Faculty members and students who have had anything to do with UI correspondence courses probably know Susan Campanini, whose official title is that of coordinator of instructional development for the Guided Individual Study unit.
How long have you been at the UI?
I've been at Guided Individual Study for five years. But I got my bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. in French here. In the '70s, I worked for the language learning laboratory, and then I taught at Parkland College in the '80s, and in the beginning of the '90s I worked as the editor of a scientific journal, and then I came back to the UI and started at GIS.
Correspondence courses have kind of come of age now, and because of the changes in technology you don't even have to have stamps. You can use e-mail. So I enjoy working with the faculty to develop the courses, and for each course we provide a study guide that helps the students work with the textbook material. I edit the study guides and oversee their production.
You didn't stray far from the UI.
My husband is an alumnus too. We kind of ended up in this town because we came here to go to school and it became home. It's a nice place to live. I'm from Chicago, so I thought this was a gorgeous place. Trees. Cows. Clean air!
You make and sell beaded jewelry?
I got interested in the beads maybe seven or eight years ago. A friend of mine was going to get some beads to make something for her sister for Christmas and so I just went along to see what it was like to go to a bead store. And it was like a candy store with no calories.
I got hooked. I took a couple of one-day courses and I just really loved it, and I started making things for family and friends. Pretty soon, I didn't have enough ears to give them all to. I love the design aspect and I loved learning about how beads are made and what materials they're made from.
It's also very different from my work. In my job I e-mail and meet with people, and read and write and make decisions. But when I'm working with beads, it's all with my hands and the colors and shapes. And stringing them has a sort of its own Zen-like rhythm. It's a real nice balance for what I do all day in my job.
Do you work at jewelry-making every night?
Not necessarily every night but pretty often, as often as I can. Sometimes I'll go in the studio for just an hour or so while dinner's cooking. On weekends I might spend three or four hours doing it.
Where do you sell your jewelry?
Early on we started going to community events, like the Taste of Champaign-Urbana, Danville's Arts in the Park, and I've been doing the UI Moms Day show for years. I love that one. It's really fun. For this year's Moms Day show, we'll be in the South Lounge of the Illini Union for a one-day show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 17.
We go to about 12 arts and crafts fairs a year. These are juried shows. You get to know people and sometimes your customers are there waiting for you.
How does it happen that you have eight cats?
We had two cats for many years that lived to be 18 and 19. And when they passed it was just so empty that I started doing rescues. Now, we have three we got as kittens, but all the other guys were you know, cats that really needed a home. I would see ads in the paper from people who had taken in a stray and couldn't keep it. But I think we've stopped at eight.
Plus, you have eight Australian finches. How did that happen?
I don't even remember. I guess we must have seen them in a pet store or something and gotten two. And then I got a book about it. Books are always the downfall of people like me -- books on beads, books on gardening, books on pets, books on birds. And that's how it goes. But there are four different species in that cage and each has a very different song. And they're just really lovely.
And the rabbits?
Well, we were at that Prairie Farms petting zoo and they had these rabbits and we were petting them, and it was our wedding anniversary I think and this woman said, 'Y'know, these rabbits are for sale.' And that was it. There was no adult supervision.
What else do you do for fun?
Once in a while I paint and draw. Once in a while I play the piano. We both like to swim. And we have a regular discussion group once a week with some friends to keep our brains in shape. We discuss all kinds of things -- psychology, ecology, what's happening in the world, philosophy, meditation, history, science. And we both like to bird watch and go on wildflower trails and identify plants in the wild.
You have never regretted coming to CU and staying?
We're both devoted Champaign-Urbanites. Where else but a Midwestern college town could you have so many advantages of a big city without the disadvantages? We've got a great library, bookstores, exotic food, cosmopolitan people and yet, it's fairly cheap. You can afford to buy a home. And sure, we have lousy weather, but there are a lot of beautiful parks. It's just a good place to live.