Lesley Millar-Nicholson's Illini story begins at the Ceramics Building.
"It's the place where I first entered into the world of ‘technology transfer’ full time — in July 2002 — which set me on course to now lead the top tech transfer office in the U.S., if not the world: the MIT TLO.
"At that time, I had graduated from the UI's MBA program. Being an international student, I needed to find a job where I could be sponsored. Having undertaken OPT (optional practical training) as an intern the year before under the terms of my then-F1 student visa, the offer of a full-time position as a technology manager and sponsorship by Illinois was ideal.
“Once inside the Ceramics Building, I thought I had stepped back in time — beautiful ceramic floor tiles, manufacturers' sample bricks on the floor and a display case full of terra-cotta and other stuff I still don’t fully understand.
"From then on, for 14 years, I climbed three flights of stairs every day to my office, each day enjoying seeing something new in the worn tiles beneath my feet, or in the beautifully crafted handrails on the staircase.
"I recollect taking an 80-year-old alum and his family around the building as he recounted his time in class and named his professors.
"I can still feel the heat that would hit as I entered on a cold wintery day through the basement of the Ceramics Kiln House. I found a huge praying mantis on the window sill on the morning my wife and I were asked if we would adopt a baby girl relinquished in Chicago under the Illinois Safe Haven law.
"So many great memories, fondly remembered.”