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History

When the Center for Advanced Study was established in 1959, it had no physical location. Instead the Center consisted of four University of Illinois distinguished professors who were recognized for the scholarly and creative contributions they had already made to the University and beyond. This core group of scholars provided the nucleus for a program that in 2017 is unique in the nation.

Today the Center is still charged, as it was originally, with promoting the highest levels of scholarship and discourse. The Center also serves as the primary formal venue on our campus for various types of scholarly interaction and creative activity across academic disciplines. It sponsors workshops and seminars, supports new scholarship, and brings to campus more than thirty distinguished scholars, writers, and artists each academic year, in collaboration with other units of the University.

At any one time there have been as many as 28 active CAS Professors. Since 1959 a total of 89 University of Illinois Professors have held CAS appointments. Each year the Center appoints additional Associates, Fellows and Resident Associates. Much of the uniqueness of the Center lies in the diverse contributions of these appointments.

Several Professors with a long history of involvement in the Center’s work offered their thoughts during its twentieth anniversary celebrations in 1979. Former director Daniel Alpert noted the Center’s key role in helping “to make the campus a very special place . . . to create networks of friendships and collaboration between scholars in various departments.” Professor Alpert later established a lecture fund benefiting the Center. Charles Slichter, CAS Professor of Physics, observed that “All scholarly activity—and the conditions of it flourishing—are very delicate. It needs nourishing. It is the university’s responsibility to create an environment to nourish it. The role of the Center in the University is as a symbol of that nourishment.”

In 1972 the Center took on responsibility for the George A. Miller Programs, including the Miller Visiting Professor and Scholar Program and the CAS/MillerComm public events series. Since that time, more than 250 Miller Visiting Professors and Scholars have visited the University of Illinois campus, and approximately 1,700 speakers have participated in CAS/MillerComm events. A 1995 report from the Research Policy Committee of the Graduate College said, “. . . the process used by the CAS to stimulate, select, and implement events in the MillerComm series is admirable.”

When the Center was evaluated in 1997 by the Committee on the Mission and Structure of the Center for Advanced Study, CAS Professor Donald Burkholder said, “Currently, [the Center] is making a major contribution to the campus in quite a wide variety of ways. Its original mission, in my opinion, is still as important as ever: encouragement, recognition, incentives. It has succeeded and continues to succeed in ‘. . . the encouragement of creative achievement and scholarship by providing recognition to scholars of the highest distinction and by providing incentives for the highest level of scholarly achievement.'”


1959  

University of Illinois Board of Trustees established the Center for Advanced Study, on February 19, 1959. First CAS Professors appointed in September: physicist John Bardeen, mathematician Joseph L. Doob, anthropologist Julian H. Steward, and chemist Reynold C. Fuson. First CAS Associates appointed. In the early years of the program, Associates included both University of Illinois faculty and visitors.


1967

Board of Trustees amends original charter of the Center. First director, David Pines, Professor of Physics, appointed to preside over Center operations at remodeled stucco house at 912 West Illinois Street, Urbana. Center programs expanded to include interdisciplinary seminars, conferences, and workshops. CAS Fellows Program established to appoint distinguished tenure-track University of Illinois faculty to the Center for one semester.


1970

Richard H. Green, Professor of English, appointed acting director of the Center.


1971

Henry Kahane, CAS Professor of Spanish and Linguistics, appointed acting director of the Center.


1972

Daniel Alpert appointed CAS Director. Center assumes responsibility for the George A. Miller Programs. Resident Studies Program initiated to generate new programs and enhance collaboration across departmental and institutional boundaries.


1986

Ladislav Zgusta, CAS Professor of Linguistics and the Classics, appointed CAS Director.


1990

Former director Daniel Alpert established a lecture fund, with income available to the George A. Miller Committee. “The lecture shall be given by a distinguished individual from academic, industrial, or public life on a topic . . . relating the search for new knowledge to the capacity for using knowledge effectively in dealing with human problems.”


1996

Braj B. Kachru, CAS Professor of Linguistics, appointed CAS Director.


1997

Report of the Committee on the Mission and Structure of the Center for Advanced Study submitted to the Graduate College. The committee concluded: “A comparison of the UIUC Center with other such centers in the nation makes it clear that the UIUC Center is unique in the range of activities it undertakes and type of resources it provides. The historical mission of the Center, we believe, is as vital and relevant today as it was at the time of its inception.”


1998

Center for Advanced Study offers its first special topics course (CAS 487) for advanced graduate students in conjunction with a faculty seminar, “Mind, Brain, and Language.”


1999

Center for Advanced Study celebrates 40 years of encouraging creative achievement and scholarship. Two graduate students and two undergraduate students appointed as first CAS John Bardeen Scholars.


2000

William T. Greenough, CAS Professor of Psychology, named CAS Director. Ledyard R. Tucker, CAS Professor of Psychology Emeritus, created a fund to support the Center for Advanced Study, to be used at the discretion of the director.


2001

Additional funding secured from the Campus Research Board for the release-time program.


2003

Five new professors elected to permanent membership in the Center: Leon Dash, journalism; Thomas Huang, electrical and computer engineering; Marianne Kalinke, Germanic languages and comparative literature; Vijay Pandharipande, physics; and Abigail Salyers, microbiology.


2005

Seven new professors elected to the Center: Tamer Başar, electrical and computer engineering; Peter Beak, chemistry; Bruce Hajek, electrical and computer engineering; C. Stephen Jaeger, germanic languages and comparative and world literature; Susan Kieffer, geology; Michael Moore, law; Dale van Harlingen, physics.


2009

Leon Dash, CAS Professor of Journalism and Law, named CAS Director. Ten new professors elected to the Center: Renée Baillargeon, psychology; Bruce Berndt, math; David Ceperley, physics; Matthew Finkin, law; Martha Gillette, medical cell and structural biology; Laura Greene, physics; Frederick Hoxie, history; Brigit Kelly, english; Harris Lewin, animal sciences; Gene Robinson, entomology.


2013

Nine new professors elected to the Center: James Anderson, educational policy, organization & leadership; Nigel Goldenfeld, physics; Stephen Long, plant biology; Tere O’Connor, dance; John Rogers, materials science & Engineering; Jay Rosenstein, journalism; Klaus Schulten, physics; Jonathan Sweedler, chemistry; Maria Todorova, history.


2014

Tamer Başar, CAS Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, named CAS Director. CAS Advisory Committee convened.


2017

The Center for Advanced Study moved offices to Suite 200, Levis Faculty Center. Seven new professors elected to the Center: Antoinette Burton (History), Gary Dell (Psychology), Eduardo Fradkin (Physics), Martin Gruebele (Chemistry), Sharon Hammes-Schiffer (Chemistry), Harry Liebersohn (History), Catherine Murphy (Chemistry).