In the parking lot west of Wohlers Hall, soon to be the site of construction equipment and steel, visiting campus dignitaries and alumni joined College of Business Dean Avijit Ghosh for groundbreaking ceremonies on April 28. Hundreds of guest celebrated the milestone in the history of the College with cake, champagne, and smiles.
Before the speeches and the ceremonial photos with festooned shovels, University of Illinois President B. Joseph White, President emeritus Stanley Ikenberry, and Chancellor Richard Herman discussed the future of higher education in a panel presentation attended by more than 150.
The men touched on different challenges facing the University and offered their thoughts on ways to address those challenges. White called the work done at the University “the world’s most important work,” noting that the campuses bring affordable, quality education to the people.
“I believe that the University of Illinois is this state’s most important asset,” White said. “We are absolutely a great bargain.”
President White discussed other topics such as tuition increases and the lack of state funding. “I’d like to run the University like a business, but it wouldn’t look good” because he would, for example, have to shut down programs that do not attract a large number of students.
Former President Stanley Ikenberry commented on the excitement surrounding the new building. “We’ve been wishing for a new business building for my entire professional career,” Ikenberry said. “I’m excited to actually be at the groundbreaking.”
Ikenberry also discussed the “distinctive essence” of the University, and the institution’s commitment to students and their creative, entrepreneurial spirit. “I can’t think of anything more intertwined than the future of Illinois and the future of the University,” Ikenberry said.
The final speaker, Chancellor Richard Herman, spoke about the mission statement of the campus and its growing role in the world. “We find ourselves in a very special time, and our moment of pre-eminence is now,” Herman said. “Universities like this one are becoming engines of economic success.”
A video presentation highlighting the functionality of the new instructional facility and the impact the building will have on the College community followed a brief question and answer segment with the panelists.