It has been such an exciting and wonderful week to be part of the Illinois family. With the warmer temperatures, the campus has become so vibrant. And we’ve had many things to celebrate.
The most obvious news last week was the return of the Alma Mater. On the morning of Wednesday, April 9, our beloved campus icon was returned home to its rightful pedestal. After it was sent to a conservator in August 2012, it was discovered that the damage was more extensive than originally thought. Now, after having more than 1,000 bolts replaced and its exterior surface laser-cleaned, it has been restored to its bronze finish.
The sculpture has emerged as a symbol of pride for all members of the Illinois family. This was especially apparent during the return as crowds of people gathered to watch the reinstallation and thousands more joined in across the globe on the Alma Mater Web Cam. We are so happy it is back on campus. In June, there will be an event to celebrate its return, and I hope you will all be able to attend.
More exciting news came on Thursday, April 10, when it was announced that five of our Illinois professors –Asef Bayat, sociology; Joy Harjo, American Indian studies; Catherine Prendergast, English; Stephan Andrew Taylor, Illinois Modern Ensemble, and Deke Weaver, School of Art and Design - had been named 2014 Guggenheim Fellows. The winners are selected on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise. We are so proud that out of nearly 3,000 applicants, five of the 178 North American artists, scholars and scientists honored were our faculty members.
It was also Inclusive Illinois Week from April 7-11. From the Many Voices conversations to the Fashionable Fundraiser to the lecture by LGBTQ activist Zach Wahls, the week was aimed at giving Illinois an even more inclusive climate. I want to thank all of the organizers and attendees for helping to support that mission. Though the official week is now over, I hope that conversations discussing diversity will be a regular, continuous part of the Illinois experience.
I have been so honored and excited to part of this community, and I cannot wait to see what else we will accomplish together in the coming months. As I have said often at various speaking engagements in the last few weeks, it truly is a wonderful time to be at Illinois.
Around the campus
This week is Undergraduate Research Week. Support our brilliant students by attending one of the events from April 13-18. View a full list of events here.
There are still tickets available for the 16th Annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival. This year's event runs from April 23-27. To purchase tickets, visit the Virginia Theatre's website.
More than 75 years ago, Marian Anderson inspired millions of people fighting for civil rights with a powerful concert. On April 26, Illinois professor Ollie Watts Davis will recreate that famous performance at the Lincoln Memorial. Read the full story here.