Larry Fisher: My ACES Story

Larry Fisher: My ACES Story

Sep 13
My ACES Story, 150th Anniversary Guest Blogger

Over the past 150 years, the University of Illinois and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences have been at the forefront of education, discovery, and translation. From improving people’s lives to stretching the frontiers of knowledge, ACES graduates are changing our world for the better. In this special Voices of ACES blog series, we are celebrating and embracing our past. Our ACES story is unique, and its characters are doing remarkable work – work that truly matters.

By Larry Fischer, M.S. ’74 Agricultural Education

Once ACES is in your blood, it’s hard to let it go. I guess that’s why I found myself serving on the College of Agriculture Alumni Association Board and subsequent ACES Alumni Association Board, the Illinois 4-H Foundation Board, and the Chancellor’s Commission on Extension. One of my favorite “board” stories surrounded the construction of the ACES library. Lynette Marshall spoke at one of our alumni meetings about how the college needed a new library. She explained that John Campbell, the previous dean, was instrumental in kicking off the fundraising campaign, successfully soliciting $1 million from the Funk family. The campaign was nearing the 10-year mark; almost $10 million had been raised privately, but it was still not enough to construct the library. After hearing these reports over and over, I was getting tired of them.

As board president I finally said, “Why don’t we follow the old model of the PTA organization and ask the state legislature to provide 50 percent of the money for the project if we can raise the other half? It’s time we get this project done!” I offered to write each Illinois senator and representative in the General Assembly to request an appropriation for the half of the funds we did not have, since we knew it would be a $20-million project. Thankfully, Warren Wessels said, “By gosh, let’s do it! I’ll even write the letter for you to sign, Larry.” I sent the letter on behalf of the ACES Alumni Association. The rest is history, and the library construction was completed in 2001.


We invite you to tell us your ACES story as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the University of Illinois and the College of ACES. Share your story on social media using #ACESstory, or visit