Alma Mater gone from campus, but active on social media

Although the Alma Mater is but an empty space on campus this year, she stays present by communicating to the campus through her Twitter “@Illinois_Alma”: Alma took some time out of her hectic schedule to have a conversation with the Daily Illini to answer some of the questions we’ve always wondered.

*Daily Illini*: So Alma, I see that you have left campus for a little vacation. Where did you go?

*Alma Mater:* It’s a sort of spa for sculptures – Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio, based in Forest Park, Ill., near Chicago.

*DI:* Who is your closest group of friends on campus?

*AM:* That’s a tough one. I love all of my students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, friends and fans, but Red Grange, Grainger Bob, Labor, Learning and I have a lot in common.

*DI:* What is your favorite time of the year and why?

*AM:* Oh, there are so many! I definitely love the start of a new school year when my students and faculty return to campus. Homecoming is fantastic, because so many of my alumni come home to visit. But graduation might be my absolute favorite. All of my happy children take pictures with me as they prepare to go out into the world and make a big impact. And I often recognize their parents, grandparents and siblings too from their days as students! I’m already looking forward to being back on campus this spring for the class of 2013.

*DI:* A lot of people tend to climb all over you. How does that make you feel?

*AM:* Nervous! A mother is always worried that her children will fall! But I just consider people climbing on me to be their version of hugs. And hugs are awesome.

*DI:* What is your favorite thing about University students?

*AM:* Their youth! But seriously, I love their ambition. They are all ready to take on the world. Nothing makes me more proud.

*DI:* What do you like to do in your free time?

*AM:* A mother never has any free time, dear, but I do love to people watch!

*DI:* What is your arm work out? Because you can really hold those suckers out and extended for a long time.

*AM:* I have my secrets!

*DI:* Why do you love the University’s campus?

*AM:* There is a great balance of time-honored tradition mixed in with the state-of-the-art here. And the change of seasons (trust me, I’ve seen quite a few!) is beautiful in this Midwestern setting.

*DI:* What is your relationship with the many squirrels on campus like?

*AM:* Sometimes I have to remind them to share and be nice, but mostly, they are wonderful. And they — “Quad Oskee”: in particular — love to entertain me with stories about the things they see (and eat) on campus.

*DI:* Where did you get your name “Alma Mater”?

*AM:* From my stylist, Lorado Taft, when he made me, Learning, and Labor in 1929.

*DI:* What is your best advice to students?

*AM:* Oh, I give advice all year long: study hard, use your hand sanitizer, look both ways before crossing the street, iron that gown before graduation, call your parents…

_Haley can be reached at [email protected]_