University Park, IL,
14:01 PM

Governors State University Turns 48

Happy birthday, GSU! You're 48. Although still an adolescent in institutional reckoning, in human years, you sit square in the midst of middle age. You're officially "distinguished" now. Along with Jennifer Aniston, Ice Cube, and Christian Slater—all born as well in 1969—you've made it through Watergate, disco, and Reaganomics. You Just Said No, and you saw the Berlin Wall come down. Your halls were filled with parachute pants and perms that eventually gave way to skinny jeans and flannels, and here, you are. Congratulations on being the steadfast engine of the Southland's economy and dreams, on surviving the tumult of the late 20th century and flourishing in the 21st.

When GSU was founded, Gunsmoke and Laugh-In were among the country's favorite television shows, and we were listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival, James Brown,  and Gladys Knight & the Pips on FM radio. We talk often of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing and its tie to the university—the shared spirit of discovery—but what else happened the year we were founded?

  • The Beatles released Abbey Road.
  • Sesame Street premiered.
  • The film Easy Rider hit theaters.
  • The first human eye transplant was performed.
  • The Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet made its debut, carrying 191 members of the press from New York City to Seattle.
  • The first ATM was installed in the United States.
  • Woodstock Music Festival drew 350,000 fans to upstate New York.
  • Willie Nelson started playing Trigger, his famously named guitar.
  • The Gap opened their first store in San Francisco.

So there you have it—we're as old as Willie Nelson's guitar. Happy birthday again, GSU. Here's to many more celebrations.