History of SSU-UIS: 1970-1971

(from the 1970-71 SSU Catalog)

Message From the President

(Robert C. Spencer)

This guide sets forth initial programs and features of the operating style of Sangamon State University. As the first freestanding university to be established in Illinois in this century and as the State’s initial upper division university, this new institution has a unique threefold mandate.

First, in response to the Master Plan for higher education of the state of Illinois and to the directives and guidelines of Sangamon State’s governing boards, the University’s programs are addressed to the people of the State of Illinois of all ages who seek upper division baccalaureate and first year graduate study, with particular emphasis on public affairs. Second, these programs are designed to respond to the age-old mission of the university as a center of teaching, of scholarly inquiry and criticism, and of an institution which is an authentic representation of culture and humane learning. Third, these programs reveal a curriculum so designed that students, faculty, and the community may address themselves in appropriate ways to the public problems besetting our society and civilization.


The primary commitment at Sangamon State University is to teaching, to education in public affairs, and to the creation of an environment in which professional and vocational objectives may be pursued in a manner consistent with liberal learning. In its commitment to teaching, in its curriculum, and in its relations with the community, the university is concerned not only with the pursuit of knowledge, that scholarly truth and wisdom may be served, but also with the nature of the quest and the processes of study and inquiry which serve this end.

This guide sets forth in broad terms the principal policies, degree programs, and operating style of Sangamon State University. It places major emphasis upon the unusual responsibility expected of each student. Asked first to determine and evaluate his own objectives in university education, the prospective student is then requested, with the aid of his faculty adviser, to select or design a program which will enable him to achieve these objectives.

History and Description

Sangamon State University is one of the two new senior institutions established by the State of Illinois in accordance with the statewide Master Plan developed by the State of Illinois Board of Higher Education. Planning was authorized by the General Assembly in 1967, operational and building funds in 1969. Sangamon State is scheduled to open in September, 1970; Governors State University in Park Forest in 1971. Both universities were founded to respond to increasing needs for upper division and graduate study and to articulate programs with the rapidly expanding community college system in Illinois. Further impetus for the establishment of Sangamon State was provided by community leaders in Central Illinois who were deeply aware of the local and regional demand for educational opportunity and who saw in the cultural, professional, and historical environment of Springfield an unparalleled setting for higher education.

The site of the new university is 740 acres of prairie located six miles southeast of Springfield, adjacent to scenic Lake Springfield and to the 340-acre campus of Lincoln Land Community College.

The first permanent construction, including a library and academic core, is scheduled for completion by the Fall Quarter of 1972. The campus master plan calls for an “urban campus” in a rural setting, free of all vehicular traffic and so planned that all campus facilities are easily accessible to pedestrians. The permanent buildings will be situated within a “ring road” some 3,000 feet in diameter. Within the ring will be shops, restaurants, lounge facilities and landscaped areas as well as classroom and office buildings. Parking and eventually graduate student apartments and single-family housing units will be on the periphery of the campus. In collaboration with far-seeing real estate developers, the university will help develop a planned, attractive community environment adjacent to the campus. The objective is to make of Sangamon State University an imaginative interrelationship of terrain, buildings, and landscape architecture, and educational city in the open Illinois prairie.

Ten modern and attractively landscaped steel interim buildings which have been designed to reflect the operating style and spirit of the university make up the temporary campus.

Sangamon State University is one of the three institutions in the Regency Universities System governed by the Board of Regents of the State of Illinois. The others are Illinois State University at Normal and Northern Illinois University at DeKalb. Decisions by the Board of Regents in the areas of operating and capital budget, academic program and long-range planning also require approval of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

In the summer of 1969 the Board of Regents selected Dr. Robert C. Spencer, Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Rhode Island, as the founding president of Sangamon State University. President Spencer, who assumed his duties September 1, 1969, immediately began recruiting staff members and developing academic plans. A faculty of 45 was selected to provide academic advisement and instruction during the first academic year, scheduled to begin September 21. Approximately 1,000 students enrolled to receive instruction in undergraduate and master’s level graduate programs.

Authority for the internal organization of Sangamon State University is vested in the Office of the President with appropriate responsibilities delegated to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of Student Affairs, the Vice President for Business Affairs, and the Director of University Relations.

Philosophy and Objectives

The mandate of Sangamon State University to be a “truly pioneering segment of public education” is set forth in the Master Plan for higher education in Illinois. Through their strong support, members of both the Board of Regents and the Board of Higher Education have indicated clearly their resolve that Sangamon State discharge this obligation.

Beyond cultivating this spirit of innovation, openness and adaptability, Sangamon State University is committed to the following specific objectives:

To make good teaching the preeminent standard by which the university, the faculty and the academic programs are judged. Sangamon State emphasizes those modes of instruction which assist the student in developing habits of learning and pathways to sound thinking and analysis. The university also asks faculty and students to question the learning process and to experiment, testing new and old techniques of teaching, and to encourage independent study wherever feasible.

To emphasize liberal learning. The programs in academic disciplines as well as the professionally oriented programs lead to the Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. The emphasis on liberal learning is exhibited in the style of teaching, in the breadth and balance of curricular offerings and in certain requirements common to all degree programs. It is hoped that by cultivating literacy and humane learning students will continue to learn after they leave Sangamon State University. It is hoped further that students will develop the flexibility necessary for professional development and career mobility in a changing world.

To provide the capstone to lower division education by offering imaginative programs for students from junior and community colleges as well as for those transferring from four-year institutions. Sangamon State intermixes the final two years of undergraduate work with the first years of graduate work, creating an atmosphere of maturity, responsibility, and scholarship.

To be a public affairs university. The university asks that all members of the university community investigate the social, technological, environmental and moral questions of our times. The exposure to public affairs extends beyond the classroom and campus to the community where undergraduate students engage, as a part of their formal education, in a quarter-long work experience related to their careers or interests.