Governors State University
Governors State University Seal.jpg
TypePublic university
Established1969; 53 years ago (1969)
PresidentCheryl Green[1]
ProvostBeverly Schneller
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States
ColorsBlack and White
Sporting affiliations
MascotJax the Jaguar
Governors State University.png

Governors State University is a public university in University Park, Illinois. The 750 acres (3.0 km2) campus is located 30 miles (48 km) south of Chicago, Illinois. GSU was founded in 1969. It is a public university offering degree programs at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels. GSU has four colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Health and Human Services.


Governors State University was established as a state-supported, upper-division institution of education on July 17, 1969, when Illinois Governor Richard B. Ogilvie signed into law House Bill 666.[3] Originally scheduled to open to students in September 1973, the four-year planning period was reduced to two years and GSU received its first class of 500 students in September 1971.[4] The university utilized warehouse space as the temporary home during the campus construction.[4] Under the university's first president, William Engbretson, academic staff created an experimental educational environment focused on a collaborative learning environment between students and faculty in class sessions called modules that met for eight-week sessions.[4] GSU was one of the original "Universities without Walls" as well as a university that did not offer grades, but competencies. In place of departments, it had interdisciplinary studies, and all professors held the rank of University Professor.[4]

The university transitioned from the experimental curriculum to a more traditional model after Engbretson stepped down and Leo Goodman-Malamuth became GSU's second president.[4] GSU developed academic divisions and departments, professors with rank (Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor), and renovated the open space main building to classroom and office space.[4] Structured classes in a trimester schedule, along with traditional transcripts were other changes during the era.[4]

Following the original mandate to serve the underserved student populations such as veterans and nontraditional students with some college credits but no degree, the university developed telecourses in the 1980s.[4] The classes were held in one of GSU's two television studios then were made available via tape or as programming on cable channels.[4]

The first doctoral program was created in 2007 as a professional doctoral degree in physical therapy.[4] GSU further developed other doctoral programs in nursing, occupational therapy, and education.[4] In 2014, the state approved the university to expand curriculum for freshmen and sophomores.[4] Along with welcoming freshmen and sophomores to campus, the university opened its first on-campus residence hall, known as Prairie Place.[5] The university created small class sizes for freshmen with courses taught by full-time faculty and individual sessions capped at 30 students.[6]


The Campus is located 30 miles (48 km) south of Chicago. It is within 30 minutes' drive from cities Kankakee and Joliet as well as northwestern Indiana. The main campus is located on a 750-acre (3.0 km2) wooded landscape with several lakes and natural trails.

Points of interest


Governors State University Solar-thermal Systems
Governors State University Solar-thermal Systems

In 2008, GSU renovated several parking lots, replacing asphalt with permeable pavers—interlocking bricks that allow rainwater to seep down, trapping heavy metals and pollutants before they enter storm sewers. GSU is also home to one of the state's largest solar-thermal systems, which preheats water for the campus swimming pool and provides about one-third of the domestic hot water for the university's main building.

Governors State University's wind turbine
Governors State University's wind turbine

On October 21, 2010, Warren Ribley, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, announced a $153,000 grant for the 50-kilowatt wind turbine to be located on the University Park campus. With the installation of an on-campus wind turbine, Governors State University will continue reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, and move toward its goal of becoming Illinois’ "greenest" university. The wind turbine will give Governors State a clean, renewable source of energy, and also be incorporated into the university's academic programs.

On October 18, 2011, GSU held a groundbreaking ceremony for the beginning of the renovation of the university's science facilities. The $22.6 million, three year renovation project will create state-of-the-art education facilities while providing more than 130 construction jobs. In addition to the positive impact the renovation project will have on the region's economy, the building renovation will better equip GSU to educate students for regional jobs in healthcare, computer science, scientific, and mathematics research, and science and math education. The area to be renovated comprises approximately 76,000 square feet (7,100 m2) of space. During the renovation, crews will replace HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and lighting systems. Outmoded infrastructure and equipment will be replaced with modern facilities and equipment that will be energy-efficient and meet current codes and regulations. The project design calls for structural infill of existing atrium space, adding about 9,000 square feet (840 m2) of additional usable space. The renovated facilities will serve students and faculty in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, nursing, communication disorders, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

University Park station

University Park station opened in 1977, located adjacent to the GSU property along University Parkway. The station is the southern terminus of the Metra Electric District mainline and is 31.5 miles (50.7 km) away from the northern terminus at Millennium Station in downtown Chicago.[8]


GSU has the following colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, and Health and Human Services. The university as a whole is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The business programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the public administration program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). The university is also a member of the Illinois Council of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs.

Students can choose from 22 bachelor's, 27 graduate, and 4 doctoral degree programs. The university also offers 22 certificate programs. The most popular majors at Governors State University include: Accounting; Business Administration and Management; Liberal Arts; Biology; Criminal Justice; Computer Science; Information Technology; Elementary Education and Teaching; Psychology; Health Administration; and Social Work. All of the university's programs have earned appropriate professional accreditation (if such accreditation exists), and are recognized by their respective professions. The university itself is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. Eighty-five percent of the faculty members at this school hold a Ph.D. or the highest degree in their discipline, and most of the classes have fewer than 30 students.


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[9] in #117-#153 in Regional Universities Midwest
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[10] Not Ranked
Forbes[11] Not Ranked
U.S. News & World Report[12] Not Ranked
Washington Monthly[13] Not Ranked

In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked three programs at the university:


Governors State University was awarded the 2015 American Council on Education/Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation. It is given to "colleges or universities which, in a period of great change in higher education, have responded to challenges in innovative and creative ways that allows the institution to thrive."[14]

In 2014, GSU's Dual Degree Program was honored with the Student Success and College Completion Award by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.[15] In 2014, the National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition also recognized the Dual Degree Program at GSU with an award during its annual conference. The NRC launched the new award for "...institutions that have designed and implemented outstanding collaborative initiatives enhancing significant transitions during the undergraduate experience. Award recipients ... have demonstrated the effectiveness of the initiative in supporting student success, learning and development at a variety of transition points beyond the first college year and in responding to unique institutional needs."

The university also received the 2010 Governor's Sustainability Award for significant achievements in protecting the environment, helping sustain the future, and improving the economy. The awards were presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) during a luncheon in Champaign.

Student body

Fifty-one percent of Governors State's students are minorities and the average age of the students is 32.4 years old. Seventy percent of them are women.[16]


GSU Jaguars logo
GSU Jaguars logo

Governors State University's athletic teams are the Jaguars. They compete at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) level as a member of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC).[17] Men's teams compete in basketball, cross-country, golf, and soccer; while women's teams compete in basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, and volleyball.[17]

The addition of the intercollegiate athletic competition in the fall of 2014 coincided with expansion of the university's academic offerings to a four-year curriculum and admission acceptance of GSU's first freshman class.[4][17] GSU was accepted into membership by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for the 2015–16 school year.[18] Initially competing as an NAIA, the university gained membership in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) starting in the 2016-17 athletic season.[19] GSU's athletic program began with seven sports, men's and women's basketball, cross country and golf, and women's volleyball. The university also announced plans to grow the athletic department, adding baseball, softball and men's and women's soccer in the coming years.[17] Governors State's expanded athletics to field varsity men's and women's soccer starting in the August 2019.[20]

Notable people

Notable alumni

The university has more than 40,000 graduates who live in the United States and elsewhere.

Notable faculty

See also


  1. ^ "Governors State Announces Dr. Cheryl Green as its Sixth President" (Press release). May 15, 2020. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Fast Facts - Fall 2015" (PDF).
  3. ^ TF Andrews, Ted F. (1980). "History of GSU 1969-79". University Archives at OPUS Open Portal to University Scholarship. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Thomas, Marilyn (July 10, 2019). "GSU/50: Governors State University grows from a great experiment to a 4-year university". Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  5. ^ Lach, Jeanette (May 6, 2014). "Governors State names first mascot". Northwest Indiana Times. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  6. ^ Flaherty, Colleen (March 22, 2016). "For Freshmen, Only Full-Time Faculty". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  7. ^ "Welcome to Governors State University in Chicago Illinois". Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  8. ^ "University Park Transit-Oriented Development Study" (PDF). URS Corporation, under contract to the Regional Transportation Authority. September 2002. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  9. ^ "Best Colleges 2021: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  10. ^ "2020 Rankings -- Masters Universities". Washington Monthly. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  11. ^ "America's Top Colleges 2021". Forbes. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  12. ^ "2021 Best National University Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  13. ^ "2020 National University Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  14. ^ Denk, Angela. "GSU gets national award". Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  16. ^ "Welcome to Governors State University in Chicago Illinois". Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d Baranek, Tony (November 3, 2015). "Governors State is sporting a new look". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  18. ^ "NAIA Approves New Members at 74th Annual National Convention". April 14, 2015. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  19. ^ "Governors State University to Join CCAC in 2016-17". NAIA. October 23, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  20. ^ "Governors State to add Women's and Men's Soccer in 2019". CCAC. September 25, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  21. ^ "Herb Schumann: Candidate Profile". Daily Herald. October 2, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  22. ^ Breach, Chris. "Wells-Armstrong lands new job in Maywood". Daily Journal.

Coordinates: 41°26′55″N 87°43′00″W / 41.448645°N 87.716689°W / 41.448645; -87.716689