Dads Association celebrates 100 years


Photo courtesy of Illini Dads Association Website

The Illini Dads Association is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. The organization provides students with ways to connect and succeed within the University through scholarships and Dads Weekend.

By Cecilia Milmoe, Features Editor

The University’s Dads Association, the oldest-known parents’ association in the country, is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. With a century of helping students under its belt, the organization has much in store for its centennial anniversary.

The Dads Association is a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide students with “opportunities to succeed and to build relationships within the Illini family.” This goal is achieved through scholarships for students and events such as Dads Weekend.

Larry Mason, president of the Dads Association and University alum, said he is “honored” to be a part of the organization.

“I’m just incredibly proud to be part of an organization that has a 100-year track record of being a success story,” Mason said. “There aren’t many organizations of any type, whether it’s a nonprofit organization, like the Dads Association, or a business, or even an educational institution that can say they’ve actually had 100 years of success.”

Mason said that the organization has a long history of providing scholarships to students.
“In the over 100-year history, we have raised and gifted over a million dollars to University students, and those are through scholarships and grants,” Mason said. “This generally is, on average, $25,000 a year to different students and student registered student organizations.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Mason also said that there have been times when the Dads Association has provided funding to “other worthy organizations that support the University community,” including the University of Illinois Police Department, which received funding that was used for bicycles and Segways.

Mason said that he wants students to be aware of the opportunities the Dads Association provides to them, saying that they shouldn’t be overlooked.

“We’re very happy to help in any way we can to ensure that students are supported, comforted and provided with what they need to achieve their goals at the University and beyond,” Mason said.

A major part of the organization’s centennial anniversary is the Illini Dads Centennial Plaza, which has already begun construction at the corner of Lincoln and Illinois Street. The plaza is expected to be completed by 2023, and Mason said he believes it will become an important spot on campus.

“It will be a place that will honor the role and impact of dads and father figures and the importance that they have in the lives of their Illini students,” Mason said. “It will be a place of love of support, a place that will always be uplifting and it will be a sanctuary where people will hopefully always find a location on campus to evoke positive memories and find new ones.”

Mason said one cornerstone feature of the plaza will be a seven-foot tall, 70-foot-wide curved wall, which will be the location of an “evolving public art space.” Mason said the first curation on the wall will be completed by two faculty members, but over time, students will see the art on the wall change.

“Future generations of the board of directors for the Dads Association will oversee the ever-changing art display, so that students throughout some portion of their four-year undergraduate education experience should see a changeover of the art,” Mason said.

He added that the foundational elements of the plaza began with a course through the Siebel Center for Design. Students were tasked with helping to design several areas of the plaza, including the public art space.

In addition to the plaza, Mason said that this year’s Dads Weekend, which lasts from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6, will have plenty of exciting events. Mason said that there will be many sporting events in addition to the Illini Dads 5K.

To commemorate the centennial anniversary, Dads Weekend will also have plenty of special merchandise which celebrates the 100 years of the Dads Association.

Mason said he finds satisfaction in being a part of “decades of great people” who have worked with students and helped with their journeys at the University.

“Truly, I believe that there are very few things in life that are more important than making a positive difference in the lives of a young or person,” he said. “And certainly, making a positive difference in the lives of a young Illini is one of my great joys in life.”

[email protected]