LAS history

The College of LAS has been central to the University of Illinois campus for more than 100 years. Scroll through our timeline to learn more about our history.

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Illinois professor receives Nobel Prize in Chemistry

After completing his PhD with Linus Pauling at Caltech in 1953, and doing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oxford, Martin Karplus became a researcher and lecturer at the University of Illinois from 1955 to 1960. While at the University of Illinois, he conducted important Nuclear Magnetic Resonance research. Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel received the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.”

2013
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English professor Shakar named winner of LOS Angeles Times Book Prize

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. 2012
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Lincoln Hall reopens after renovations 

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. 2012
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University professor receives Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement

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
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Chemistry professor wins National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award

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. 2011
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Illinois chemist John Rogers receives MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award

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.

2009
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Illinois professor receives Academy of American Poets Fellowship

English and Rhetoric professor 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.” 2008
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General Curriculum Center renamed Division of General Studies

The General Curriculum Center is renamed the Division of General Studies and becomes part of the Office of the Provost. 2007
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Atmospheric Science department scientists assist UN in Nobel Peace Prize-winning work

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
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Slichter wins National Medal of Science for nuclear magnetic resonance work

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. 2007
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Illinois writer-in-residence  wins National Book Award

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. 2006
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LAS creates Global Studies program

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. 2004
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Illinois physicist wins Nobel Prize  for work on superfluidity

The Nobel Prize in Physics goes to U of I physicist Anthony J. Leggett for his contributions to the theory of superfluidity. 2003
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Department of Economics makes return to LAS

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
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Lauterbur wins 2003 Nobel Prize  for discovering nuclear magnetic resonance

Paul Lauterbur served at Illinois from 1985 until his death, with appointments in the College of Medicine and the Department of Chemistry. Lauterbur was also director of the Biomedical Resonance Laboratory. He is credited for discovering that NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) signals could be used to create an image. Further development of this concept led to magnetic resonance imaging, an important medical diagnostic tool. In 2003, Lauterbur, along with Sir Peter Mansfield of the University of Nottingham (who was a research associate at Illinois in the Department of Physics from 1962 to 1964), received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work in this area.

2003
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LAS Spurlock Museum  takes over former World Heritage Museum

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
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American Chemical Society identifies Noyes Laboratory as chemistry landmark

Noyes Laboratory is designated as a National Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society. 2002
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LAS designates international studies major

The international studies major is established for LAS undergraduates so they may prepare for internationally oriented careers. 1999
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LAS creates program to welcome freshmen

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. 1999
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Illinois chemist wins Nobel Prize for G-protein discovery

Martin Rodbell was a postdoctoral fellow in chemistry at the University of Illinois in 1954 after earning his PhD from the University of Washington with Donald J. Hanahan. Dr. Hanahan received his BS, MS and PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois. Dr. Rodbell joined the staff of the National Institutes of Health in 1956. He and Alfred Gilman were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1994 for "their discovery of G-proteins and the role of these proteins in signal transduction in cells."

1994
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University chemist establishes electron transfer theory, wins Nobel Prize

In 1964, Rudolph Marcus joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and worked on electron transfer and other aspects of reaction dynamics, including introducing action-angle variables into molecular collisions, reaction dynamics, and semiclassical theories of collisions and bound states. Marcus is well known for his receipt of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Chemistry 'for his contributions to the theory of electron transfer reactions in chemical systems'. He has also been awarded seven awards and medals by the American Chemical Society, including the Irving Langmuir and Peter Debye Awards. He has also received the National Medal of Science (1989), is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and is a foreign member of the Royal Society of London.

1992
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Former university professor wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Elias Corey earned his PhD degree from MIT in 1951 and was a chemistry professor at the University of Illinois from 1950 to 1959. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1990 “for his development of the theory and methodology of organic synthesis.” He is particularly known for popularizing the concept of retrosynthetic analysis in which the synthesis of a complex organic molecule is designed by conceptually working backward from the full molecule, breaking one bond at a time, until the one reaches a set of simple starting materials that can be assembled, working forward, into the target compound by known reactions.

1990
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Atmospheric scientist receives Academy Award nomination for computer graphics of severe storms simulations 

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. 1989
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Department of Geology obtains a supercomputer

The Department of Geology becomes the first geology department in the country to have its own supercomputer. 1986
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University entomologist  Insect Fear Film Festival

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. 1984
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Woese makes groundbreaking  discovery of archaea, the third domain of life

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. 1977
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Illinois mathematicians  make headlines with four-color map theorem

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. 1976
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Faulkner  makes lasting impact on LAS as professor and Dean of college

Larry Faulkner - Larry Faulkner arrived at Illinois in 1973 as a chemistry professor. Faulkner quickly became known for his teaching and research, and as a former chemistry professor, dean of the College of LAS, and provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, he helped to initiate and usher campus through important changes. He is also credited as co-creator of the cybernetic potentiostat, which has impacted the design of commercial analytical instruments. 1973
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Illinois professor’s theories lead Department of Astronomy to international acclaim

Icko Iben Jr., now distinguished professor emeritus of astronomy and physics at Illinois, is recognized as one of the leading scientists in the world in stellar evolution theory. His calculations helped describe stars from their early contractions to the burning of helium (one of the final stages of a star’s life cycle) and other stages of evolution. The success of his models to describe observations of real stars has been described as the greatest triumph of 20th-century astrophysics. He was named chair of the Department of Astronomy in 1972 and served in that post until 1984, during which he led the department to international acclaim.

1972
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Museums on Lincoln Hall fourth floor merged as World Heritage Museum

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. 1971
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Illinois psychologist  develops prevailing brain development theories

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. 1970
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University builds multi-level Psychology Building

In 1969, the new Psychology Building was designed to give the department 136,000 square feet of new space with 22,800 as offices, 6,000 as classrooms, 8,300 as “instructional laboratories,” 37,300 for research laboratories, and 3,600 for “warehouse storage space.” 1969
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LAS provides students with first study abroad opportunity on campus

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
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General curriculum degree discontinued; students pushed to specialize

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. 1968
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Illinois classics professor's teachings leaves lasting impact on students

Richard Scanlan, a classics professor who taught from 1967 to 1998, became so popular that many former students would encourage their children—and, as his career progressed, their grandchildren—to take his courses. His class in classical mythology became perhaps the most popular course on campus, with enrollment growing from 200 to 1,500 within the first five years of its existence in the 1970s (it was later capped at 1,200). In all, an estimated 56,000 students took the class during Scanlan’s career. A People magazine profile in 1978 described his mild-mannered demeanor and affinity for bow ties and jeans, adding that he “recognized long ago that there were certain, uh, tedious stretches in his courses on classical civilization. He decided a few theatrics wouldn’t hurt.”

1967
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History professor leads field of Brazilian studies

The nation of Brazil is widely recognized as an emerging economic and political world power. The University of Illinois has seen and understood the implications of this for a long time, thanks largely to the efforts of Joseph L. Love. Love, professor emeritus of history at the University of Illinois who retired in 2003, has been a driving force in positioning the University as a leader in Brazilian studies. He played a key role in directing the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies by designing its master’s degree program, winning numerous grants, and organizing its consortium with the University of Chicago.

1966
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Humanities prevail in higher education during Cold War era

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. 1965
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Biology professor  learns how fish survive in icy waters

Biology professor Arthur DeVries discovers "fish antifreeze," a molecule that prevents fish from freezing in icy Antarctic waters. 1964
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Illinois anthropologist  influences US policymakers with “culture of poverty” concept

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, leading 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). 1961
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English professor sheds light on the women of American literature

Who are the writers who make up the tradition of American literature? It used to be that students were only taught about the men. That was before the work of Nina Baym, the professor emerita of English who changed the face of American literature by expanding the field to include female writers. Baym began her career as an English professor at the University of Illinois in the 1960s, and by the time she retired in 2004, she had been named a Swanlund Endowed Chair, a Jubilee Professor in the College of LAS, and a Center for Advanced Study Professor of English. She was a tireless advocate for the University through her teaching, mentoring, service on countless committees and campaigns, and her leadership as director of the College of LAS’s School of Humanities.

1960
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English professor reads Dickens’s A Christmas Carol once more

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. 1960
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Professor of Spanish sheds light on Chicano literature

Luis Leal, who served as a professor of Spanish in the College of LAS from 1959 to 1976, was an internationally recognized scholar of the literature of Mexico, Latin America, and Latinos in the United States. He wrote more than 30 books and 300 scholarly articles in his career, and he is credited with lending credibility and major exposure to Chicano literature. Leal “began to write essays and deliver papers at conferences that began to call attention to the concept of Chicano literature, which hadn’t really been acknowledged in American literary circles,” said Mario T. Garcia, professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UC-Santa Barbara. In 1992 he received the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor given to foreign citizens by the Mexican government. In 1999, President Bill Clinton awarded Leal the National Medal for the Humanities for his lifelong contributions to the study of literature.

1959
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Bevier Hall changes name to English Building

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).

1956
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Professor finds new coenzymes for methane formation

Dr. Ralph Wolfe became an associate professor in the Department of Bacteriology at the University of Illinois in 1953. The discovery of novel coenzymes for methane formation by Wolfe and his colleagues helped make possible Professor Carl Woese’s discovery of a third domain of life, called archaea, as only Wolfe’s lab knew the conditions necessary to grow the organisms. Wolfe is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for teaching and research, including membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Science.

1953
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Mathematics professor redefines study of group theory

Michio Suzuki came to the College of LAS in 1952 on a graduate fellowship in mathematics. He later became a research associate and then a full professor by 1959. He’d remain for the rest of his career. He’d make a discovery at Illinois that shook the mathematical world. Suzuki was an expert in group theory, with groups generally defined as fundamental mathematical objects that capture the set of symmetries of a geometric structure or collection of invertible transformations of a physical system. Simple groups are the building blocks of finite groups, and in 1960, Suzuki discovered the infinite family of finite simple groups that bears his name. The discovery made him instantly famous in math circles; no new finite simple groups had been discovered since five simple groups were discovered during the mid-1800s. Suzuki later expanded upon his findings, ensuring that his name will endure as long as group theory is studied.

1952
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Roger Adams Laboratory opens

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. 1950
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LAS introduces regional studies majors to higher education

The college of LAS introduces the first major to study a world region, in Latin American studies, marking the campus's growing engagement with the global community. 1949
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Illinois professor develops psychological research disciplines and makes prolific impact on Cold War

Charles Osgood was a professor in the Department of Psychology from 1949 to 1984. Osgood earned essentially every major honor in the field, and he’s credited with developing several psychological research disciplines, including psycholinguistics (the empirical study of how people speak and understand language), theories of language production and interpretation, cross-cultural studies, and the Semantic Differential, which has been used in thousands of studies as a standard method of measuring the meaning of words. During the Cold War, he became so concerned about the possibility of nuclear war that he devised a strategy to decrease political tension. He called it Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-reduction (GRIT). Osgood worked tirelessly to put the theory before policymakers, and he testified before the Senate and House of Representatives. They listened. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, Osgood received a note from a member of the Kennedy administration that asked, “What did you think of our use of GRIT in Cuba?”

1949
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Illinois chemist inspires development of now billion-dollar industry

Herbert Gutowsky was a pioneer in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, an invaluable technique for sample analysis that has become a standard tool in chemistry, molecular biology, and medical imaging. His investigations had implications for all scientific research regarding molecular structure. Gutowsky would build his own apparatus to perform his first NMR experiments, and that work inspired companies to build and sell NMR spectrometers—now a billion-dollar industry. He became head of the chemistry department in 1967, and in 1970 he oversaw the creation of the School of Chemical Sciences, where he served as director until 1983. Among his many honors were the National Medal of Science in 1977 and the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1983. He was the first chemist to begin using NMR in his research, starting as early as 1948.

1948
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University biologist contradicts popular beliefs in photosynthesis

It takes courage to say your teacher is wrong—particularly if the teacher has won the Nobel Prize—but that’s what Robert Emerson (grandnephew of Ralph Waldo Emerson) did early in his career when he contradicted German physiologist Otto Warburg’s assertion that four photons of light could convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrate during photosynthesis. Through rigorous research, Emerson showed that the process required eight photons. For this and other work, he was named a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His expertise helped build his program, as Emerson’s prominence in the field attracted many other leaders in the study of photosynthesis to the College of LAS.

1947
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French professor translates French culture and novelist

Philip Kolb taught in the Department of French at Illinois from 1945 to 1975, during which time he transformed our understanding of Marcel Proust, modernism, and French intellectual history. Kolb recognized the greatness in Proust the French novelist admired as one of the most important writers of the 20th century. In the 1930s, Kolb began editing the deceased writer’s letters, and by the time he had finished some 60 years later, he had produced a scholarly contribution that transformed the understanding of Proust’s life and work for researchers from all over the world.

1945
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University feels impact of WWII

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. 1942
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Illinois chemist explores function of nucleic acids

Nelson Leonard's career spanned more than 50 years at Illinois, where he was a professor of chemistry, professor of biochemistry, a professor in the Center for Advanced Study, and the first Reynold C. Fuson Professor of Chemistry. He was one of the first to use synthetic organic chemistry to explore the relationship between structure and function of nucleic acids, the building blocks of genetic code.

1942
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Chemistry professor makes groundbreaking innovations to aid in WWII

Professor Carl Marvel's work at Illinois was truly outstanding. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the disruption of trade with the Far East, chemist Marvel was asked to lead a national effort—comparable in scope to the Manhattan Project. Within one year, the “rubber project” developed a way to synthesize rubber for tires. At the same time and under a similar deadline, Marvel also directs a multi-institutional team to develop chloroquine to protect soldiers from malarial mosquitoes. He published more than 400 papers and was in large part responsible for the establishment of the field of organic polymers. After receiving his BS degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, Marvel entered graduate school in 1915 for chemistry at the University of Illinois. In 1920, he received his PhD in chemistry under Professor William A. Noyes. He then joined the faculty of Illinois as an instructor in chemistry. His role in the training of outstanding chemists began with his first organic qualitative analysis course. Among the students in this course were "Wallace Carothers, who went on to be the number one polymer chemist America has produced; Samuel McElvain, who was to become professor of chemistry at Wisconsin; George Graves, who played an important part in the plutonium plant at Hanford, Washington in WWII and several others who also became leaders." In 1930, he became Professor of Organic Chemistry at Illinois and in 1953 he attained the rank of Research Professor.

1941
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University professor innovates sociology research

Florian Znaniecki became a professor of sociology at Illinois in 1940. He taught and researched at the University until his death. Znaniecki made a name for himself as co-author of the widely influential book, The Polish Peasant. The book, which Znaniecki wrote with W.I. Thomas, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, became a foundational work in empirical sociology. It included several methodological innovations, including the use of letters and autobiographies to conduct sociological analysis. The book was also one of the first works to use analytic induction, the systematic examination of similarities in observations to develop concepts that can later be tested using empirical data.

1940
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Language professor persuades university to create linguistics department

Born in Berlin, Henry R. Kahane was forced into exile after the rise of Adolf Hitler, and in 1939 he arrived in the United States. Soon after, he came to the University of Illinois as a professor of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. He received numerous honors for his teaching and scholarship, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, and in 1984 he served as president of the Linguistic Society of America. Kahane used to say that his strategy for creating the Department of Linguistics was “very simple”—even though it went on for nine years. “I made it a point to visit the dean every week and stress the importance of a department of linguistics on this campus,” said the late professor emeritus of linguistics. “He would throw me out the door and I would come back through the window. Finally, I succeeded.” For his efforts, the College of LAS created the department in 1965, and it’s been home to distinguished research in the field ever since.

1939
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Professor pioneers communication research

Professor Marie Nichols arrived at the University of Illinois in 1939 to teach and study communication, and she would remain in the College of LAS until her retirement in 1976. During this time she developed what became known as the “Illinois Tradition” of communication research, which included establishing the study of “public address,” introducing scholars to rhetorical theory, and otherwise examining how words influence action. “No one can study rhetoric and public address without being influenced by her work as an editor, a theorist, and critic,” wrote Jane Blankenship, who earned her doctoral degree under Nichols and later became president of the National Communication Association (NCA).

1939
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Illinois zoologist introduces field of comparative physiology

When hired as a professor of zoology at the University of Illinois in 1939, Clifford Prosser insisted on developing a new course that would teach some of the basic concepts of comparative physiology. By the end of his career, he was considered the “father” of modern studies in that field. In 1942, he led a group of 150 researchers to study the effects of radiation on organisms as part of the Manhattan Project, leading him to sign the famous Szilard-Einstein letter to President Truman warning against the use of a nuclear bomb. Prosser’s vision for new fields of study helped shape the College of LAS. He developed a broad-based program that led to the Department of Physiology, which became one of the best of its kind in the nation.

1939
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Chemistry Building renamed Noyes Laboratory

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. 1939
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University biochemist  discovers one of nine amino acids

Biochemist William C. Rose discovers threonine, one of the nine essential amino acids that people must obtain from food. 1935
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Mathematics professor advances modern probability theory

Though he grew up mainly in New York City, Joseph Doob felt at home in Champaign-Urbana, where he pioneered our understanding of mathematical probability and its interplay with other areas of mathematics. Doob joined the Department of Mathematics in 1935 and was an original member of the Center for Advanced Study when it began in 1959. Among his many honors, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Jimmy Carter. His book, Stochastic Processes, released in 1953, is recognized as one of the most influential books in the development of modern probability theory.

1935
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Great Depression affects Illinois; university halts Altgeld bells

When the Depression hits campus the University can no longer afford to pay its bell-ringer and the Altgeld bells go silent.  1933
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Lincoln Hall Theater houses the performing arts

The first play is performed in Lincoln Hall Theater. Titled Beggar on Horseback, it featured 72 students, some of whom went on to Broadway. 1930
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Lincoln Hall’s bronze bust  of Lincoln completed

Sculptor Herman Adkins McNeal completes the bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln, located in Lincoln Hall. Students over the years have been known to rub the Lincoln bust’s nose prior to exams for good luck. 1928
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University chemist innovates X-ray analysis

Every important discovery needs someone with the vision to put it into practical use. George Lindenberg Clark was one of those people, as he pioneered many aspects of X-ray analysis. Clark served as a professor of chemistry at Illinois from 1927-1960. Clark’s research included chemical, industrial, and medicinal uses for X-rays, and in 1945 he developed an X-ray tube that could withstand the heat generated by 50,000 volts for long periods of time. The new tube allowed researchers to gather data in seconds rather than minutes, and allowed for significant growth in the medical use of X-rays.

1927
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Professor adds scientific approach to Civil War studies

A professor of history in LAS from 1920-1950, James Randall was an acclaimed scholar on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. He was known for a methodological, scientific approach to researching history, and for possessing a distinct sense of neutrality when it came to evaluating the conflicting views in the Civil War. His work on Lincoln remains an important resource for historians today. In his most influential book, The Civil War and Reconstruction (1937), regarded for many years as one of the most important books on the period, Randall argued that traditional views that the Civil War was inevitable were “superficial.” On the contrary, he argued, war could have been avoided if not for extremists on both sides who made political compromise impossible.

1920
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Oriental Museum opens within Lincoln Hall

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. 1917
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Chemistry Building sees improvements

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. 1916
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Professor leads way for Chemistry Department

Roger Adams arrived at the University of Illinois as a young chemistry professor with a salary of $2,800 per year. Little did he know that someday a major campus building would bear his name. As professor and department head, he pioneered important breakthroughs in organic chemistry, devoted his services to the country during two world wars, and, by 1930, guided the Department of Chemistry to be one of the best in the country. During the 1920s, Adams trained 3 percent of American PhDs in all fields of chemistry. In 1929. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and he went on to receive most medals and awards open to scientists, and he received honorary doctorates from 10 institutions.

1916
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College of LAS established

College of Literature and Arts and College of Science merge into College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

1913
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Lincoln Hall  integrated as academic building; building’s eastern half completed

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. 1911
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Foellinger Auditorium  opens for campus usage

The Auditorium (today known as Foellinger Auditorium) is built in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson's Rotunda. 1907
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Stebbins  measures the Moon’s brightness

Dr. Joel Stebbins, director of the U of I Observatory, is the first astronomer in America to electrically measure the brightness of the Moon. 1907
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English Building  opens as woman’s activity center

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. 1905
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Renowned astronomist Joel Stebbins arrives to campus

Some of Professor Joel Stebbins’s most important discoveries were made before the University of Illinois even had a Department of Astronomy. Stebbins arrived at the University of Illinois in 1903 as director of the Observatory. Initially with no operating budget, he developed an academic program and conducted astronomical research that soon gained international recognition. He changed the way astronomers measured starlight. Astronomers once measured it with the naked eye or by using photographic film. Stebbins, however, did it with a selenium cell photometer (and later a photoelectric cell photometer) that he developed with physics professors. Through that method he made major discoveries, including his study of the eclipsing binary star Algol. Today, most astronomical data are gathered with an electric detector that can trace its origins to Stebbins. He also developed new mathematical methods for analyzing research data.

1903
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Illinois completes world’s largest single chemical laboratory

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, seven 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. 1902
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Davenport Hall opens doors for College of Agriculture

Davenport Hall opens to house the College of Agriculture, although it later becomes home to the Departments of Anthropology and Geography. 1899
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Altgeld Hall  completed

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. 1897
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University’s College of Law created

College of Literature and Arts sponsors the creation of the School of Law, which becomes the College of Law in 1900. 1896
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University’s Observatory opens

Astronomical Observatory opened in 1896. It stands on South Mathews Avenue in Urbana,Champaign County, Illinois. The observatory was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 6, 1986 and on December 20, 1989, the U.S. Department of Interior designated the observatory a National Historic Landmark. Though none of the astronomical instruments are being used for professional research today, the observatory still contains a 12" Brashear refractor. In 1913 physicist Jakob Kunz invents the photoelectric cell here, which becomes instrumental to photoelectric photometry, the technique used to measure celestial magnitudes. 1896
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University’s Graduate School established

The Graduate School is organized. The first doctoral examination was in the Department of Chemistry, in 1903, to D.W. Dehn. 1895
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Kinley creates Department of Economics

David Kinley’s first job out of graduate school was as assistant professor of economics at Illinois, where he was named full professor the following year. In 1895 he founded the Department of Economics. Kinley was a prolific teacher but also an effective administrator. He served as dean of the College of Literature and Arts (a precursor to the College of LAS) until 1906, and he was the first director of the School of Commerce, founded in 1902. There he was involved in negotiations that ultimately landed the Department of Political Science within LAS. He was appointed dean of the Graduate School in 1906 and served there until 1914, when he became vice president of the University. He was named acting president in 1919, and he served as president from 1920 to 1930. Under Kinley’s leadership, Illinois formed the College of Commerce and Business Administration in 1915.

1895
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Kinley  and Forbes reorganize literature, arts and science curricula

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." 1894
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Natural  History Building opens on campus

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. 1892
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Illinois Industrial University changes to University of Illinois

Illinois Industrial University officially changes its name to the University of Illinois. 1885
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College of Arts and Literature issues its first degrees

The College of Arts and Literature awards its first degrees in 1877. And in 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. 1877
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University implements literature and arts curriculum

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." The University also founds the College of Chemistry and the College of Natural History, which includes the Departments of Botany, Geology, and Zoology. 1873
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First campus laboratory built

The campus's first laboratory, which is devoted to chemistry, is constructed in the south wing of the original University Hall. 1869
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Illinois Industrial University founded

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. 1868
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Pioneer  botanist joins fledgling university

Thomas Burrill - Born in Pittsfield, Mass., Thomas J. Burrill is remembered in the world of botany as a “pioneer in plant pathology.” In 1868, he came to Illinois (then called the Illinois Industrial University) to teach algebra, and by 1870 he was appointed professor of botany and horticulture. Known for working sunrise to sundown, Burrill studied the plants of Illinois exhaustively and became known as a patient mentor. He became interested in pear-blight and theorized that it was caused by bacteria—unheard of at the time, but his research confirmed that the blight was caused by Micrococcus amylovorus. His finding was greeted with skepticism, particularly by botanists in Europe, but he was eventually proven correct, sealing his legacy. 1868