Student Life at Illinois: 1920-1929


President Edmund James and the chimes prior to their dedication, October 1920
President Edmund James and the chimes prior to their dedication, October 1920


  • Women’s Club damaged by fire.
  • First all-University mixer held.
  • David Kinley assumed the UI presidency from the retiring Edmund James.
  • Library (Altgeld Hall) chimes dedicated to the University as gifts from the classes 1914-1921.
  • Chapters of Phi Epsilon Pi and Alpha Epsilon Phi established.
  • Alpha Alpha Alpha organized.
  • First Dad’s Day held.
  • Smith Memorial Music Hall and Education Building (now University High School) completed.


  • First Mom’s Day held.
  • Dads Association established.


University High School Proposal, circa 1919
University High School Proposal, circa 1919


  • Mothers Association established.
  • First broadcast of campus radio station occurred on April 6, 1922. Dean of Men Thomas Arkle Clark delivered a talk on “Why College Students Fail.”
  • During commencement address, Lorado Taft presented plaster cast of Alma Mater statuary group. Plaster cast was displayed on Auditorium steps.
  • University High School opened its doors to 63 students.
  • Cement surface installed on Boardwalk, which ultimately became known as the Broadwalk.


  • Sigma Pi Alpha installed.
  • Maria Leonard named Dean of Women.
  • Hillel Foundation established on campus.
  • Horticultural Field Laboratory completed.
  • Illinois defeated Chicago 7-0 in first football game played at Memorial Stadium.
  • Football team won national championship title.
  • First Axe-Grinder’s Ball held.
Red Grange, Illinois halfback, after his last game played for the University, circa 1925
Red Grange, Illinois halfback, after his last game played for the University, circa 1925


  • Freshman women’s honor society Alpha Lambda Delta formed.
  • A May 3, 1924, Daily Illini editorial condemned newly revised Interfraternity Council constitution which provided admittance to Jewish fraternities but not to African-American ones.
  • Illinois athletes won three gold medals and one silver medal in track and field at the Olympics.
  • On Memorial Stadium’s dedication day, Red Grange scored four touchdowns in the first twelve minutes in a game against Michigan. Grange would make two more touchdowns and the Illini would go on to win 39-14 in one of the most famous games in college football history.
  • New Agriculture Building (now Mumford Hall) completed.


  • Crossword puzzle craze swept campus.
  • On March 9th student riot at Orpheum Theater caused $800 in damages.
  • Registration snafus forced dismissal of classes.
  • Ex-President James died.
  • Illibuck tradition with Ohio State began. Initially, a live turtle was given to the winner of the Illinois-Ohio State football game, but after the turtle’s death in 1927, a wooden replica served as the trophy.
  • Bronze Tablet established to honor seniors of the highest scholastic standing.
  • Seventeen fraternities boycotted Midway Confectionery on Fourth Street in a bid to force store out of fraternity district.
  • New Men’s Gymnasium (now Huff Hall), New Commerce Building (now David Kinley Hall), West Residence Hall (Evans Hall), and McKinley Hospital completed.
Smallpox notice, 1938
Smallpox notice, 1938


  • Smallpox outbreak struck campus, with 30 cases reported.
  • During annual spring celebration, some 2,000 students marched in downtown Champaign, causing seven injuries and $1405 in damages.
  • Lester Leutwiler became the first Chief Illiniwek, debuted during football game against University of Pennsylvania.
  • National Spanish honor society organized.
  • Number of sororities on campus reached 36, up from 20 in 1920.
  • No-car rule imposed restricting driving on campus.
  • First unit of Main Library completed.




Football Program, Northwestern, 1927
Football Program, Northwestern, 1927


  • Roller-skating craze engulfed campus.
  • Smoking banned on campus.
  • April 4th hailstorm damaged greenhouses and other buildings to the extent of $22,665.
  • Five-day Thanksgiving holiday established.
  • Football team won national championship title.


  • Spring semester experienced record enrollment of 9547.
  • Phi Omega Pi sorority quarantined for smallpox.
  • The Marching Illini created the 3-in-1 formation.
  • Organization of independent men formed.
  • Newman Foundation opened dining hall to public.
  • Memorial Stadium received a new scoreboard.
  • Council of Administration adopted revised rushing rules.
  • International Council of Foreign Students organized.
  • Architecture Building completed.
Football Program, Northwestern, 1927
Alma Mater dedication ceremony, June 11, 1929


  • Quarantine imposed after outbreak of scarlet fever.
  • Chapter of Sigma Phi Beta installed.
  • Early May storm blanketed campus with 1-inch of snow.
  • Alma Mater statuary group dedicated during ceremony held on commencement day. Sculptor Lorado Taft was present for the occasion.
  • Martin Kamerer opened a pharmacy on Daniel Street that would ultimately become the campus institution Kam’s.


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