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16:10 PM

GSU Celebrates 49 Years of Evolving Education

At the end of the '60s, a decade marked by war, racial tension, and cultural upheaval, Apollo 11's moon landing  was a triumphant finish. Amid revolutionary firsts, shifting and changing values, Governors State University (GSU) was conceived as an upper division university without walls to serve as a new model for transforming lives through education.

Today, GSU celebrates its 49th birthday as a full-service, four-year institution serving the Chicago Southland by living its mission to be an “intellectually stimulating public square.”

Even the university’s triad in the school logo reflected the trajectory of the era, reminiscent of the Neil Armstrong’s rocket. The pioneering moon walk and university spoke to a new trailblazing commitment to a better future for all men and women.

By design, the school had no walls, no classrooms, and students, who did not receive grades, set their own standards for academic success.

However, the late ’70s and early ’80s brought more change, and leaders relented to pressure to educate students in a more traditional setting. Walls were erected to create traditional classrooms. A university provost was installed, and students swapped cumbersome binders of competency statements and portfolios for simple transcripts.

Even after the walls went up in 1975, GSU’s evolution continued through the decades. In 2014, the university admitted its first freshmen students, opened Prairie Place, a living and learning community, and Jax the mascot was born.

In 2015, the seven-sport Jaguars joined the 14-team Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC), and in 2018, the men’s basketball team brought home a national championship trophy months before GSU graduated four classes for the first time ever. “It has been such an immense pleasure, these last four years, to watch you grow, to become what you now are. And now, here you are,” Faculty Senate President David Golland, said during the historic ceremony.

Ironically,  ongoing transformation remains the university's consistent thread. “One of the hallmarks of GSU has been that it constantly renewed and reinvented itself, just like students,” said Tony Labriola GSU Professor Emeritus of Communication-Visual and Performing Arts, in a 40th anniversary video, “Linking Tradition with Innovation.”

As GSU prepares for its 50-year anniversary in 2019, we pause to reflect on 49 years of renewal and re-commit ourselves to being a model 21st century university.

Happy Birthday, GSU. You look fabulous!

GSU archival information provided by the GSU Library.