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EIU Media Relations

Son Gives EIU Scrapbook Compiled by Former President Buzzard


Buzzard scrapbook presentationCharles "Buzz" Buzzard understands the importance of looking to the past to fully appreciate the present.

That's why Buzzard, the youngest of four sons of Eastern Illinois University's second sitting president, Robert G. Buzzard, was proud to present EIU with a scrapbook that his late father compiled about his life and times.

"Charles has given us something very meaningful to our university and very valuable to our history," said EIU President Bill Perry.

Buzzard previously donated to University Archives a large amount of paperwork that had belonged to his father, including many letters and his doctoral dissertation. But the scrapbook tells much more about the man and his family.

"Approximately three years before my father's death, he told me one night he was going to do a scrapbook on his life," Buzzard said. "That's the last I heard of it."

Buzzard didn't see the book until 25 years after his father's death, when Robert Buzzard's sister found it in her garage and shipped it to her nephew.

"As soon as I saw it, I said, 'Ah, the scrapbook! It came back to life!'" Buzzard humorously recalled.

He took it to an archiving company to have its contents placed on DVD, and a woman there called him the next day and asked for a few extra days to complete the task.

"We're finding it so interesting reading it," she told Buzzard. And he completely understood.
Its pages contain a wealth of information, from Buzzard's family history to the story of his academic career -- "those things which he felt were important for family and the institution to know about after he was gone," Buzzard said.

Buzzard said he learned a lot from looking through the scrapbook's many pages detailing his father's life (1890-1979).

The people in each picture -- including one of President Buzzard with Eleanor Roosevelt during her 1938 visit to Eastern -- are identified in Buzzard's own handwriting.

The presentation took place in University Archives, located in Booth Library. The location was fitting, said Allen Lanham, dean of library services, as President Buzzard oversaw the original building's construction.

Booth Library was the first free-standing library on campus, and at the time, the decision to build it so far south of campus was controversial. In retrospect, the decision was "brilliant," Lanham said, as the campus has grown around the building, making it a central location.

Buzzard explained many other ways his father moved the university forward. For example, during his presidency, five other buildings were dedicated: McAfee Gymnasium, the Physical Science Building, Lincoln and Douglas residence halls, and the then-under-construction Buzzard Hall.

And the ideals his father stood for remain in place at Eastern today, as well: small class sizes, accessibility to education, and the importance of graduates going out and making their communities better places to live.

"His vision was for a university that would serve southeastern Illinois ... so that their children could grow up and have an education, because the way to grow is through education," Buzzard said. "The whole concept was he wanted southeastern Illinois to become a better place for families to live -- all those little towns and the farms in between."

Buzzard said it was easy to decide the rightful home of his father's scrapbook, as he wanted it to go "to the institution he'd be so proud of today."

Buzzard and his wife, Joan, traveled from their home in Lakeway, Texas, to make the presentation. They were accompanied by son Tom of Phoenix, Ariz., who was making his first visit to Charleston to see where his father was raised.

"Don't ever forget where you grew up -- your roots -- because that's what makes you who you are today," Buzzard said.

Coincidentally, the trip will also help generations of Eastern students, faculty and staff to understand the university's roots.

"Eastern was my father and mother's life," Buzzard said. "Therefore, it's important that this institution and the students who come here understand how this institution became what it is today."



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Josh Reinhart, Public Information Coordinator

2142 Old Main
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
Fax: 217-581-8444

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