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Jennifer Dillavou

Jennifer Dillavou

UIAA president | UI associate vice chancellor | Class of 1982

Any time a certain early-’80s soft rock classic comes on the radio, Jennifer Dillavou can close her eyes and be transported back in time.

You know the one.

Met my old lover in the grocery store

The snow was falling Christmas Eve ...

“Those of us who grew up here and attended Illinois have a unique connection to Dan Fogelberg’s song, ‘Same Auld Lang Syne,’” says Dillavou, Champaign-born, Champaign-raised and, since 2017, back home as president of the University of Illinois Alumni Alliance and associate vice chancellor for alumni relations.

“Fogelberg, a Peoria native, attended Illinois, as we all know. The urban legend surrounding the song was that the encounter between Fogelberg and the keeper of his heart took place at the Eisner’s on Green Street. In fact, a colleague of mine — a bag boy there in the ’70s — swears by it.

“Whenever I hear it around the holidays, it brings back so many memories of winter breaks when C-U became quiet, the friends who had gone away came home and we townies had the city to ourselves again.

“Music can engender such a visceral response, can’t it? All I need to take me back in time is to hear those opening chords when I’m in my car. And in the blink of an eye and ‘Just for a moment I (am) back at school’ pulling out of my parents’ driveway in my ’67 Mustang, heading south on Rose, east on Kirby, driving in to the night, into the snow to enjoy my hometown with those who knew and loved it — and me — the best.

“I will forever treasure those winter evenings with endless meaning, endless possibility and friends whom I still treasure above all else."