UI Alumni Association President Loren Taylor: Reflect—and Celebrate

UI Alumni Association President and CEO Loren Taylor (Photo by Larry Kanfer)

During the holiday season, many of us take time to pause and reflect upon the past, give thanks, and celebrate the promise of what lies ahead. At the University of Illinois Alumni Association, that’s a year-round activity.

On the University of Illinois campus, for example, part of our reflection focuses on the historic Armory building, which noted its 100th anniversary this year. A massive facility with no center support, it was considered a structural engineering feat when completed in 1914. The Armory has served as a campus home and training venue for ROTC cadets and midshipmen; as a competition site for UI track-and-field athletes; and, for many years, as the place where every student had to wait in long lines—really long lines—to register for classes. Since an addition to the facade was added in the 1920s, the structure also has been one of the most confusing buildings on campus when it comes to finding the right classroom. But these are the aspects that make it a unique and special part of our history now.

On another front, the UI Dept. of Computer Science has been pioneering and innovating for 50 years now. In that time, its faculty, students and alumni helped revolutionize the way we communicate, shop, do business and entertain ourselves. Illinois established itself early on as a computing powerhouse with the 5-ton, room-sized ILLIAC computer boasting five kilobytes of RAM (many of today’s cellphones, in comparison, have more than 16 million kilobytes). With PLATO, Illinois developed the first computer-based education system and online community. Today, with Blue Waters, we house one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, capable of calculating more than 1 quadrillion calculations per second.

In the pages of Illinois Alumni magazine this past year, you’ve reflected on the greatest moments in Illini football history, celebrated the restoration and triumphant return of the Alma Mater sculpture group and been introduced to the Digital Manufacturing Design Innovation Institute that is taking root in Chicago.

Through your support of the University of Illinois Alumni Association—which helps keep you up-to-date on Illinois events and alumni—you can celebrate with collective pride the groundbreaking, life-changing innovations in engineering, computer science, art and other disciplines that continually flourish on the Illinois campus. Your assistance also enables you to continue to reflect on a fun and transformational time in your life when you were a student making your way across the Quad or cheering on the Illini in Memorial Stadium.

At the time we were going to press with this issue, the University family was excited to learn of the next phase of its leadership. In the coming months, we will celebrate the promise of what lies ahead with the selection of Timothy L. Killeen as the 20th president of the University of Illinois. And we’ll also be thanking retiring President Bob Easter, PHD ’76 ACES, for a job well done—reflecting upon the past with gratitude for his service and leadership.

Yes, our year-round purpose is to help you reflect and celebrate … as well as give us the opportunity to say, “Thank you.” Your support of the University of Illinois and the alumni family is greatly appreciated. Here’s to a great year ahead!

Loren R. Taylor
President and CEO