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Bridging Divides

The Origins of the Beckman Institute at Illinois

Theodore L. Brown

Publication Year: 2009

This book offers a first-hand account of the origins of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, an interdisciplinary research institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign devoted to leading-edge research in the physical sciences, computation, engineering, biology, behavior, cognition, and neuroscience. Theodore L. Brown, the Institute's founding director, brings an insider's personal perspective on its conception and its early operations. _x000B_ _x000B_Brown follows the progress of the Institute's creation, from the initial conceptualization of a large, multidisciplinary institute; through proposal formulation; to the architectural design and actual construction of its state-of-the-art building, completed in 1989 and made possible by the largest gift made to any public university at the time: a $40 million contribution from Illinois alumnus and founder of Beckman Instruments, Inc., Arnold O. Beckman and his wife Mabel M. Beckman.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

No single event in recent decades had a greater impact on the University of Illinois than the creation of the Beckman Institute. At the center was Ted Brown, who is uniquely qualified to capture the drama surrounding one of the most innovative academic creations of the era. ...

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pp. xiii-xvi

There is a good reason that leaders of this institution continually point to the Beckman Institute as a successful research model. Many parties played a role in shaping Arnold Beckman’s generous gift into a lasting legacy. The foreword by Stan Ikenberry and Ted Brown’s account convey just how remarkable an accomplishment the formation of the institute was. ...

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pp. xvii-xviii

Arnold and Mabel Beckman’s $40 million gift to the University of Illinois for creation of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Urbana- Champaign was an extraordinary event in the history of the university. ...

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1. Forging the Proposal

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pp. 1-12

Our story begins quite a long time back.* Arnold Beckman was born in the small town of Cullom, Illinois, about seventy miles north of Urbana-Champaign. He grew up there and in Bloomington, Illinois, where he was a student at the laboratory high school associated with what was then Illinois Normal University. ...

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2. October 5, 1985: The Institute Is Born

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pp. 13-25

The Beckman gift was announced on Saturday, October 5, 1985, during the fall meeting of the University of Illinois Foundation. The announcement was made at a meeting in the auditorium of the College of Law. Stan Ikenberry began with a general announcement of the $40 million gift. ...

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3. Building the Institute

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pp. 26-35

The groundbreaking ceremony took place in October 1986 during the University of Illinois Foundation’s annual meeting (figure 3), one year after the announcement of the gift. The Beckmans were of course present, as was Stan Ikenberry, Tom Everhart, and other notables, including Governor James Thompson, ...

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4. Choosing Programs

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pp. 36-46

In the fall of 1987, just two years after the announcement of the Beckman gift, we had made excellent progress on the design and construction of the Beckman Institute. The success or failure of the institute as a multidisciplinary research center would turn, however, on our ability to attract the participation of an outstanding faculty from the campus and elsewhere. ...

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5. The Institute Goes Public

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pp. 47-56

As the site development moved ahead, the temporary quarters we had enjoyed in the converted apartment building had to go. Accordingly, we moved into basement space in the institute. A temporary entry was constructed on the north side, where there would eventually be a stairway. ...

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6. Bringing the Institute to Life

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pp. 57-71

In the wake of the inauguration excitement, it was time to do the many things necessary for the institute to become effective. Among them was putting together a staff. By this time the Beckman Institute had an annual state budget for operations, with understandings of how maintenance would be shared between the institute and the university’s physical plant. ...

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7. The Beckman Foundation: Arnold's Last Years

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pp. 72-78

At the time of Mabel’s death in June 1989, the Beckmans had disposed of a considerable fraction of their wealth through philanthropic activities. Centers and institutes had been established at the University of Illinois, the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, California, ...

Appendix 1. Letters of Appointment of Faculty Committees to Prepare Proposals

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pp. 79-85

Appendix 2. Letters of Appointment of Program, Adminsitrative and Steering Committees

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pp. 86-101

Appendix 3. Instructions for Proposal Submission

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pp. 102-104


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pp. 105-108

E-ISBN-13: 9780252090646
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252034848

Page Count: 128
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology -- History.
  • Research institutes -- Illinois -- History.
  • Science -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Illinois -- History.
  • Technology -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Illinois -- History.
  • Beckman, Arnold O.
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