Illini Fest event paints Chicago orange and blue

Illini Fest in downtown Chicago on July 18 will include more than 40 displays and interactive experiences from colleges and units on campus. The free event is open to the public. Photo courtesy of Division of Intercollegiate Athletics

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is strengthening its outreach to Chicago with its first-ever downtown festival. Illini Fest, planned for Thursday, July 18 from 3-6 p.m. in the Park Grill Plaza of Millennium Park, aims to bring the university experience to the more than 150,000 Fighting Illini alumni living in Chicagoland. The free event is open to the public. Food and drink will be provided while supplies last, and the first 1,000 Illini Fest guests to enter will receive a free full-size “Block I” Illinois flag.

Chancellor Robert Jones
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

“Illini Fest is a new and exciting way to connect with the largest city in our state,” said Chancellor Robert Jones. “We are distributing 1,000 flags to show our commitment.”

The upcoming festival adds to a long list of the university’s efforts to strengthen ties to Chicagoland in recent years. Focus on Chicago is an important piece of The Next 150, the university’s five-year strategic plan released in February. The Discovery Partners Institute, a research institute in Chicago, announced its first round of seed funding this spring. Illinois also unveiled two major partnerships with the University of Chicago in the past two years – the Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center and another research and technology center on the South Side of Chicago. The Grainger College of Engineering created the City Scholars program, a semester-long study and work opportunity in the city.

Illini Fest was conceptualized by Chief Marketing Officer Eric Minor to strengthen the university’s outreach in Chicago.

Eric Minor
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

“In Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has the largest alumni base compared with any other university in the nation,” Minor said. “Illini Fest is part of a commitment to reassert and strengthen our Illini presence in this amazing city.”

The event will include more than 40 displays and interactive experiences from colleges and units on campus, including robots from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; a theater photo booth from the College of Fine and Applied Arts; a virtual reality headset experience from the Carle Illinois College of Medicine; and a solar telescope experience from the astronomy department.

In addition to the displays, Jones, Athletic Director Josh Whitman and football Coach Lovie Smith will address the crowd and mingle with guests. Men’s basketball player Giorgi Bezhanishvili – known for award-winning dance moves in his native republic of Georgia – is also slated to give a dance workshop. Portions of Willis Tower will be lighted in the university’s colors of orange and blue.

“Our Chicagoland alumni and friends can expect to see much more of the Illini impact in the coming months as we increase our visibility and further strengthen our reputation in the Chicago area,” Jones said.

Source: Illinois News Bureau

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Illini Fest event paints Chicago orange and blue
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Illini Fest event paints Chicago orange and blue
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The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is strengthening its outreach to Chicago with its first-ever downtown festival.