• 1940 – Vernon Kretschmer is named first Director.
  • 1940 – The Book Exchange changes its name to Illini Union Bookstore, though it remains in the Arcade Building.
  • 1941 – The Illini Union officially opens its doors on February 8.
  • 1941 – Illini Union Advisory Committee changes its name to Illini Union Board (IUB) and merges with the Men’s and Women’s League to make one group.
  • 1942 – The Board of Trustees approves the request for IUB to advise on building matters and policies
  • 1942 – A subgroup of IUB, called Illini Union Student Activities (IUSA), forms to direct programming for the building while IUB will remain focused on policy.
  • 1942 – First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt attends the first anniversary and cuts the cake.
  • 1943 – The university joins the Armed Services Training Program and uses the Illini Union’s Ballroom as Army Mess Hall.
  • 1944 – Spring Carnival “Mardi Gras” premieres to raise money for Red Cross.
  • 1945 – War Whoops Pep Club, predecessor to Block I, is founded.
  • 1947 – Films program introduced.
Overlooking the Illini Union construction site
Clearing the area for construction
Original construction photo of the Illini Union
Construction picture from 1939.
The Cupola being finished in 1940
Front of the Union under construction
Front of the Illini Union in 1940
Front of the Illini Union in 1940