Sights and Sounds from the Illinois Sesquicentennial Celebration

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In honor of the University of Illinois sesquicentennial, iSEE is doing a series of pieces on the rich history of ecological and environmental research and breakthroughs on campus. Our articles, photos, and videos also will touch on student, faculty, and staff activism and leadership on behalf of Mother Earth in the past 150 years — which have ramped up considerably in the past few decades! And this series will explore the future of sustainability, clean energy, and environmental efforts at Illinois and abroad.

Full list of iSEE articles >>>

Check out the U of I sesquicentennial website at >>>


Sights and Sounds from the Illinois Sesquicentennial Kickoff Celebration

On Feb. 28, 2017, the University of Illinois’ three campuses officially kicked off a 15-month celebration of the University’s 150th birthday with a formal program at Krannert Center for Performing Arts. Many dignitaries, including the Chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, University President Timothy Killeen, the mayors of Urbana and Champaign, and Illinois Lt. Gov. Leslie Munger all took the microphone to offer their congratulations. Illinois’ most talented performers shared music and lyrics that recalled the struggles of the Civil War and years immediately following — the era during which the University was founded — and shared on the last day of Black History Month.

Couldn’t make the ceremony? We did, and we’re sharing our personal highlights with you. Happy Birthday, Illinois!

Faculty representing all colleges and departments process in for the celebration.
The Platform Party takes seats for the celebration. From left: Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert J. Jones, Master of Ceremonies Prof. Christopher Benson, UI Board of Trustees Chair Timothy Koritz, UI Board of Trustees member Edward L. McMillan, Springfield Student Trustee Nathan Hoffman, Urbana-Champaign Student Trustee Collin Schumock, University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen, Illinois Lt. Gov. Leslie Munger, State Rep. Carol Ammons.
A great crowd of students, staff, and faculty turned out to celebrate Illinois!
Master of Ceremonies Christopher Benson, a Professor of Journalism and African-American Studies at Illinois, eloquently welcomes the crowd to the 150th birthday party for the University of Illinois. Krannert’s Foellinger Great Hall is looking stunning in orange and blue, too!

“Illinois” by C.H. Chamberlain and Archibald Johnson. Performed by Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, Professor of Music and Director of the University of Illinois Black Chorus.

“At the Speed of Sound” composed by Eli Fieldsteel, Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Performed by the University of Illinois Wind Symphony under the direction of Elizabeth Peterson.
“Be of good cheer!” said University President Timothy Killeen, because our University is doing profound good in the lives of students and for our state.
Carol Ammons, State Representative for Illinois’ 103rd District, spoke passionately about the ability of the University of Illinois system to provide life-changing education — especially to people of color and other marginalized groups.
Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing and Champaign Mayor Deb Frank Feinen read a proclamation officially declaring February 2017 through May 2018 as the University of Illinois Sesquicentennial Year.

Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, Professor of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Jupiter Quartet (artists-in-residence Nelson Lee, violin; Meg Freivogel, violin; Liz Freivogel, viola; and Daniel McDonough, cello) perform the traditional black spiritual “Deep River.” This is a partial recording of their performance, which earned a standing ovation from the crowd.
Urbana-Champaign’s Chancellor Robert J. Jones: “Today, as we embark on our next 150 years, we have that same challenge: to define the land-grant mission for the 21st century. I’ll tell you right now that it is not going to be easy, but it is essential.”

The University of Illinois Chamber Singers perform “Shenandoah” as arranged by James Erb under the direction of Illinois Professor of Music Andrew Megill.

Nathan Gunn, Professor of Music at Illinois, and Julie Gunn, Associate Professor of Music at Illinois, perform “Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground” by Walter Kittredge, an arrangement by Julie Gunn.

Nathan and Julie Gunn’s moving performance of “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” by Jay Gorney and E.Y. Harburg earned them a standing ovation!

The University of Illinois Chamber Singers perform Mark Grizzard’s  new arrangement of the school song “Alma Mater” under the direction of Andrew Megill.
A celebration this big deserves a crowd-sized cake. And an ice sculpture? Of course.
Cupcakes spell out our founding year…
…and our sesquicentennial year!
Urbana Chancellor Robert J. Jones cuts the cake! He said he was up all night baking it for us. 😉
An awesome reception performance by Funkadesi, six-time Chicago Music Award winners!