Nothing against the College of Engineering he's a proud graduate of, but Mike Springer's favorite spot on campus is one where a different sort of learning happened in the early '90s.
“My fondest memories from attending the University of Illinois are from living at a house that had previously been named ‘Party Mecca,’" says Philips Healthcare's chief of executive relations.
"It was an old bank with a vault that was converted into a house and was rumored to be where Dick Butkus had once lived, although this was never confirmed.
"There were several of us who were all from the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity living in the house and throughout this time I was bartending at Alexander’s Steakhouse to pay my way through school.
"As I look back at that house, I believe that it really served as a hub of diversity. Our next-door neighbors, who were Deadheads and lived in a big Victorian house named the 'Broke Down Palace,' were all from a Jewish fraternity. All the social events that we had were typically attended by our neighbors and my colleagues from Alexander's.
“The Alexander’s crowd consisted of students from several different fraternities and sororities, ‘locals’ from the Champaign area and work-release individuals from the correctional facility. Our chef at Alexander's, who had been shot earlier in his life by the police while he was with a group of individuals committing a robbery, was also a regular fixture at our events.
"What I didn’t realize at the time was that the 'Party Mecca' was a place that has instilled in me that everyone has a voice and that gender, race, culture, income, education, politics or religion does not define a person."