Sesquicentennial celebrations at the University come to a close


Brian Bauer

Chancellor Robert Jones speaks at the sesquicentennial celebration at the Krannert Center on Feb. 28. Seven University faculty members were awarded the 2017 Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence Award.

By Rebecca Wood, Staff Writer

As the school year comes to a close, so does the University’s sesquicentennial celebrations commemorating the school’s history over the last 150 years.

Laura Wilhelm-Barr, director of special events for the Chancellor’s Office, has overseen several sesquicentennial events over the past 15 months, including the initial kick-off, a series of musical performances and the upcoming commencement.

Wilhelm-Barr said her office has been involved in the planning of University-wide events, rather than the smaller events planned by the sesquicentennial committee.

“Units across campus have held their own sesquicentennial celebrations,” Wilhelm-Barr said. “So I’ve only been involved in the book-end events.”

The kick-off in February 2017 consisted of a series of talks and presentations commemorating the accomplishments of the University’s societal impact since its establishment in 1867, said Pradeep Khanna, chair of the planning committee for the sesquicentennial.

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“Again, the focus there was to celebrate our accomplishments to society and to renew our commitment to the land-grant mission of the University moving forward,” Khanna said.

Khanna said the University hosted a conference in April entitled Illinois 150: The 21st Century University and Research for the Public Good.

“The focus was there to highlight the faculty and research and to see how our faculty and research are transforming the society,” Khanna said.

According to the website, Illinois 150 gathered together Illinois faculty, “We published a series of three books highlighting different aspects of our accomplishments,” Khanna said.

Khanna said there have been three books published about the University during the last 15 months, about innovations, athletics and architecture.

The final event for the sesquicentennial celebration is the commencement on May 12 at Memorial Stadium. Like last year, there will be confetti cannons to celebrate the 150 years.

“The sesquicentennial celebration wraps up with commencement this May,” Wilhelm-Barr said. “So May 2018 marks the end of the sesquicentennial celebration.”

Wilhelm-Barr encourages graduating seniors to stay until tassel-turn to experience the confetti and get another picture in the block “I”, similar to that of their freshman year.

Khanna said the University stoles will still have the sesquicentennial logo on it, and there will be speakers at commencement talking about the school’s accomplishments over the last 150 years.

Wilhelm-Barr said the amount of alumni involvement has a positive effect on the impact of the celebrations.

“I think it just helps us look back at the achievements over the last 150 years, the progress we’ve made, and helps us to celebrate what we have to look forward to in the future,” Wilhelm-Barr said.

Khanna said the sesquicentennial provided a natural opportunity to take part in the introspection of what the University has done, as well as to think about future plans.

“We as a University have made an impact on our world that transcends the national boundaries and the impact has gone all over the world,” Khanna said.

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