Student Life at Illinois: 1900-1909


William Walter Smith, the first African-American graduate of the University, circa 1890s
William Walter Smith, the first African-American graduate of the University, circa 1890s


  • William Walter Smith became first African-American graduate of UI.
  • Omicron chapter of Chi Omega established.
  • Morrow chapter of agricultural fraternity Alpha Zeta founded.
  • Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Chi, Kappa Sigma, Phi Gamma Delta, Delta Tau Delta, Alpha Tau Omega, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Pi Beta Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Kappa Kappa Gamma installed in chapter houses.
  • University dining hall opened.
  • Literary magazine Varsity Fortnightly published.
  • Class of 1900 donated Senior Bench costing $250. Originally located north of University Hall, the Senior Bench now sits west of the Illini Union.


  • Trustees established school of dentistry.
  • Seniors decided to wear caps and gowns at commencement exercises.
  • Chicago Nationals baseball team (later known as The Cubs) established training quarters at University.
  • Students rioted at Pan-American circus, with several being injured.
  • Pan-Hellenic Council organized for purpose of adopting “inter-sorority rushing compact.”
  • Thomas Arkle Clark named dean of undergraduates. He would hold the post until 1931.
  • University Senate created.
  • Wave of hazing swept campus. In one incident, a freshman was dunked into the Boneyard two times.
  • Memorial exercises held for the late U.S. President William McKinley.
  • Squirrels introduced on campus.
  • Sigma Chi and Sigma Delta houses partially burned.
  • Agriculture Building (now Davenport Hall) completed.
Adelphic and Illiola Societies perform "She Stoops to Conquer," circa 1911
Adelphic and Illiola Societies perform “She Stoops to Conquer,” circa 1911


  • Philomathean and Adelphic societies convened their first joint meeting.
  • First concert of University orchestra held.
  • President Draper’s leg amputated after he was thrown from carriage.
  • Class of 1902 decided to leave memorial fountain. Originally situated north of University Hall, the fountain now sits between Altgeld Hall and the Henry Administration Building.
  • Rule promulgated decreeing the expulsion of students for visiting saloons and becoming intoxicated.
  • Council of Administration canceled freshman social.
  • Some 150 sophomores signed pledge to give up hazing.
  • Illini published five days a week.
  • Gamma Nu chapter of Sigma Nu installed.
  • First issue of The Illinois (later Illinois Magazine) appeared.
  • Alpha Delta Gamma and Theta Kappa Nu organized.
  • Rho chapter of Phi Kappa Sigma founded.
  • Men’s Gymnasium (now Kenney Gym) completed.


  • Former regent Selim Peabody died.
  • Outbreak of hazing made night “time of terror” for freshmen. Six students suspended for hazing.
  • Chemistry Laboratory (now Noyes Lab) completed.
Library Science Class of 1904
Library Science Class of 1904


  • Illiola literary society founded.
  • President Draper resigned. Edmund Janes James chosen as Draper’s successor.
  • Chapters of Sigma Xi, Phi Alpha Delta, and Phi Kappa Psi organized.
  • Beta Theta Pi house quarantined because of scarlet fever outbreak.
  • Eta Kappa Nu–an electrical engineering society– founded.
  • Six men suspended for hazing.
  • Dean of Women Viola Jayne resigned.
  • University of Illinois day held at St. Louis Exposition.
  • Western Conference rule barred freshmen from athletic teams.
  • Students’ cooperative association organized.
  • Class of 1904 donated flagstaff base to University. Bearing inscription ‘Class of 1904,’ this class memorial now anchors the flagpole in front of Kenney Gym Annex.


  • Captain of UI baseball team killed, several other students injured in train wreck.
  • Rule promulgated forbidding all absences.
  • Woman’s Building (now known as the English Building) dedicated.
  • Responsibilities of Dean of Women divided between Eunice Daniels and Martha Kyle.
  • Western Intercollegiate Basketball League organized.
  • Delta Upsilon chapter formed.
  • Class of 1905 donated lantern decorating north entrance of Library (Altgeld Hall).


  • Illinois basketball team defeated Indiana 27-24 in first game played by the Illini men.
  • Chapters of Sigma Kappa, Delta Rho Sigma and Acacia formed.
  • Ionian and Athenian literary societies organized.
  • First junior smoker held.
  • First interscholastic circus occurred.
  • Council of Administration allowed men to visit Woman’s Building from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. if they applied to the head of the Woman’s Hall.
  • Phenix–a new senior society– created.
  • Class of 1901 formed first permanent class organization among alumni.
  • Comprehensive alumni directory published.
  • Presbyterian synod established campus ministry.
  • Room in Burnham Hospital set aside as a student ward.
  • Cosmopolitan Club and Scribblers’ Club formed.
  • Mechanical Engineering Laboratory completed.
  • Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield became first African-American woman graduate of UI.
  • Class of 1906 donated sun dial to University. Originally situated on Green Street, the sun dial now rests in the rose garden on the grounds of the President’s House.
Painted for a Rainbow Illini Club meeting of the 42nd Infantry Division, circa 1918
Painted for a Rainbow Illini Club meeting of the 42nd Infantry Division, circa 1918


  • Students’ cooperative association disbanded.
  • Diphtheria outbreak killed one student.
  • First electrical engineering show held. This event would evolve into the Engineering Open House.
  • Illini student Ben Tomlinson won Rhodes scholarship.
  • Last saloon in Champaign-Urbana closed.
  • A two-story brick structure on northwest corner of Wright and Green streets was the first building for commercial purposes to be constructed near campus.
  • First issue of Alumni Quarterly published.
  • Name of Illini changed to Daily Illini and size expanded from four pages, five columns, to eight pages, four columns.
  • Lily Kollack appointed Dean of Women.
  • Auditorium dedicated.
  • Gamma chapter of Phi Beta Kappa installed.
  • First public presentation of football ‘I’s’ occurred.
  • Delta Tau Delta house damaged by fire.
  • Class of 1907 gave to University bust of Longfellow, sculpted by Lorado Taft.


  • Re-organized Graduate School formally opened.
  • State Board of Health ordered vaccination of students because of smallpox outbreak in Champaign-Urbana.
  • YMCA building completed.
  • Jewish student society Ivrim organized.
  • Committee on Student Organizations created.
  • Phi Kappa Psi launched a new fraternity district south of John Street when they built a house at 911 S. Fourth Street. Before this, most fraternity houses were on Green Street.
  • Council of Administration requested that all student gatherings end by midnight.
  • Daily Illini expanded to eight pages, five columns.
  • Women’s basketball team received sweaters from the senior class.
  • Push ball contest took place of color rush.
Members of Hobo Band, 1909
Members of Hobo Band, 1909


  • Illini Club of Chicago formed with 290 members.
  • Scabbard and Blade, a military social fraternity, organized.
  • Intending to “promote Illinois spirit by all possible means,” the Illinois Union organized with 500 members.
  • The nine Chinese students at the University gave an entertainment in Morrow Hall.
  • Under the direction of the Illinois Union, three thousand students held a “spring celebration.”
  • Trustees approved granting of J.D. degree.
  • Streetcar tracks taken up from Green Street.
  • Rule 41 took effect, forbidding from graduation those students whose grades in 25 percent of their classes were below 75 percent.
  • The Illinois revived as Illinois Magazine.
  • Physics Laboratory (now Materials Science and Engineering Building) completed.
  • Class of 1909 donated drinking fountain to University. Though no longer used for drinking, the fountain still stands in front of Kenney Gym.

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