Student Life at Illinois: 1950-1959


Cheerleaders, circa 1951
Cheerleaders, circa 1951


  • Controversy occurred over whether University should recognize American Youth for Democracy, an affiliate of the Communist Party. President Stoddard ordered that recognition for group be given.
  • Mechanical Engineering Building opened.
  • Student Community Interracial Committee surveyed students’ opinions on desegregated housing.
  • First women cheerleaders appointed.
  • Mildred Fogel crowned Homecoming Queen. As “Barbara Bain,” Fogel later would star in the TV series “Mission Impossible.”


  • Student Community Interracial Committee dissolved. The Student Community Human Relations Council–a new anti-discrimination group- organized.
  • Committee on Student Discipline demanded immediate resignation or removal of Sigma Delta Chi officers following publication of Tumor issue deemed offensive.
  • The first African-American homecoming queen at Illinois, Clarice Davis, crowned.
  • Men’s basketball team won Big Ten, finished in third place in the NCAA Tournament.
Rose Bowl program, 1952
Rose Bowl program, 1952


  • Illinois defeated Stanford in the Rose Bowl, 40-7.
  • Men’s basketball team won Big Ten, advanced to the first-ever officially recognized Final Four.
  • The Alumni Association honored Illini student athletes with the first George Huff awards.


  • “Panty-raid” fad swept campus.
  • Campus ban on automobiles suspended for trial period of one year.
  • Board of Trustees forced President Stoddard’s resignation. Some 1,000 students marched from Auditorium to President’s house in support of Stoddard. Lloyd Morey named acting president.
  • The Student Community Human Relations Council began campaign to end discrimination by local barber shops.


Shaft, January 1948
Shaft, January 1948


  • Committee on Student Affairs ruled that any student working on a publication like Shaft faced possible disciplinary action.
  • Vice President Richard Nixon delivered speech from steps of YMCA.


  • David Dodds Henry appointed University president.
  • Dutch elm disease killed 48 of the 117 elms on the Quad.
  • Student registration held in the Armory for the first time.
  • Korean native Duck Choo Oh named Homecoming Queen.


  • The Law Building dedicated.
  • Ban on “political speakers” was temporarily lifted. Vice-Presidential candidate Estes Kefauver became first authorized political speaker on campus in more than 60 years.
Bevier Hall, 1956
Bevier hall, 1956


  • Senator John F. Kennedy addressed 1,200 graduates at the midyear convocation held in the Auditorium.
  • Bevier Hall and Child Development Laboratory dedicated.
  • Students conducted “water riots” on Memorial Day.
  • The School of Journalism and Communications and the School of Physical Education became colleges.


  • Allen Hall opened to accommodate 669 women.
  • Board of Trustees modified ban on “political speakers” to permit on-campus addresses by presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
  • Digital Computer Laboratory completed.
  • Gregory Drive Residence Halls opened.

    Newly constructed married student housing, October 1959
    Newly constructed married student housing, circa 1959


  • Burrill Hall opened, serving as headquarters for new School of Life Sciences.
  • All elms on the Quad were gone.
  • Art and Architecture Building (now Art and Design) completed.
  • Orchard Place Apartments opened.
  • University recognition withheld for student organizations restricting membership on the basis of race or religion.


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