In a world before Facebook, UI freshmen had no way to put names with faces, hometowns and hobbies with one another before arriving on campus.
That’s where Dan Carrigan comes in.
"Recognizing a need, the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council sought a means to reach out to fall 1985 accepted high school seniors to introduce them to the many organizations on campus, not just the world’s largest Greek system," he says.
"But there was simply no collective student affairs handbook that was available by mail, let alone by electronic delivery. As newly elected Interfraternity Council president, one of my first projects was in tandem with Panhellenic Council to conduct a proactive outreach to all student groups to see interest in some type of 'New Illini Student Handbook.'
"Student organizations included the Student Government Association, Illini Union Board, Star Course, Independent Student Organization, Residence Hall Student Government and Student Alumni Association. Yes indeed, all student organizations felt early communication with freshmen would help instill new lifeblood.
"Our first stop was to present the idea to vice chancellor for student affairs, Dr. Stanley Levy. After all, every student campus organization reported to his office. Not only did he embrace the idea, but Dr. Levy 'one-upped' us. He suggested that the idea of a new student handbook should have a welcome letter not only from him, but also from Chancellor Thomas Everhart and President Stanley Ikenberry. Sensing we would have a long road ahead to secure these letters, Dr. Levy promised and delivered both letters full of praise to join the many rich Illini campus organizations.
"Dr. Levy was our best advocate; he spread the word that we were creating something new that would communicate with incoming freshman. Accordingly, Dean of Students Clarence Shelley joined the effort and produced pages of mailing labels to reach the freshman class. Then another idea came to input all student affairs services, including the dean of students office, emergency dean services, emergency loans, career development, health professions information, women’s resources and services, student financial aid, McKinley Health Center, counseling center and the Illini Union.
"After organizing with a yearbook distributor, the 'New Student Record University of Illinois 1985' was created and shipped to incoming freshman during June 1985. Approximately 1,200 freshman participated by sending in their high school senior picture and a few of their hobbies. Dr. Levy was ahead of his time; he recognized that student grassroots ideas lead to leadership development.
"But, he saved his eloquent reception for his welcome letter: 'I hope that in reviewing this book, you will obtain not only a flavor of the University’s great diversity, but also the range of opportunity for you to meet new people, to obtain new experiences, and to profit from the educational opportunity and environment that the Campus provides.'
"Executing this new idea was exciting but we didn’t realize technology would soon alter this snail mail approach. During the fall 1985 term, IBM approached the Interfraternity Council about placing 'personal computers' with students. We didn’t hesitate; we appropriated $2,500 to match IBM funds to install the PCs in Florida Avenue Residence Hall break areas. It seemed like the cool thing to do.
"It soon became the focus of students; how to save files on floppy diskettes. In fact, it was the beginning of the computer revolution, which helped students explore and process more data than ever. It also marked the end of the New Student Record; it was only produced one more time, for fall 1986 admitted students."