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Among the 2,012 former students and faculty members featured on our Gies College of Business-powered ‘UI at 150 & Beyond’ website: 1962 College of ACES grad LARRY WERRIES, who served as director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture from 1981-89.

It was a whole different campus in Larry Werries’ day — starting with the price of admission.

“The tuition as I entered the U of I that fall was $125 per semester,” says the former state agriculture director and proud member of the Class of 1962.

“During my time there, the Assembly Hall was under construction. The decision was made to raise the tuition and fees to $135 per semester to help pay for that impressive structure, which is now known as State Farm Center — but not to me.

“I wasn’t all that concerned with the fee increase as I had an academic scholarship which covered tuition and fees — worth an amazing $1,000 for the four years.”

For spending money, Werries worked part time at Kam’s, “flipping burgers and serving up draft beers” in the summer of 1961 — a far less interesting gig than the one he landed at the UI’s Genetics Lab, located near the livestock pavilion on south campus.

“A couple of professors were working on a substance which would lead to heat synchronization in sheep. My job was to observe the ewes and a ram’s interest in amorous activity when the substance was removed,” he says. “For that, I was paid an astounding $1.25 per hour. I also fed, watered and cleaned cages of mice, rats and guinea pigs.

“I sat next to Dick Butkus in an English Lit class. He treated me like any other regular person would, even though I had already figured out that he was destined for greatness.

“The graduation speaker in June of 1962 was Gov. Otto Kerner. Who could have known at that time that I would later be appointed to the position of Illinois ag director by James Thompson, who became governor largely because of his successful prosecution of Kerner in some sort of racetrack stock scheme?

“My degree from the Big U had everything to do with that appointment.”

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