U of I was established in 1867 under the name Illinois Industrial University. It was later changed to University of Illinois in 1885, remaining that way for almost 100 years, until the name was changed again in 1982 to add “Urbana-Champaign” to the end.
When the university first opened, it had only two faculty members and a handful of students. The school’s higher-ups initially debated whether the institution should concentrate on industrial studies or the liberal arts. The University of Illinois title was adopted when administrators settled on an interdisciplinary approach to education.
U of I, known for its picturesque landscapes and red brick buildings, is divided into four quads. Among the many amenities on campus is Willard Airport, which serves as a research center and receives flights from two commercial airlines.
There are many places for students to get together on campus.
The Union is one of the most popular on-campus hangouts. The basement of the Union contains a food court; a student lounge equipped with arcade games, pool tables, and TVs; and a bowling alley. Additionally, the Union plays host to a variety of shows and performances, such as the Illinites dance crew, film screenings, and a number of student-run groups and organizations. Upstairs at the Union is the Courtyard Café, where students can hang out and get coffee, bagels, and the like. During the day, students take advantage of the Union as a place to study quietly between classes.
Two other popular hangouts are the East Wing and CRCE, the two fitness buildings on campus. These two facilities, each of which contains basketball courts, weights and weight machines, and treadmills, are almost always crowded. CRCE also houses racquetball courts, an indoor soccer field, an indoor track, and a pool. CRCE and the East Wing are the site of a number of intramural sporting events, as well as many pickup basketball, volleyball, and soccer games.
Of course, no discussion of popular on-campus hangouts would be complete without mentioning the bars of Campus Town. Although there are many bars in the heart of Campus Town, two of the most popular are Joe’s and Brothers. During the day, Joe’s serves burgers, sandwiches, and wings. At night, it becomes one of the most crowded bars on campus, with music and tables outside, a bar in the front, and dancing in the back. Brothers is another popular bar on campus, with dancing on the ground level (though it’s more of a ‘hangout’ bar than a dance bar) and tables upstairs. It has a number of big screen TVs, so it’s a great spot for watching sporting events. Other popular bars on campus include Firehaus, Clybourns, Legends, and Fubar. On any given night (especially weekends), these bars are extremely crowded and are a great place to meet new people. Students must be 19 to enter the bars on campus, and they must be 21 to buy alcohol.
The University of Illinois is located in Urbana and Champaign, Illinois. Though it straddles two municipalities.
The Champaign-Urbana area definitely retains a small-town feel despite being home to one of the largest public universities in the United States. Containing a few movie theaters, a handful of museums, and plenty of restaurants, Champaign-Urbana often seems like a quintessential college town.
In Champaign, Green Street’s retail stores make it a popular destination for students. The area is about two hours by car from Indianapolis, and it takes just slightly longer to drive to Chicago.
Many college traditions revolve around the consumption of alcohol, and U of I is no different in this respect.
One unofficial tradition we have here at the University of Illinois is Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, which takes place every year, usually the Friday before St. Patrick’s Day. ‘Unofficial,’ as it is known on campus, is widely considered the biggest party weekend of the year, when thousands of college students use the Irish holiday as an excuse for nonstop revelry. Not only is Unofficial celebrated by thousands of students from the university, but thousands more come from other colleges and universities to join in on the celebration. During the weekend, the bars are extremely crowded with the 21-and-over crowd, while younger students usually find a house party other gathering at which to enjoy the festivities.
Dick Butkus (attended 1962-1964) is a Hall of Fame NFL linebacker.
Jerry Colangelo (1962) is chairman of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
Jon Corzine (A.B. 1969) is the governor of New Jersey and former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs.
Steve Dorner (1983) and Jawed Karim (2004) are co-founders of YouTube.
Roger Ebert (1964) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic.
Red Grange was a legendary football running back, elected to both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
George Halas was the longtime coach of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
Hugh Hefner (1949) is the founder of Playboy magazine.
Jesse Jackson (attended) is a noted civil rights leader and former Democratic presidential candidate.
Gene Shalit (1949) is a film critic for NBC’s The Today Show.
The University of Illinois’ Division I programs have produced several superstar athletes, including football greats Red Grange and Dick Butkus. Several of its teams are in contention every year.
As a member of the Big Ten, the University of Illinois is home to a number of highly competitive and respected athletic programs. Although the basketball and football teams receive the most attention, the tennis team is one of the highest-ranked in the nation, and our wrestling team is slowly moving up the national ranks as well. Sporting events are extremely popular at the university, and tickets (especially for basketball games) are hard to come by.
In 2005, students got to see their Fighting Illini men’s basketball team win the Big Ten title and go all the way to the national championship game in 2005, where they lost to UNC. While students may enjoy cheering on their Fighting Illini, many are often playing sports of their own. As one of the largest public universities in the country, Illinois has an extensive collection of club teams and intramural leagues.
Eleanor Roosevelt cut the cake at the dedication of the Illini Union.
A 1976 Elvis Presley concert drew the largest crowd ever to gather at Assembly Hall.
Approximately 50 percent of U of I students live on campus, and the school operates more than 35 residence halls and apartment buildings. There are dorms to fit the personalities of most students, from the bookworm to the party animal.
When most high school graduates imagine going to college and living on their own, not many of them choose to acknowledge the fact that for the next year (or two), they will be crammed into a 12’ by 12’ room with all of their stuff and another person. While this is the case for many freshmen on campus, the dorms are really not as bad as one might think. Although they sound small, there is usually more than enough room for everyone’s things. Each dorm room comes with a desk, bed, and closet for each resident. Additionally, it should be pointed out that not all dorm rooms come with air conditioning. Although this may sound like a minor consideration, having air conditioning for those few hot months on campus makes your stay in the dorms that much more comfortable. All of the rooms in ISR and FAR are air-conditioned, while PAR, Allen, and the dorms of the Six Pack only have air conditioning in the dining halls and the lounges.
In terms of decibel and activity levels, ISR is usually considered to be the ‘nerdy’ dorm: it is typically the quietest dorm and is the best choice for those who want to get a lot of work done in their rooms. The tradeoff is that this dorm is often less social than some of the others. While people in ISR often leave their doors open and converse with hallmates, the volume level is relatively low and you’re unlikely to find much ‘partying’ going on within the dorm. If you’re the type of person who would prefer a louder, livelier atmosphere, then the ‘Six Pack’ (Garner, Forbes, Hopkins, Weston, Snyder, and Scott) or FAR/PAR would be the dorms for you. These are often considered the ‘social’ dorms because they contain more of the partygoing type. FAR/PAR are some of the largest dorms on campus, and they usually contain a lot of incoming freshmen, so it’s a great place to meet new people. The Six Pack is usually known as the home of the future frat guys and sorority girls. Needless to say, one can always find something to do in the Six Pack. However, it is important to remember that with this fun and excitement can also come with some noise and distractions, and it is not as easy to study in your room if you live in the Six Pack or FAR/PAR.
Students often try to pick a dorm that is not only close to their classes, but also close to the bars, fitness centers, and the frats and sororities. ISR, the ‘engineering dorm,’ is near the engineering quad, the main quad, and a majority of the academic buildings on campus, and is also about five minutes from the major bars on Green St. and CRCE, the smaller of the two fitness buildings on campus. Owing to its prime location, many people choose to live in ISR for multiple years, so it can be difficult for new students to get a spot there. Students who have most of their classes at the southwest end of campus usually choose one of the dorms in the Six Pack. These dorms are further away from the main quad and the bars than ISR, but they are located right across the street from IMPE, the larger of the two fitness centers on campus, and are close to Memorial Stadium, Assembly Hall, and the intramural fields. There are also a number of frat houses just north of the ‘Six Pack.’ The last of the major dorms on campus are FAR/PAR. These dorms are on the extreme southeast end of campus, farther from the main quad and the bars. They are about a five- to ten-minute walk from CRCE, and about five minutes from the southeast set of intramural fields. There are also a number of sorority houses close to FAR/PAR. A fourth dorm to be considered is Allen Hall, which is known as the ‘artsy’ hall because of its proximity to the art building and concentration of art students who live there. Allen, like FAR/PAR, is about five minutes from CRCE, but is considerably closer to the main quad.