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Stephen Balogh

Stephen Balogh

Associate judge | Winnebago County | Class of 1987

“Magnificent” library aside, the UI College of Law that the Hon. Stephen Balogh attended three decades ago wasn't exactly a must-stop for student tour guides showing off the best of campus.

“It had the feel of junior high built in the 1960s,” says the Winnebago County associate judge (JD ’87). “Nonetheless, it was one of top law schools in the country and had a faculty that was both nationally and internationally renowned.

“Former dean and university chancellor John Cribbet had returned to teach property. Internationally known legal scholars on the faculty also included Ron Rotunda, John Nowak and Wayne LaFave. For a law geek like me, it was a wonderful experience.

“I’ve gone back to visit many times and today, the law school building is as impressive as the quality of legal education and scholarship provided within its walls.

“Memories are often study- and test-related, but I did find time — maybe too much time — to relax. The best times were those parties held at the off-campus apartments and homes of classmates, although there were many different gathering places depending on the group with which one hung. My friends and I favored the Illini Inn, with its Mug Club membership, and Papa Del’s in Campustown.

“During my time there, Illinois football was tremendous. Jack Trudeau and Jeff George were quarterbacks in the mid-’80s, both of whom went on to pro careers. To this day, friends and I attend at least one game a year at Memorial Stadium.

“In basketball, there was Coach Lou Henson and the ‘Lou Do.’ The Flyin’ Illini of 1988-89 had their genesis in the mid-’80s, although, in ’84-’85, the heavily favored Illini lost to Austin Peay in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It was an awesome time to be at the U of I.

“One of my most vivid memories of the campus and Campustown comes from finals. The graduate schools were on a different academic schedule than the undergraduates, with law school finals the week after the undergrads were gone. It was wonderful to wander the campus and Campustown in near silence.

"It was then that the charm and history of the University of Illinois and its host cities, Champaign and Urbana, made the greatest impression.

“I could get a cup of coffee at a shop on Daniel, walk to the law school, taking the long way through the Quad, and take time to enjoy the winter chill or the spring breeze, doing things like read the dedication on the Alma Mater or notice the plaque on the grave of the school’s first chancellor, Regent Gregory, between Altgeld Hall and the Administration Building.”