Late for class? How about an excuse from the governor?

Late for class? How about an excuse from the governor?

If you're going to have an excuse for missing class, you might as well go big.

UI junior Will Goff knew he was cutting it close with his 2:15 p.m. History of Media class Thursday afternoon when he was asked to attend a 1:45 p.m. press conference at the Illini Union with Gov. Pat Quinn.

The governor was on campus to tout his proposed funding increase for a state grant program, and Goff was one of the 17 grant recipients on hand.

As these things go, the governor was a bit tardy. Class was half over by the time the press conference wrapped up.

Associate Chancellor Robin Kaler had offered to write the students a note for class if needed, but then she told Goss, "How about we get a signature from the governor?" Quinn readily agreed.

The note was short: "To whom it may concern, William Goff is with me, it's OK," signed "Governor Quinn."

Then the governor handed Goss his business card and Kaler snapped a photo, for additional proof. Quinn chatted with Goss for a few moments before leaving.

"I thought it was hilarious," Goss said.

Best tardy slip ever? "Absolutely. It was completely unexpected, but it was a pretty cool memento."

Goss went to his class, waited until it was over and then handed the note to his professor.

"I don't think she paid much attention. I don't think she read it closely," he said.

To be clear, Goss didn't actually give it to her; he agreed to send her a copy.

The original is going in a frame, or in a collector's box for "things that I feel are worthy."

It's the second big autograph of his life. The first came from a certain U.S. senator from Chicago who now lives in the White House. It's also in the box.

"I was in the sixth grade at a fundraising function, and I got Obama's signature with a pen," said Goss, who is from Hyde Park.

All pretty heady stuff for the 21-year-old political science major, who has an eye on a career in politics "way down the road." Right now he's interning with state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, and studying for law school entrance exams.

But will Thursday's encounter influence his vote for governor?

"I tend to do a little bit more research," Goss said. "It was awesome that I got his signature, but it definitely won't be swaying me either way."

Goss got lots of texts from friends and family who saw news coverage of the press conference. But they were surprised to find out about the note.

"I haven't put it on Facebook yet. When I do I'm sure it'll get tons of 'likes,'" he said.

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