College of LAS « Illinois

More than a Century Strong

  • John Milton Gregory1868 - Under the direction of John Milton Gregory, Illinois Industrial University welcomes its first class of about 70 students. The University admits women two years later.
  • 1869 - The campus's first laboratory, which is devoted to chemistry, is constructed in the south wing of the original University Hall.
  • 1872 - Literature and Arts curriculum emerges, says Regent Gregory, “to give agricultural and engineering students the literary side of their education.” The University also founds the College of Chemistry and the College of Natural History, which includes the Departments of Botany, Geology, and Zoology.
  • 1873 - John Milton Gregory argues for and succeeds in adding a literature and arts curriculum "to give agricultural and engineering students the literary side of their education."
  • 1877 - The College of Arts and Literature awards its first degrees.
  • 1878 - The same year that the University begins granting degrees, the Department of Chemistry becomes the first department to have its own building, the Chemical Laboratory, which is later called Harker Hall after Judge Oliver A. Harker, the first University counsel and the third dean of the law school.
  • 1885 - Illinois Industrial University officially changes its name to the University of Illinois.
  • Natural History Building 1892 - The Natural History Building opens to house the departments of botany, zoology, and geology. It is home to the Museum of Natural History, which among its exhibits, boasts a bison and the entire bird collection from the Columbian Exposition of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
  • 1894 - David Kinley is elected dean of the College of Literature and Arts, and Stephen Forbes becomes the dean of the new College of Science. Both deans reorganize curricula. Kinley announces that the college will become "the center of culture in the University to balance the severely practical spirit of the technical departments."
  • 1895 - The Graduate School is organized. The first doctoral examination was in the Department of Chemistry, in 1903, to D.W. Dehn.
  • 1896 - College of Literature and Arts sponsors the creation of the School of Law, which becomes the College of Law in 1900.
  • 1896 - Astronomical Observatory opens. In 1913 physicist Jakob Kunz invents the photoelectric cell here, which becomes instrumental to photoelectric photometry, the technique used to measure celestial magnitudes.
  • 1897 - Altgeld Hall is completed and named after Governor John P. Altgeld. It contains a museum in the basement, the University Library on the first floor, and stacks and offices on the second floor. The College of Law moves in from 1927 until 1955, when the building becomes home to the Department of Mathematics.
  • 1899 - Davenport Hall opens to house the College of Agriculture, although it later becomes home to the Departments of Anthropology and Geography.
  • 1902 - Illinois' new Chemistry Building is the largest single chemical laboratory in the world, and the first interdisciplinary research institute in chemistry. Over the next century, eight Nobel laureates receive their training there. In 1939 it is renamed in honor of William Albert Noyes, a legendary professor of organic chemistry and head of the Department of Chemistry from 1907 to 1926.
  • 1905 - The Woman’s Building (now known as the English Building) opens, complete with a gymnasium and swimming pool, social area, and the household science department.
  • 1907 - The Auditorium (today known as Foellinger Auditorium) is built in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson's Rotunda.
  • 1907 - Dr. Joel Stebbins, director of the U of I Observatory, is the first astronomer in America to electrically measure the brightness of the Moon.
  • Lincoln Hall 1911 - The eastern half of Lincoln Hall opens, named after Abraham Lincoln in recognition of his signing of the federal Land Grant Act in 1862 that made the University possible. The western portion of the building is completed in 1929, doubling the size of the structure. The building is dedicated to the study of the humanities and provides some of the first seminary libraries, which will become departmental libraries. Two museums—the Museum of Classical Archaeology and Art and the Museum of European Culture—occupy the fourth floor.
  • 1913 - College of Literature and Arts and College of Science merge into College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
  • 1916 - An addition to the Chemistry Building doubles its size and includes such unique features for the time as distilled water, compressed air, a ventilation system, and 150 electric wall plugs.
  • 1917 - A third museum—the Oriental Museum—is added to Lincoln Hall. Its collection of 1,700 ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets spark years of scholarly research.
  • 1928 - Sculptor Herman Adkins McNeal completes the bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln, located in Lincoln Hall.
  • 1929 - Construction on the west side of Lincoln Hall doubles the size of the building.
  • 1930 - The first play is performed in Lincoln Hall Theater. Titled Beggar on Horseback, it featured 72 students, some of whom went on to Broadway.
  • Altgeld Hall 1933 - When the Depression hits campus the University can no longer afford to pay its bell-ringer and the Altgeld bells go silent.
  • 1935 - Biochemist William C. Rose discovers threonin, the last of the eight essential amino acids that people must obtain from food.
  • 1939 - The Chemistry Building is renamed in honor of William Albert Noyes, the legendary professor of organic chemistry and head of the Department of Chemistry from 1907 to 1926. Prior to his tenure at Illinois, Noyes was the first chief chemist for the U.S. National Bureau of Standards, where he determined atomic weights. His value for the crucial hydrogen to oxygen weight ratio still stands today as one of the most precise chemical determinations ever made.
  • 1941 - Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the disruption of trade with the Far East, chemist Carl S. Marvel is asked to lead a national effort—comparable in scope to the Manhattan Project. Within one year, the “rubber project” developed a way to synthetize rubber for tires. At the same time and under a similar deadline, Marvel also directs a multi-institutional team to develop chloroquinine to protect soldiers from malarial mosquitoes.
  • 1942 - With World War II raging, the Illini Union Ballroom is transformed into a cafeteria for enlisted men. Professors pull double duty. English professors teach math, art professors teach physics, and retirees return to work. Women are called upon to teach, for the first time. More than 20,000 students, alumni, and faculty serve in the Armed Forces during the war. Of them, 850 are confirmed dead or missing in action as of May, 1946.
  • 1949 - The college introduces the first major to study a world region, in Latin American studies, marking the campus's growing engagement with the global community.
  • 1950 - The East Chemistry Building opens, later renamed in honor of Roger Adams, who turned Illinois into a powerhouse for organic chemistry. Adams is best known for developing the platinum oxide catalyst that hardens liquid vegetable oils into solid fats for soap, for which he received the National Medal of Science in 1964. Its discovery had a profound effect in the synthesis and structural knowledge of organic chemistry and biochemistry.
  • 1956 - The English Building takes on its current name after almost a decade of being known as Bevier Hall. (Prior to that, it was known for over 40 years as the Woman’s Building).
  • 1957 - Chemist Rudy Marcus develops electron transfer theory and later wins the Nobel Prize for this work carried out in Noyes Laboratory.
  • 1960 - English professor Paul Landis ends a 20-year tradition when he reads Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol one last time in Lincoln Hall Theater.
  • 1961 - Acclaimed anthropologist Oscar Lewis publishes Children of Sanchez, an examination of poverty that gained worldwide attention and was later made into a movie. Lewis believed that poverty transcended borders, leadling him to introduce the concept of a culture of poverty, which influenced U.S. policymakers, including President Lyndon Johnson and his War on Poverty (1964).
  • Arthur DeVries 1964 - Biology professor Arthur DeVries discovers "fish antifreeze," a molecule that prevents fish from freezing in icy Antarctic waters.
  • 1965 - As a result of the U.S.-Soviet space race, Congress passes Title VI of the Higher Education Act, which encourages universities to train students in languages and cultures pertinent to national defense. This act led to the creation of the Latin American and African studies programs and it supported the teaching of Hindi and Arabic. The government's military objectives were tempered by the humanitarian aspirations prevailing on campus in the 1960s.
  • 1968 - LAS offers the campus's first study abroad program, a yearlong course. By 1999, LAS also is offering four- to six-week courses abroad to help make studying abroad a financially viable option for more students. Cultural awareness is becoming an essential part of a higher education.
  • 1968 - The Division of General Studies is disbanded, bringing an end to the students' ability to graduate with a degree in general curriculum. Students may continue to enroll in general curriculum through LAS but must declare a major by the end of their sophomore year.
  • 1970s - Biological psychologist William Greenough shattered existing theories about brain development by showing that the brain is as pliable as a muscle—the more a person uses it, the more versatile it becomes, which holds true at all ages. His work has have contributed to reforms in everything from childhood education to the care of the elderly.
  • 1971 - The museums on the fourth floor of Lincoln Hall are renamed the World Heritage Museum to reflect the combination of three museums over the years: the Museum of Classical Archaeology and Art, the Museum of European Culture, and the Oriental Museum.
  • 1976 - Wolfgang Haken and fellow U of I mathematician Kenneth Appel made world news when they proved the four-color theorem, which says that any map can be colored using only four colors.
  • Carl Woese 1977 - Carl Woese, U of I professor of microbiology, discovers archaea, the third domain of life, which overturns scientists previous beliefs about the evolution of life on Earth. Woese receives the 2003 Crafoord Prize in Biosciences, an award given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in scientific fields not covered by the Nobel Prize. Other awards he also received include the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award and a National Medal of Science.
  • 1984 - May Berenbaum, a professor of entomology and member of the National Academy of Sciences, launches the first annual Insect Fear Film Festival, which is considered the longest-running university-sponsored public celebration of arthropods in the country.
  • 1986 - The Department of Geology becomes the first geology department in the country to have its own supercomputer.
  • Thunderstorm animation 1989 - A groundbreaking animation of a thunderstorm created by Robert Wilhelmson, an atmospheric scientist and pioneer in the use of computer graphics to simulate severe storms, receives 14 awards, including an Academy Award nomination. He later simulates the formation of a tornado from a severe thunderstorm-a feat that is helping in storm prediction.
  • 1999 - The international studies major is established for LAS undergraduates so they may prepare for internationally oriented careers.
  • 1999 - LAS establishes Learning Communities, a program that helps make the University more intimate and welcoming to freshmen. From an initial enrollment of less than 300, the program now accommodates more than 1,000 freshmen.
  • Spurlock Museum Exhibit 2002 - Spurlock Museum, which replaces the World Heritage Museum, is opened on September 26 after 10 years of planning and construction. The museum's collections are organized around five permanent exhibits celebrating the cultures of Ancient Mediterranean, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Asia and Oceania. Only 2,000 of the museum's more than 45,000 artifacts are exhibited at any one time.
  • 2002 - Noyes Laboratory is designated as a National Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society.
  • 2003 - Department of Economics returns to LAS. Originally founded in 1895 by David Kinley, head of the College of Literature and Arts, the department moved to the School of Commerce in 1902.
  • 2003 - Paul C. Lauterbur, professor of chemistry, is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking work with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • 2003 - The Nobel Prize in Physics goes to U of I physicist Anthony J. Leggett for his contributions to the theory of superfluidity.
  • 2004 - The college inaugurates the Global Studies program, an innovative first-semester program that introduces first-year students at U of I to world cultures and the phenomenon of globalization.
  • Richard Powers
  • 2006 - Novelist and writer-in-residence Richard Powers wins the 2006 National Book Award for his ninth book, Echo Maker. Powers is also the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship among other awards.
  • 2007 - The General Curriculum Center is renamed the Division of General Studies and becomes part of the Office of the Provost.
  • 2007 - Eight scientists in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences played leadership roles on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Peace Prize along with former Vice President Al Gore.
  • 2007 - Charles P. Slichter, research professor of physics and Center for Advanced Study professor emeritus of physics and chemistry, receives the National Medal of Science in physical sciences. He received the award for “establishing nuclear magnetic resonance as a powerful tool to reveal the fundamental molecular properties of liquids and solids. His inspired teaching has led generations of physicists and chemists to develop a host of modern technologies in condensed matter physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine.” He was presented with the award by President George W. Bush in the White House in 2008.
  • 2008 - Brigit Pegeen Kelly is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship for a career of distinguished poetic achievement, having been called “one of the very best poets now writing in the United States.”
  • John Rogers
  • 2009 - Chemistry professor John Rogers is a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award. Rogers is known for his research on new materials for classes of electronics that overcome design limitations. The soft, stretchable, and curvilinear devices enabled by these approaches open new application opportunities, from cameras with designs inspired by the human eye, to electronics that can integrate intimately with the soft tissues of the human body for advanced monitoring.
  • May Berenbaum
  • 2011 - May Berenbaum, head and professor of entomology, receives the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for her expertise on bees and the causes behind declining bee populations, as well as advancing the field of entomology and explaining its significance.
  • 2011 - Douglas A. Mitchell, professor of chemistry, wins the National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award for young investigators who have proposed exceptionally creative research ideas that have the potential to produce important medical advances. Mitchell uses chemical methods to study the mechanisms that contribute to bacterial virulence and antibiotic resistance.
  • 2012 - Alex Shakar, professor of English, was named a winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction for Luminarium. Luminarium focuses on the roles of technology and spirituality in shaping people’s reality.
  • Lincoln Hall
  • 2012 - After being closed for renovations since March 2010, Lincoln Hall reopens for classes in the fall. About 2,000 people visited the building’s open house during Homecoming weekend, featuring exhibits on display, a visit by the Marching Illini, and a time capsule ceremony with Chancellor Phyllis Wise and LAS Dean Ruth Watkins.