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Chuck Haas

Chuck Haas

Engineering professor | Distinguished Alumni Award | Class of 1978

Home now is Philadelphia, where Chuck Haas directs the environmental engineering program at Drexel.

But 40 years ago, home was the Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory, where the then-Ph.D. student did everything but sleep for long stretches at a time.

“At that time, Newmark, where my office and lab were, was at the extreme north end of campus. I lived in Sherman Hall, so I traversed the center of campus from Champaign to Urbana twice or more per day — even more since we used lots of the different libraries.

“But probably like others, the Illini Union was the center of my trek and I wound up taking most of my meals there — at the cafeteria, which is no longer. Likely due to my consistent use of the Union, I became active in the graduate student government, and through that the Illini Union Board, of which I eventually served as chair. 

“I got to know the Union and its people from top to bottom.

“So I really had three main ‘homes’ — the Newmark Lab, the Union and Sherman Hall. In Sherman Hall, we had a great group of what would now be called ‘lounge lizards,’ who played bridge and talked most evenings.

“Other hangouts, most of which are no longer, were the original Strawberry Fields, the Round Robin, Treno’s on the Urbana side, DeLuxe for their Friday fish sandwiches and the continuing toss-up between Garcia’s on Green and Papa Del’s, at its original location in Campustown.

“My recollection was that Round Robin on the Champaign side, and Treno’s on the Urbana side, would be the two places that catered mostly to graduate students.

“I got to know a number of campus administrations fairly well, including then-Chancellor Jack Peltason, Hugh Satterlee and Dan Perino.

“I enjoyed my three-and-a-half years at UIUC, got a lot out of it both academically and otherwise, and am in close touch with my former department. I’ve been to campus perhaps half a dozen times, including spending a sabbatical back there in the mid-1980s.”