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Last Updated: Oct 11, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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GSU Opens for Students

GSU held its first day of classes on September 12, 1971.

See the top stories from the first issue of GSU's Faze 1 employee newsletter:

Faze 1 Newsletter

Image Source: Faze 1 September 17, 1971
Date Source: Faze 1 September 4, 1981 p. 3.


Learning Modules

Governors State University offered learning modules when it first opened. A learning module could be a seminar, a series of lectures, an experiment, an independent study, or a combination of these. It could last a few days, a few weeks, or an entire year. Credit assigned to a module varied between 1 and 8 credits. 

For the most part, the educational objectives of a learning module were expressed in behavioral, measurable terms. The objectives could be cooperatively developed by the student and the teacher. The student received credit based on the quality and quantity of objectives mastered. Transcripts showed the name of the learning module, credit units earned, and behaviors or competencies mastered. No listings were made of objectives not completed or still in progress.

Much of the work within a module was individualized and self-paced. Offering learning modules instead of traditional classes was an example of the innovation that GSU represented.

Text Source: Innovative and Experimental Practices at GSU p. 1-2.

Additional resources:

View Schedule of Learning Modules: First Session 1971-2 This document includes the course titles, coordinators names, number of units, meeting days and times, meeting place, and index number.

View President Engbretson's memo from November 25,1970 which defines the term 'learning module' and describes the planning paramaters and guidelines for assigning credit for the modules.

Learn more about GSU's Innovative Education.


Mini-Campus Building

Mini Campus photo by Jacob Liao

Photo of the Mini-Campus exterior taken by Jacob Liao, December 1971.
Source: University Archives Image Bank, Warehouse file. 


First Student

First studentFidelis Nwokedi Amatokwu was the first student to be enrolled in the University. He studied in the College of Human Learning and Development (CHLD) and graduated with a Masters of Arts degree in GSU's first commencement ceremony on June 24, 1973.



Innovator July 1973 graduation edition p. 6
Commencement Program for 1973 p. 5.


First Class

Dr. Lowell Culver of the College of Business and Public Service taught the first GSU class - "American Government". The class was taught at 8 a.m. to seven students.

Source: F.Y.I. April 17, 1989 p. 3.


Campus life in a converted warehouse

GSU opened its doors two years ahead of schedule, before the campus was even built. To accommodate students, faculty, and staff a warehouse was built in an industrial complex. This warehouse was known as the mini-campus. The photo below shows a gathering in the student commons. Additional images from the mini-campus can be found among our Digital Collections.


First there was a warehouse. And the warehouse became Governors State University. Some loved it. Others hated it. It was a strange way to start out, but many called it 'home'. The geodesic dome for a student center, a learning resources center for a library, no classrooms per se, audio and video stations in plastic bubbles that looked like igloos - all these things were part of GSU's open and humane philosophy, said Tommy Dascenzo, director of Student Life. "It certainly didn't fit any image of what a campus would look like."

Read the entire article Warehouse Becomes GSU by Marilyn Thomas.



Interim Campus Site

Interim Campus 
The interim (mini-campus) site was located on Central Avenue, just north of the Monee-Manhattan Road in the Governors Gateway Industrial Park of Park Forest South. 

Students coming to the University by car could use highways 50, 54, and I-57. There was no direct train or bus transportation when the school first opened. In 1977, a Metra commuter train stop was added.

Image source: 1973 Bulletin inside back cover.

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