In 1979, President Stanley Ikenberry, age 44, became the youngest president in the University's history. Before coming to the University of Illinois, Ikenberry served as senior vice president of The Pennsylvania State University and was a professor in the Pennsylvania State Center for the Study of Higher Education.
During his tenure, federal funds for research nearly quadrupled as well as private gifts, grants, and contracts. Ikenberry led the University's first major capital campaign and a second campaign that raised more than $1.35 billion.
He led the consolidation of the Medical Center and Chicago Circle, making the University of Illinois at Chicago the largest research university in the metropolitan area. Additional buildings on the Urbana campus included Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications was established during his tenure. Faculty member Miles C. Hartley contributed the gift of the Arboretum and the Bee Research Facility. In 1998, Japan House was established for informal educational sessions on Japanese culture.
Ikenberry also worked to improve the quality and diversity of the student body with the establishment of the President's Award Program for high-achieving, underrepresented students who have been admitted to the University of Illinois.
After his resignation, Ikenberry became the tenth president of the American Council of Education, serving from 1996-2001. Since 2000, he has also served as President of the Board of Overseers at TIAA-CREF, the leading retirement system for college and university employees in the United States. Since 2001, he has held positions in the College of Education and the Institute of Government and Public Affairs in Urbana. In 2008, the Board of Trustees honored Ikenberry's contributions by naming a new dining hall and residence halls complex on the Urbana campus after him and his wife, Judy.