Top 10 moments of the Fall 2017 semester

By Rebecca Wood, Staff Writer

Nearing the end of the semester, it’s time to look back on some major moments, in no particular order, that hit the University of Illinois this fall.

1. Suburban Express sends controversial email

At the beginning of December, bus company Suburban Express sent a racially offensive email advertisement for students to take the bus Christmas break.

Within a list of several bullet points convincing students to go home for the holidays, one read, “You won’t feel like you’re in China when you’re on our busses.”

In an apology email sent shortly after the incident, Suburban Express said though they apologize, they do disagree with how the University is being run. The apology read, “that the mission of the University of Illinois should be providing high-quality, affordable education to the citizens of Illinois.”

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The University has condemned this behavior and informed students they hold no business relationship with the bus company.

The Illinois Student Government just passed a resolution to boycott Suburban Express. In early December, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a subpoena regarding the transportation company’s potential civil rights violation under the Illinois Human Rights Act.  

“The diversity of the student body adds to the educational value that the U of I provides, which is why we stand with the Asian and Asian American student community on this issue,” said Max Weiss, communications director for Illini Democrats.  

2. Students protest the Chief at the Homecoming Parade

This fall’s Homecoming Parade was met with more than its usual Illini fans.

An anti-Chief Illiniwek protest blocked the parade that night, organized by the Illinois Student Government. Protesters lined the street at Wright and Green and were met by a group of University police officers. Protesters shouted “not our mascot” and held signs that read “no more chief.”

“Beyond the protest, there needs to be action by the administration toward finding a new mascot so we can move beyond the Chief years and into a future where we put racist symbols behind us,” Weiss said.

3. Student is named as Rhodes Scholar

Thomas Dowling, senior in LAS, was one of 32 students in the United States to receive the highly competitive Rhodes scholarship —the first chosen from the University since 1998.

Dowling was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago by a single mother and is the first to attend college in his family.

He said he has been working toward this scholarship since he was a freshman, and once he gets to Oxford plans to either get his Doctorate of Philosophy in politics, or two concurrent masters in public policy and social science research design. He hopes to return and serve in Illinois state legislature.

“Though it had been 20 years since a University of Illinois student was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, it was no surprise that Thomas Dowling broke this drought,” said David Schug, director of National and International scholarship. “Thomas Dowling gets things done. Thomas has the temperament, work ethic and motivation needed to lead our state (Illinois).”

4. University plans to build a new institute in Chicago

In November, the University announced plans to build a center for innovative research, the Discovery Partners Institute.

Based in the technological hub of Chicago, the University is partnering with Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and the Israeli government. The institute is planning on receiving the $1.2 billion initiative from private donors and business partnerships. The faculty there could potentially bring in $500 million annually from research.

According to the University press release from November, the institute will initially serve a couple hundred students enrolled at the University and its partnering universities, but will eventually expand to 1,800 students at its full operation.

“This unique new institute will add to the momentum that has been developing to create an innovation infrastructure at the kind of scale that can massively accelerate progress and economic development in our state,” said Tim Killeen, University of Illinois president. “It will build on the U of I System’s long, rich history of pioneering innovation, a legacy of service to Illinois and to this global city that dates back more than a century.”

5. Andreas Cangellaris is named new vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost

As of November, former professor, researcher and Dean at the University, Andreas Cangellaris, has been named new vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost. Before leading the College of Engineering, Cangellaris served as the head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering until 2013.

He, along with other faculty members and administrators, developed a plan that led to the creation of the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine. He also plans to introduce the new Siebel Center for Design in spring 2018 due to the preliminary work developed.

“There is nothing more valuable than the sharing in the learning of the new and the pursuit of the better,” Cangellaris said. “It shatters the walls of uncertainty, angst and fear, and brings the world together in powerful and consequential ways. It is the bedrock of our mission.”

6. College of Business receives $150 million donation

This past October, the University received a $150 million donation from alumni Larry and Beth Gies, giving the College of Business the new name: Gies College of Business.

Being the first college at the University to be named, the donation is said to aid with additional resources going toward scholarships, student programs and hiring new faculty.

Jeffrey Brown, professor and dean of the Gies College of Business, said he is hopeful this will draw more students to the University and develop an image of being the best and most innovative school.

“This gift is transformative, and will allow us to increase access, enhance our excellence and be ever more innovative,” Brown said.

7. Graduate students protest contracts

The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) has been working without a new contract since Aug. 15, and has been working on compromising terms since then. Maria Garth, GEO’s communications officer,  said the minimum salary for graduate employees is $16,360, while the University’s published living wage is well over $22,000.

She said most of their contract has yet to be negotiated. Graduate students have threatened to strike if negotiations are not met, causing a large impact with the undergraduate population as many grad students serve as teaching assistants.

8. Hugh Hefner dies

On Sept. 27, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner died at age 91 of natural causes, surrounded by family in the Playboy mansion. Hefner graduated from the University of Illinois in 1949 after 2 ½ years, majoring in psychology and double minoring in art and creative writing.

During his time at the University, he was a cartoon artist for The Daily Illini and a member of Psi Chi, psychology honor society. After graduation, Hefner ended up as editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine and chief creative officer of Playboy enterprises.

9. Accountancy program ranks No. 2 in U.S. News and World Report

The University’s College of Business accountancy program ranked second out of 38 other schools, according to U.S. News and World Report. Nearly half of the College of Business population graduates with a finance degree, with over 400 degrees granted annually. U.S. News and World Report based its ranking on 15 indicators of academic quality, including judgment of deans, acceptance rates, financial aid and assessments by administrators at similar universities.

“We produce the next business leaders through an innovative curriculum that combines accounting fundamentals, data analytic competencies and strong communication skills,” said Brooke Elliott, accountancy department head.

10. Four alumni are named to Forbes 30 under 30

Four alumni from the University have been named to Forbes 30 under 30 2018 list in the fall. Ritu Raman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the list, focuses her work on applying new materials and technologies, like using 3-D printers to build muscle-powered robots.

Vinay Hiremath is now the co-founder of Loom, a platform used to create and share videos with a powerful video recorder capable of capturing your screen, webcam and microphone, used by more than 250,000 employees.

Jordan Buckner is the founder of TeaSquares, which makes tea-infused energy snacks without artificial ingredients and contain naturally occurring caffeine. Matt Meyer is a talent agent for Paradigm Talent Agency, and has represented artists like Halsey, Krewella, Steve Angello and Cash Cash.

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