A digital special section of | Subscribe

Ruth Wuorenma

Ruth Wuorenma

President | Neighborhood Capital Institute

It was new student week 1970 — and Ruth Wuorenma, new to Allen Hall and college life — was about to experience the UI at its finest.

“My parents had just dropped me off and I couldn’t believe that I was in a dormitory of over 400 students, from all walks of life, all hanging out together,” she says. “And REO Speedwagon was the entertainment, right outside our door.”

Soon, says the then-psychology major and now-Neighborhood Capital Institute president, “I discovered the full richness of the music world on campus — Emmylou Harris and Steve Goodman were regularly performing a few blocks away, the UI Jazz Band was a wonder, and, of course, Krannert, the ‘Midwest’s Lincoln Center,’ as I learned to refer to it in my role there as volunteer docent.

“Music was just one of many threads representative of the university’s breadth and depth. The scale of the place, the collegiality of it all, and its balance of intellectual rigor and sheer fun, made all things seem possible.

“I can’t think of a better springboard from which to build a fulfilling life.”