Browse Exhibits (8 total)

A. Introduction

Since its founding in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has strived to enhance the lives of citizens in Illinois, across the nation, and around the world through our leadership in learning, discovery, engagement, and economic development.  For nearly 150 years, this small place in central Illinois has achieved just that.

The University's community of scholars and students has pursued these goals by developing innovative ideas, technologies, and approaches to living that have changed the world. These innovations reach beyond a single field of study or campus location. The thirty-one historical markers that mark individual achievements on the campus only give a peek at our past; they cannot tell the stories of the energy and brilliance that inspired and sustained the achievements they celebrate. As we celebrate innovations at Illinois, we should look beyond these markers to discover and appreciate the innovators’ work, and realize the impact they have had on the global community

Innovation at Illinois will tell the story of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s greatest innovations that have improved and transformed societies around the world. Through telling this story, these exhibits will not only improve our understanding of individual innovations and scholars, but will also demonstrate how each of these accomplishments has gone on to benefit a broader public.

Innovations require investment. At the University of Illinois, these investments have taken the form of human involvement and community commitment, as well as buildings and laboratories. Through this interactive website, you will learn about the University’s investments in education, productivity, a good society, beauty, and the gadgets that improved past societies, and continue to improve the future. Alongside the historical markers already recognized, you will discover the “missing markers” that may have impacted your life in a variety of ways.

B. Investing in Education

Radio Broadcasting.JPG

At Illinois, education does not stop in the classroom. The university is committed to empowering all people to achieve their full potential. By investing in this broad definition of education, the University of Illinois has helped the public gain access to knowledge. It has accomplished that goal by improving the technologies of learning as well as by exploring ways to deliver education to everyone, no matter what their ability. A few of the ways this has been done is by developing programs to reach people through educational public broadcasting and the Illinois Farmer's Institute, and supporting advances in special education and early childhood education. These innovations have changed how education is understood in the world and thereby opened the door to further innovation. 

, , ,

C. Investing in Productivity


Human progress can often be measured through increases in productivity. Many of the innovations devised on the Illinois campus have improved human productivity through research and innovations in Agriculture and Engineering. These achievements, from experiments in the Morrow Plots and swine production, to complex digital computers and hydraulic engineering, have successfully contributed to advancing productivity throughout the world and have helped people work more efficiently with new developments. 


, , , , , , , , ,

D. Investing in Public Health


While people may normally think about public health as just dealing with doctors and hospitals, "health" can be about more than just medical care. Scientific research forms the basis for the discovery of new medicines and medical techniques. Preserving the environment decreases the chance of contracting diseases. Smart habits and better personal hygiene can extend lifespans. The University of Illinois has played a major role in supporting these and other improvements. Faculty such as Norman D. Levine and David Gottlieb made remarkable strides in the field of protozoology and the production of lifesaving antibiotics. Arthur W. Palmer’s work with the Illinois State Water Survey helped establish standards of water sanitation and public health reform. Thomas K. Cureton, the “Father of Physical Fitness,” had a hand in creating the first physical fitness research lab and added to research in the field of kinesiology to help people lead better lifestyles. Isabel Bevier is largely responsible for the household science curriculum at the university, very broadly dealing with families and their relationship with the community, while also focusing on nutrition and health education. Through these brilliant minds and their ideas, the University of Illinois has been a leader in promoting a healthier standard of living, not just in the area, but around the world.  

, , , ,

E. Investing in Beauty


      The University of Illinois has continued to grow and enlighten the public with a high quality of beauty and the arts. The University of Illinois continues to show its passion for the arts and its desire to become a premier destination for performers, as well as visitors. Arts show the advancements, understanding, and practices that a University strives to entail, and this focus helps in appreciating the manifestation of human experience and beauty.

, , , ,

F. Investing in Gadgets that Improve Lives


Innovation at Illinois takes many forms: ideas, books, research programs and new educational curricula. Many innovations take the form of objects--gadgets--that make something possible that had previously been impossible. The University of Illinois sets itself apart from other institutions in that gadgets produced do not just benefit the university, but people everywhere. Sometimes the Gadgets, and the people behind them, garner recognition for the contribution they have made. Other times the names and deeds are forgotten even when the gadgets live on. At the University of Illinois some of the groundbreaking gadgets which have been developed are the Mosaic Web Browser, the ILLIAC Supercomputers, Experimental Music, and the first demonstration of Sound on Film.

, , , , , , , , , ,

G. Investing in a Better Society

Blind Student Studies a Map of Campus, 1967

Alongside the technological innovations accomplished here, the University has made vast improvements in our society by becoming a more inclusive institution. Complying with the constant call for women's education, the University has created a community today in which women have the same opportunities as men on campus, in the activities they enjoy and the classes they take. There has also been a parallel call from racial and ethnic minorities on campus for increased numbers of minority students admitted, and cultural houses for each group. The University has strived to make the campus a more welcoming space. Creating majors that focus on the experiences of these ethnic groups allows the campus community to engage with other cultures in an accurate and enlightening way. Opening the campus to students of all backgrounds has also created accessible education and campus involvement. Throughout the past 70 years, the University has become the leading campus in creating opportunities for students with disabilities. The Disability Resources on campus had a major influence on the nation's accessibility laws. While the University may not be the pioneer for a better society, it has created an inclusive atmosphere that allows opportunities for a better society to cultivate and grow.

, , , , ,