UI commission gathering more public input on moving past Chief

UI commission gathering more public input on moving past Chief

CHAMPAIGN — The University of Illinois is asking for more public input as it weighs the future of the campus post-Chief Illiniwek.

The Chancellor's Commission on Native Imagery: Healing and Reconciliation is asking the public to take a short online survey to "help the campus move forward on the matter of the permanently retired symbol Chief Illiniwek," the UI announced Monday.

Spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the commission wanted to give people who weren't involved in the "critical conversations" on the Chief and native imagery last year to offer their thoughts on the subject as well.

The commission will compile the comments as it develops recommendations for Chancellor Robert Jones before the end of this semester.

"It's not a vote at all," Kaler said, so there's no point in commenting twice. "It's just to try to get thoughts from people."

The survey consists of two questions, with answers limited to 100 words:

— "Based on the history surrounding the creation of Chief Illiniwek, what do you think were the best or worst intentions of the symbol?"

— "Describe the most significant impact on you and your community of symbols associated with University of Illinois spirit, such as Chief Illiniwek."

The survey will be open until Jan. 28. To take it, go to: go.illinois.edu/intentimpactcomments.

The commission, created last year, is co-chaired by Eric Jolly, a cognitive psychologist and former university administrator who is now president and CEO of the nonprofit Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations, and former Illini football captain Stu Levenick, a retired Caterpillar executive and longtime UI donor.

The commission plans to review the report from last year's conversations on the issue — which brought together staunch supporters and opponents of the Chief and many in between — then consider how the university can plant the seeds for a new "rallying point" for school spirit.

Jones has said the Chief, which was retired in 2007, won't be coming back, but the campus has to somehow commemorate its history on campus. He has asked the commission to recommend ways the campus can highlight the UI's native heritage and coalesce around new traditions, though he hasn't committed to a new mascot.