The University of Illinois comprises three public coeducational campuses in the state of Illinois. They include the main campus at Urbana-Champaign, one in Chicago, and one in Springfield, the state capital.
The main campus, a member institution of the Quad-Cities Graduate Study Center at Rock Island, is located in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana. It is spread over an area of about 1,500 acres with about 275 major buildings, and located 140 miles south of Chicago, 120 miles west of Indianapolis, and 170 miles northeast of St. Louis.
Since opening in 1868, the university has earned a reputation as a world-class leader in research, teaching, and public engagement. The state’s flagship public university, it is distinguished by its breadth of programs, broad academic excellence, and internationally renowned faculty.
The University of Illinois is one of the original 37 public land-grant institutions created within 10 years of the signing of the Morrill Act by Abraham Lincoln, in 1862. The school was chartered in 1867 and opened in 1868 as Illinois Industrial University at Urbana-Champaign. The institution was renamed in 1885.
In 1946, the university commmenced a two-year undergraduate program in Chicago and became the Chicago Circle Campus in 1965. In 1982, it was consolidated with the Medical Center Campus to become the University of Illinois at Chicago. The university also has colleges of medicine in Peoria and Rockford, and a college of nursing in Moline.
The University of Illinois comprises 18 colleges and institutes, including one of law and another of aviation, which offer more than 150 programs.
Major study programs include library and information science, engineering, computer science, the physical sciences, advertising, psychology, educational psychology, agriculture, and accounting. The Electrical Engineering Department is the birthplace of the first light-emitting diode (LED).
Students, who hail from all 50 states and 100 nations, bring a broad spectrum of backgrounds, interests, and talents to the university community. The enrollment is approximately 40,500, including 29,500 undergraduate and 11,000 graduate and professional students. Its 22 undergraduate residence halls can accommodate 8,500 students.
The university's National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is where Marc Andreessen (later of Netscape fame) helped forge the Mosaic web browser -- the first HTML browser to render images. In 1987, NCSA developed NCSA telnet, a program that permits remote access to the supercomputer's resources.
The college library is the largest public university collection in the world with more than 22 million items in the main library and in the more than 40 departmental libraries and units. On average, 1.2 million items circulate and 293,000 reference questions are answered each year.
The University of Illinois' culture and entertainment section includes the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (seating capacity of 4,000), Foellinger Auditorium (1,750), and Assembly Hall (a multipurpose arena, 16,500). Other highlights include Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, Spurlock Museum, John Philip Sousa Museum, Illini Union Art Gallery, and Temple Hoyne Buell Architecture Gallery.
More than 1,000 registered student organizations, clubs, coalitions, and honorary societies enhance campus life. Student media services include the Daily Illini newspaper, ,Illio yearbook, Illinois Technograph, the Issue, WPGU-FM, and WBML Cable-FM. The school's marching band, “Illini”, enjoys a superb reputation. “Chief Illiniwek,” a Native-American figure that has sparked significant controversy, is the university's athletic mascot.
One of the few educational institutions to operate an airfield, UIUC owns and operates Willard Airport, named for former university president Arthur Cutts Willard. The airport, completed in 1945 and operational in 1954, is home to many university research projects and the university's acclaimed Institute of Aviation.