“Two thumbs up” for The Ebert Center

 The College of Media is currently in the process of developing The Ebert Center, a $5 million project which will honor the late Roger Ebert, a 1964 University alumnus and former editor-in-chief of The Daily Illini. 

Ebert was universally known for his film criticism career for the Chicago Sun-Times that lasted from 1967 until his death in 2013.  While Ebert and his wife, Chaz, got the ball rolling to start the center in 2009, The Ebert Center will be at least be starting their fellowship program next year. 

The Ebert Center will provide students with opportunities to earn fellowships and internships while also hosting speaking events with professionals from the media field. This project finally brings acknowledgement and recognition to one of the University’s most notable graduates who, as a UI and The Daily Illini alumnus and Champaign-Urbana native, always gave back to this community.

For Ebert, the Champaign-Urbana community was a large influence on his humble, yet stern stance in his film reviews. For 17 years, Ebert has thanked the C-U community with his annual film festival — Ebertfest, which this year will kick off April 15.  The Ebert Center only continues to expand this legacy and his continued gifts to the community and University.

In 2012, Ebert sent a letter to The Daily Illini’s alumni network to help us as a publication financially with donations, writing, “Many, including myself, would say that they owe their careers at least in part to their experience at Illini Media.”  

It was with Ebert’s help that Illini Media continues on today, and the creation of The Ebert Center will continue Ebert’s legacy and greatly benefit media students, giving them a chance to explore the field and its current prospects.

Even though other University programs, departments and colleges continue to grow and deservedly garner more attention, the College of Media landscape is quickly evolving and media majors are left unsure of possible future careers. 

While the decline in student enrollment in the humanities has been widely discussed, the College of Media has actually expanded. With Media’s enrollment nearly doubling over the last 10 years, it is in great need of more funding and opportunities, which will be established through The Ebert Center, and hopefully other avenues. 

On the creation of the center, Chaz Ebert said, “The Ebert Center is one way we will not only honor Roger’s life’s work, but also continue it.”