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U. of I. seeking information on missing historical markers


Historical marker honoring Nick Holyak Jr.
Click photo to enlarge
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Celebrating history
A historical marker honoring Nick Holonyak Jr., the John Bardeen Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics, was placed on the northeast side of Burrill Bridge on the Bardeen Engineering Quad on Nov. 9. Three similar markers have been stolen from various sites around campus, and campus officials are asking for help in finding them.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Officials at the U. of I. are asking for the public’s help in locating several historical markers stolen from sites around the Urbana campus.

The bronze markers, which weigh 75 pounds apiece and were installed on 6-foot poles sunk several feet into concrete, commemorate significant people, discoveries, events and places in the history of the Urbana campus. Five markers have been stolen since early 2006; two have been recovered, and U. of I. officials hope that community members can help them find the three markers still missing.

On Oct. 20, a marker titled “Physical Fitness Research Laboratory,” which honors lab director Thomas K. Cureton and his influence on the fitness movement in America, was stolen from outside the west entrance of Huff Hall.

Another marker (“PLATO”), which commemorates the computer-based education system created by Don L. Bitzer and Chalmers W. Sherwin, was stolen from Everitt Lab.

Also missing is a marker titled “Lincoln Scholarship” that had been put in place on the north side of Lincoln Hall in honor of Abraham Lincoln scholar James Garfield Randall. The marker is believed to have been taken during January or early February 2006.

Two other markers that were stolen have been recovered, including a marker titled “Archaea” that was stolen shortly after it was installed. The marker, which was put up outside Burrill Hall on Nov. 2, commemorates scientist Carl Woese’s discovery of a third form of life.

On Nov. 10, pedestrians alerted a U. of I. police officer who was on patrol in the area that they had found the marker in the grass near the loading dock at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The marker had been broken off its mounting pole and moved about one block.

On or about Sept. 24, a marker commemorating John Bardeen’s Nobel Prize-winning theory of superconductivity was stolen from a pole on the southeast side of Burrill Bridge but was later recovered by police. The bridge is on the Bardeen Quad north of Green Street.

The markers are valued at $1,500 each, and installation for each marker costs an additional $500. Thirty-one of the markers have been placed around campus thus far, and nine other markers have yet to be installed, according to Robin Kaler, associate chancellor for public affairs, who chaired the committee that oversaw the project.

“The markers were installed to build pride and help people see all of the amazing things that have happened on this campus, so it’s really distressing that anyone would – for whatever reason – take away the opportunity for other people to learn about the important things that have happened at Illinois,” Kaler said.

Anyone with information about the missing historical markers is urged to contact Investigator Robert Murphy at the U. of I. police department at 333-1216 or to call Champaign County CrimeStoppers at 373-TIPS.