President David Kinley

Kinley 1920-1930

David Kinley presided first as acting president and then as president during the Roaring Twenties, an era marked by significant growth and economic prosperity following World War I. Kinley began at the University of Illinois as an assistant professor who created the department of economics but also taught courses in political science and sociology. He served as dean of College of Literature and Arts and later was appointed as dean of the new graduate school. As vice president during the administration of President James, Kinley had assisted in appropriations campaigns and the University budget process.

Following World War I, many university communities across the nation were raising funds to build memorial stadiums. The University of Illinois was no exception, and $2 million was raised by students, alumni and friends. Second-story colonnades of 184 limestone columns bear the names of the 183 men and one woman who lost their lives during World War I.

Kinley proposed expanding a state 10-year building program to include educational needs even though it required twice the budget of any preceding plan. The appropriations bill had the support of Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, and other service clubs. The press also rallied support with nearly 50 newspapers advocating for its passage. In making the university's cause their own, the organizations all contributed toward a successful passage of the bill in the legislature. Appropriations topped $12 million, the largest amount for the next decade.

The Smith Music Hall, which was the first building on campus to be funded entirely by private donations, and the University Hospital (McKinley Center) were built during Kinley's administration. Enrollment continued to rise, making the University of Illinois the third largest university in the nation. The College of Medicine in Chicago became the largest medical school in the world. Fraternities and sororities built 25 large houses. University spirit blossomed in this era. Dads' Day and Mothers' Day began in Illinois in 1920 and 1921. Enduring class memorials included the Altgeld Hall chimes and Alma Mater statuary. The University of Illinois began its first radio broadcast; the call letters were WRM ("We Reach Millions") and later changed in 1928 to the familiar WILL. Kinley proposed Honors Day to recognize students who had attained high scholarship.

In 1930, Kinley reached the maximum age of retirement before accomplishing everything in his plan.