• New Building, Fall 2019
  • Chancellor and in front of Statue
  • New Building Construction
  • New Building Front Construction
  • New Building Soderstrom Plaza Construction
  • Statue at Sunset
  • Statue Installation
  • New Building Construction

Welcome Home

Many months and many disruptions later ... LER has completed our six million dollar building renovation and addition. We've been so pleased to "show off" to our fall visitors who are here for class and recruitment.

Students are thrilled to again be back in the building after a year of class in two classrooms across the street in the Armory. The ability to build community with their classmates, other cohorts, faculty, and staff has obviously increased with the return to the LER building. The new space includes an accessible front entrance, open lobby, active-learning classroom for 30 students, tiered lecture space for 60 students, and an open and attractive back plaza outside the building. Upgrades to the existing building include new finishes, lighting and furniture for all PhD offices; new windows throughout the building; new lighting, ceiling, flooring and paint for the existing Wagner Education Center; and two additional bathrooms.

Each fall, numerous alumni return to LER to recruit interns and early-career hires for their respective organizations, and their feedback was overwhelming. “The new building space is amazing! It is refreshed and updated while still maintaining the familiarity of the building that makes it special,” says Sara Greenberg, MHRIR 13, HR Manager for Global Marketing, General Mills. “I absolutely loved seeing the new building space; it made me want to come back and complete my MHRIR a second time!”

We could not have reached our goal without the support of our alumni and friends. There were over 390 alumni, faculty, staff, corporate partners, supporters, and matching gift programs that supported this project. In addition, there were more than 145 donors who purchased LER Brick Pavers for the Soderstrom Plaza behind the LER building.

Our donors and supporters were recognized during our Building Celebration weekend September 12-14. Visitors came to see the Investiture of the LER Alumni Professorship, attend a "grown-up TNP" alumni happy hour at Illini Inn, have coffee with faculty and recruiters, visit the Scholarship Reception, listen to Alan May give an opening address in the new Puccini Lecture Hall, enjoy the building celebration reception, and attend a tailgate in the new Soderstrom Plaza.

Soderstrom Plaza, along with the newly-created Reuben G. Soderstrom International Labor Relations Professorship, are gifts of Carl Soderstrom, M.D., and the Soderstrom family in honor of family patriarch Reuben Soderstrom. Reuben was instrumental in lobbying the State of Illinois to both create a "labor college" at the University of Illinois and later to create the funds to build the original "ILIR" building.

In a very heartfelt speech at the celebration, Carl said that Reuben's "family, along with the grateful college and University administration at all levels, is acknowledging [his] tremendous value and moving to the future with renewed vigor and energy ... His presence is all-encompassing, and millions of Illinoisans and citizens of the United States enjoy a better life because he lived and suffered, found solutions, and passed legislation that led millions of citizens and those in the labor movement to the pursuit of happiness."

In addition to Soderstrom, the occasion was marked by speeches from Chancellor Robert Jones, Provost Andreas Cangellaris, Dean Fritz Drasgow, and PepsiCo Vice President and LER alumnus Tim Brinkmann.

Jo Puccini marked the dedication of the Puccini Lecture Hall in the new space with comments about her late daughter, Nancy, an alumna of the program. "She had a wonderful career, and she never looked for a new job - the jobs looked for her," related Jo. She credited her daughter's professional success to her then-ILIR education and the amazing network of professionals created by the program.

We offer our deep gratitude to all of the donors and friends who made this project possible, including the hard work of Cordogan Clark and Associates, our architect, and Petry Kuhne Company, our general contractor. If you have questions about joining us in support of the project through naming a space in the new building or joining our donor wall, contact Cory Hatfield at coryhat@illinois.edu.

Come visit the building soon, and see how many things have changed ... and how our community remains the same: strong, and dedicated to the success of our students and alumni


Donors who purchased LER Brick Pavers for the Soderstrom Plaza behind the LER building

"The new space provides a great environment to work with faculty and fellow students on the skills I'll need to be an HR professional."

Rebecca Alexander, Student


Alumni, faculty, staff, corporate partners, supporters and matching gift programs that supported this project.

"Both teaching and learning will get a boost from using the new and remodeled spaces. It allows for a lot of collaboration, and use of technology. It will also help us to recruit students who come to visit LER before they decide between us and peer programs. It's very impressive!"

Amit Kramer, Professor

Find more photos of building construction on our Facebook page!

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