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Larry Werries

Larry Werries

Former state ag director | UIAA Loyalty Award | Class of 1962

It was a whole different campus in Larry Werries’ day — starting with the price of admission.

“The tuition as I entered the U of I that fall was $125 per semester," says the former state agriculture director and proud member of the Class of '62. "During my time there, the Assembly Hall was under construction. The decision was made to raise the tuition and fees to $135 per semester to help pay for that impressive structure which is now known as State Farm Center — but not to me. 

"I wasn’t all that concerned with the fee increase as I had an academic scholarship which covered tuition and fees — worth an amazing $1,000 for the four years.

“I entered the U of I in the fall of 1958 intending to pursue a degree in agriculture. I switched majors a few times but finally determined agriculture was where I belonged. 

“I lived the first year at Granada Club on Fourth Street. We were told that was the campus home of Hugh Hefner when he was a U of I student. The building is no longer there, having been replaced by some university-related structure. 

"I pledged Sigma Chi as a sophomore and lived there until graduation.

Kam’s is a location that every student for generations is sure to remember. I actually worked there in the summer of 1961 flipping burgers and serving up draft beers. I also worked at the Genetics Lab, which was near the Livestock Pavilion on South Campus. A couple of professors were working on a substance which would lead to heat synchronization in sheep. My job was to observe the ewes and a ram’s interest in amorous activity when the substance was removed. 

"For that I was paid an astounding $1.25 per hour. I also fed, watered and cleaned cages of mice, rats and guinea pigs.

“I sat next to Dick Butkus in an English Lit class. He treated me like any other regular person would, even though I had already figured out that he was destined for greatness.

“The graduation speaker in June of 1962 was Governor Otto Kerner. Who could have known at that time that I would later be appointed to the position of Illinois ag director by James Thompson, who became governor largely because of his successful prosecution of Kerner in some sort of race track stock scheme?

"My degree from the Big U had everything to do with that appointment.”