policy and it was dropped in 1974.

September 28, 1970

First classes held at the First Methodist Church at Fifth and Capitol in downtown Springfield. Because of construction delays caused by rainy weather, the Interim Campus could not open for classes on September 21, as originally planned.

October 5, 1970

First classes held at the SSU Interim Campus. 811 students had enrolled.

April 16, 1971

Floppy Hat Day. Floppy Hat Day celebrates SSU's "individual character and spirit." Professor Gus Stevens, who initiated the celebration, judged the hats. President Spencer joined as well as many others. The event was in response to criticisms from a State Senator regarding Stevens' wearing a hat "in the presence of ladies." Stevens commented: "It's not what we wear, but what's under our hats that counts."

May 24-26, 1971

SSU held first University Week, "The Year 2001." Science Fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke delivered the keynote address.


The SSU baseball team was established as the first SSU sport.

December, 1971

First degree students graduated, although formal ceremonies did nottake place until 1972.

February, 1972

The Leland Building was chosen for the SSU downtown campus for fallof 1972.

June 10, 1972

On the second anniversary of groundbreaking. SSU held its first commencement at the Highway Administration Building (now IDOT) building on Dirksen Parkway. 254 students received bachelors' degrees, and 203 received masters' degrees.

June, 1972

Construction began on Brookens Library.

Fall, 1972

Paul Simon founded Public Affairs Reporting Program. After Simon lost the Democratic primary for governor in 1972, he joined the faculty of Sangamon State University, and established the Public Affairs Reporting Program. The program is now nationally recognized as a first-rate master's program that trains journalists about how to cover government, particularly Illinois state government. Simon was also one of three co-founders of Illinois Issues magazine, which was first published in 1975.

Simon left SSU to resume his political career: he served as a U.S Representative 1975-1985, U.S. Senator 1985-1997, and was a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries in 1988.

December 22, 1972

University acquired Clayville Rural Life Center (deed of gift).

February 16, 1973

Sangamon State Faculty Union first met.

May 7, 1973

A large geodesic dome was built by Dr. Robert Sipe and students for "Alternatives in Environments and Technology" Week held at SSU, May 7-13, 1973. Architect Buckminster Fuller delivered the keynote speech, "Doing More With Less With the Universe."


Interim Campus, with Brookens Library under construction in the background.

March 1, 1974

Singer Jimmy Buffett, before making it big in Margaritaville, played for free in the cafeteria in Building D (now Student Life Building).


Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI) established.


Dogs were allowed on the SSU campus in the early years.


Heavy rains flood the plaza at the Interim Campus. Students respond to the situation by playing volleyball.

January, 1975

Illinois Issues magazine published first edition.

January 3, 1975

WSSR-FM, SSU's NPR radio station first went on the air.


The Peer Group Counselors for the 1975-76 academic year included singer Bobby McFerrin (center, right). Front: Toni Munn. Second row: Pat Leitzen, Victor Vidal, McFerrin. Third row: Annette Boxman, Dave Lindley.

May, 1976

Ernst Giesecke became first professor emeritus.

May 19, 1976

Norris L Brookens Library, SSU's first permanent building, dedicated. Brookens Library opened in December, 1975 with about 175,000 books, 45,000 government documents, and over 3000 periodical titles, as well as audio-visual and archival collections.

September 3, 1977

SSU Prairie Stars Men's Soccer Team played first game, defeating Bradley University 4-2.

April 15, 1978

University Observatory dedicated (located on roof of Brookens Library; the first of Prof. Charles Schweighauser's "Star Parties" was held previous November).

September 1, 1978

Alex B. Lacy Jr. began work as second president.

Fall 1979

SSU's first intercollegiate Women's Tennis Team took to the courts in the Fall of 1979.

August, 1980

First on-campus housing dedicated.

September, 1980

The Public Affairs Center, SSU's second permanent building, opened.

February 20, 1981

SSU Auditorium held its premier performance--a sellout of Hal Holbrook in "Mark Twain Tonight!"

March 10, 1981

PAC Building dedicated.

October 1982

Helen Lash selected the first Employee of the Month.


Phyllis Michael selected the first Employee of the Year.

April 22, 1983

Novelist Norman Mailer visited SSU and read from his new work, Ancient Evenings.

July 1, 1984

Durward Long began work as third president.

February 11, 1985

SCAN (Springfield Community Access Network), originating from SSU'sTelevision Office, first aired on cable channel 17.


The SSU Prairie Stars soccer team of 1986-87 won the NAIA national champoinship, and went on to defeat powerful UCLA in the World Collegiate Championship. There they placed second in the world, after losing to the University College of Dublin, 1-0.


Soccer team won second NAIA national championship.

January 22, 1989

WSSR changed its call letters to WSSU.


Campus' recycling program began.

December, 1989

SSU's Institute for Public Affairs formally established.

August 27, 1990

SSU's enrollment stood at 4,192, breaking the 4000 mark for the firsttime.

February 1, 1991

A. Wayne Penn became acting president.

July 15, 1991

Naomi B. Lynn began work as fourth president.

January, 1992

Health & Sciences Building, SSU's third permanent building, opened.


Soccer team won third NAIA national championship; the Women's TennisTeam won the NAIA district 20 championship for the sixth consecutive year.

September, 1994

Campus Police Department established.

September, 1994

The Women's Center opened in Building F (now Student Affairs Building).


SSU celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary; held last commencement.

February 28, 1995

Governor Edgar signed legislation to reorganize higher education and,in the process, abolish the Board of Regents and merge SSU with the University of Illinois.

June 29, 1995

The university community held a picnic as a "wake" for Sangamon State University.

July 1, 1995

SSU became the University of Illinois at Springfield, the third campusof the U of I system. SSU President Naomi Lynn continued as the first Chancellor of UIS.

August 1, 1995

New UIS logo announced.

September, 1995

UIS student enrollment reached 4,702.

November, 1995

UIS women played their first basketball game against the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

April 25, 1996

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton visited UIS and spoke in Sangamon Auditorium.

September 12, 1996

Board of Trustees approved UIS' first doctoral program-Doctorate of Public Administration.

September, 1996

UIS Accounting students ranked #1 in the nation in percentage passingthe CPA exam.

September 28, 1996

UIS held its "first" homecoming; SSU sponsored events billed as the "first homecoming" in 1977, 1990, and 1994.

January, 1997

UI-Online established, a university-wide initiative to use the Internet to extend educational and public service programs to a wider audience. In its first year, UI-Online served 30 UIS students. By the spring of 1999, the Management Information Systems degree was fully available online. By the fall of 2008, a total of 1,200 UIS students were enrolled in 16 fully online degree programs, and half of UIS students were taking at least one online class.

April 23, 1997

Novelist John Updike spoke on campus and read one of his short stories.

October 4, 1999

Illinois Board of Higher Education approved the Capital Scholars honors program,which will allow UIS to admit its first class of freshmen beginning infall, 2001.
2000 UIS Downstate Innocence Project founded by Larry Golden, Nancy Ford and Bill Clutter. Its mission is to provide assistance to attorneys who represent downstate inmates convicted of crimes they did not commit, and helping prevent conviction of innocent persons in the future. The project is unique in its involvement of undergraduate students from across academic disciplines in investigating cases. By 2008, the project had successfully aided in the exoneration of three persons, including two wrongfully convicted of murder.

April 1, 2001

Richard D. Ringeisen began work as second UIS Chancellor

August, 2001

116 Capital Scholars began classes, the first Freshmen class at UIS. Their dormitory, Lincoln Residence Hall, opens. The $10 million complex can house a total of 226 Capital Scholars.

August 28, 2004

University Hall, a state-of-the-art classroom and office building, was dedicated. The building houses 32 classrooms, 193 offices, five conference rooms, two lecture halls, four seminar rooms, five computer labs, eight psychology and computer science labs, and four student lounges. The building cost $31.3 million and comprises 128,000 gross-square-feet.

In association with the construction of University Hall, a quadrangle was landscaped to the east of the new building. Future campus buildings will be situated around the new "quad."

June, 2005

UIS Colonnade completed. The structure, including a fountain and seating, was designed as the symbolic center of campus and the head of the newly-developed Quadrangle.

September 8, 2005

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved a new general education curriculum, making UIS a full-fledged four-year university for the first time. Freshman were slated to be admitted under the general education curriculum beginning in fall, 2006. The Capitol Scholars continued as an honors program.

September, 2006

UIS student enrollment reached 4,761, a new record. The number included new general-admission freshmen, 958 off-campus online students, and over 300 international students. Over 850 students were living in campus housing.

January 10, 2007

The Inauguration of the Illinois House of Representatives was held in Sangamon Auditorium. The ceremony was held before representatives from every county and legislative district in Illinois. It was the first time since 1840 that inaugural proceedings were held at an alternate location. The change of venue was necessary due to ongoing renovations in the House chambers.

September 26, 2007

The Recreation and Athletics Center (TRAC) was dedicated. TRAC features a 3,000-seat performance arena with three collegiate-length basketball and volleyball courts, an elevated running track, two racquetball courts that convert to squash courts, cardio/weight training areas, and a multi-purpose exercise room. The 72,000 gross-square-foot facility, which cost $16.2 million to construct, is the sixth major permanent building on the UIS Campus.

August, 2008

132 Freshmen moved into partially-completed Founders Hall, a new $16.5 million dormitory named in honor of the Springfield community members, administration and faculty who established Sangamon State University in 1969. The completed building includes beds for 230 Freshmen, a new campus bookstore, classrooms, and a snack bar.

The hall's green roof, supplied by Weston Solutions of Chicago, is made up of a 4-inch layer of soil and sedums that covers a total of 26,000 square feet of roof. Insulation provided by the green roof is expected to reduce overall heating costs in the building by 8 percent and cooling costs by 16 percent.

January 14, 2009

On January 14, 2009, the Illinois House of Representatives held their inauguration in Sangamon Auditorium for a second time. After the inauguration ceremony, the newly-sworn House renewed their vote to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich. The House had first voted on a motion to impeach the Governor the week before. It was decided that to insure the legality of the vote, the new House should vote again on the motion, which carried 117-1.
August 1, 2010 UIS athletic program became a full-fledged member of NCAA Division II.
September, 2010 Student enrollment at UIS reached a recond of 5,174, surpassing the 5,000 milestone for the first time. This included 3,197 undergraduates and 1,977 graduate students. There were 1,089 students living on-campus. 1,364 students, or more than one-fourth of the student body, were majoring in online degree or certificate programs.
July 1, 2011 Susan J. Koch begins work as the third UIS Chancellor. For the first time, Chancellor Koch also has the title of Vice President of the University of Illinois.