Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: June 24, 2018

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: June 24, 2018

Thirty-three years ago today —June 24, 1985— longtime University of Illinois faculty representative Leslie Bryan died at the age of 85. From 1959-68, he represented the university and its faculty in the UI's relationships with the NCAA and the Big Ten, and also chaired UI's Athletic Council, the faculty's voice on issues of academic policy related to student-athletes.

In November of 1966, Bryan was called upon to fill in as Illinois' interim Director of Athletics when Doug Mills was forced to give up his post due to the Big Ten investigation known as the "Slush Fund." Bryan yielded the interim A.D. title in 1967 when Gene Vance was named to the position.

A native of southern New York State, Bryan served as an infantry lieutenant during World War I in France, became a pilot and later rose to colonel in the Air Force Reserve. He later served as director of the New York State Bureau of Aviation and was a Civil Air Patrol commander in that state.

Shortly after UI's Willard Airport was dedicated in 1945, the former Syracuse University professor and president of the Seneca Flying School joined Illinois' faculty. Bryan observed the university's fleet of training planes and proposed that the University initiate a college curriculum as a preparation for the business side of air transportation.

In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower presented Bryan the Frank G. Brewer Trophy, awarded by the National Aeronautic Association for contributions to the field of flying.

Bryan's national reputation as an aviation expert resulted in an invitation by the Civil Aeronautics Authority in 1958 to participate in the development of the Washington National Airport. A year later, he received the President's Award of the American Association of Airport Executives for service to the profession.

Upon Bryan's retirement in 1968, United Airlines gave the university a 64-passenger, four-engine airliner in his honor.

Illini Birthdays:

Today: Gimel President, football (24)

Monday: Dana Brenner, administrator (64)

Tuesday: Deron Williams, basketball (34)

Wednesday: Steve Cyboran, golf (50)

Thursday: Shawn Wax, football (50)

Friday: Bill Brown, football (80)

Saturday: Emily Barretta, tennis (23)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter@B1GLLL. His website is

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