It was only 16 degrees at 11 a.m. on February 22, 1965, for the opening of the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle (UICC) campus. ROTC cadets stretched three symbolic ribbons on the walkway leading into the north side of the Science and Engineering Laboratory in front of the various dignitaries on hand for the historic event. The dignitaries included Governor Otto Kerner, U of I Board of Trustees President Howard Clement, University President David Dodds Henry, Circle Chancellor Norman Parker, UICC Student Congress President Anthony Podesta, and, of course, Mayor Richard J. Daley. Kerner, Daley and Henry each cut one of the ceremonial ribbons to officially open the new campus.
No one was more proud than Mayor Daley. For nearly 30 years, he worked to realize the dream of establishing a public degree-granting state university in the heart of Chicago. “Our world," he proclaimed, "is becoming more and more urbanized. Of necessity, a university which truly seeks to meet the needs of society must be a part of urban life. Just as universities make great cities, so too, great cities make great universities — and the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle is destined to be one of the great universities of our nation.”
Phase I construction continued on the campus and stretched into summer of 1965. At the opening, the only major work outstanding was the top five floors of University Hall. Other tasks to be completed included minor work, “punch list” items, and the replacement of the granite stairs north of the Lecture Center, which arrived cracked from the shipping docks.
For a time, Circle Campus was the fastest growing campus in the country. Enrollment started at around 5,000 students, grew to almost 8,500 by winter quarter, 1965-66, and then climbed to 17,500 by 1970-71 — an increase of 250 percent in just five years.
For more, see these UIC ARCHIVES collections:
- 086 Photograph Subject File
- 055-00-01 U of I Chicagoan (alumni newspaper). Mar issue contains ceremony text.
- 070-00-01 Chicago Illini (student newspaper). 1965 Feb 1 issue contains written comments from four ribbon-cutting speakers and campus preview. 1965 Mar 1 issue includes ribbon-cutting coverage and conclusion of Student Congress President Anthony Podesta’s remarks, which were not includes in their entirety in the U of I Chicagoan.
- 003-21-02 Office of the UIC Historian — Research and Administrative Records
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