Global True Lithuania Encyclopedia of Lithuanian heritage worldwide

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

Champaign-Urbana is home to the major campus of the University of Illinois. This campus is especially popular among the Lithuanian-American community. Lithuanian students have created a Lithuanian Club that has since evolved into a Baltic Club that also accepts Latvians and Estonians (but typically is Lithuanian-majority). Established in 1955, the club once even had a Baltic House where Baltic students lived together (in the early 1980s). As of 2021, the club has some 80 members of which 20-30 are active. Alumni would also join in during the biggest events. The university library also has a collection of Lithuanian books.

That said, for a long time, there was little visible Lithuanian heritage in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That changed in 2019 when a statue for one of the university‘s most famous alumni – Dick Butkus – was unveiled near the stadium of the university‘s Fighting Illini team. One of the most famous American (Gridiron) Football players altogether and a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Dick Butkus played for the university in 1962-1964 as the center and linebacker.

Dick Butkus statue in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

Dick Butkus statue in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

The impressive statue depicting charging Butkus was donated by Joyce family with inscription „As a Chicagoan, I‘m thankful that Dick Butkus went to Illinois when every other school in the country wanted him. But he chose to stay home(...)“.

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