Illini Everywhere: Chilean Illini, Since 1914

Since at least 1914, Chilean students have been attending the University of Illinois. Early Chilean Illini have included agricultural economists, ceramic engineers, chemical engineers, chemists, civil engineers, dancers, educators, electrical engineers, industrial engineers, musicians, physicists, professors, student leaders, and writers too.

Read on to learn more about early Chilean Illini!

Illinois – Chile Connections

In 1910, future University President David Kinley (Record Series 2/6/20) attended the 4th Annual Pan-American Conference and photographs from his trip to Washington D.C., Argentina, and Chile can be viewed at the University Archives. Later, Dr. Kinley received an honorary membership in the faculty of the University of Chile. In 1915, he joined the membership of the Permanent Group Committee of the Pan-American Conference assigned to Chile. In 1918, Chilean jurist Dr. Alejandro Alvarez came to campus and gave a lecture titled “Necessity of Reconstructing International Law”. Not long later, in 1919, W. R. Allen was appointed a traveling fellow in Chile and Peru. [1] In 1929, the Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station and the Chilean Nitrate of Soda Educational Bureau of New York City formed a cooperative agreement to investigate the effect of nitrate of soda on soil and crop growth, to determine the best methods of utilization as a fertilizer. [2] For academic year 1956-57, Plant Pathology Professor David Gottlieb took a leave of absence to work on a plant pathology project in Chile. [3] Beginning in 1961, the Illinois Studies in Anthropology publication series (Record Series 7/1/816) has since included anthropological studies in countries including Chile too.

Did you know that Chilean pianist Mr. Claudio Arrau, performed on campus as part of the Star Course on January 13, 1943? And did you read the enthusiastic DI review and the DI interview too?


During the early 1900s, many Illini began their careers in Chile, not long after graduation. Mr. Walter J. Kanne, (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1906), of Waterville, Minnesota, later relocated to Rancagua, Chile, for work related to milling and smelting. [4] Around the same time, Ms. Mary B. McLellan, (A.B. Library Science, 1906), of Hyde Park, Massachusetts, worked as a teaching in an English language institute in Santiago, Chile. [5] Mr. Royal E. Post, (B.S. Civil Engineering, 1906), of Rochester, New York, joined the Braden Copper Company in Rancagua, as a construction engineer in 1917. [6] Ms. Clara M. Brooks, (B.L.S., 1912), of Saunemin, Illinois, relocated to Antofagasta, Chile, and her husband Ralph A. Bennit (B.S. Civil Engineering, 1913; M.S. Civil Engineering, 1917), of Sandwich, Illinois, took a position as a civil engineer with the Chuquicamata mine. [7] [8] Mr. Morris L. Becker, (B.S. Mining Engineering, 1913), was born in Russia, before coming to Chicago at a young age and later to Illinois which took him to the Guggenheim Mine in Rancagua. [9] Mr. Chester A. Vincent, (B.S. Civil Engineering, 1913), of Troutdale, Oregon, was a civil engineer in Rancagua, from 1914 until 1917, when he returned to Oregon. [10] Mr. Leo M. Chesrown, (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1914), of Olney, Illinois, also worked as an engineer in Chile. [11] Mr. Charles M. Huffer, (A.M. Astronomy, 1917), of Edinburg, Indiana, took a position as an astronomer in Santiago, just after graduation in 1917. [12] Finally, Mr. Manuel L. Lopez, (A.M. Spanish, 1918), a Spanish Illini, of Granada, Spain, prepared at a school in Chile, before completing a graduate degree at Illinois. [13]

A review of the 1916 University of Illinois Directory identifies even more alumni in Chile. Mr. Robert Paul Anderson, (1902-03; Engineering, 1904-06), of Onarga, Illinois, relocated to Santiago for work. Mr. Earl Armetige Baber, (1900-02), of Sadorus, Illinois, relocated to Valparaiso for work. Mr. Thomas Henry Barclay, (1886-87; Science 1887-91), relocated to Santiago for work. He was also joined by his wife Emma Gayman (1887-1888; Science 1888-89). Mr. Charles Krum Davis, (Civil Engineering, 1907-08), joined the Broden Copper Company at Rancagua. Finally, Mr. James Francis Garvien Jr. (Architectural Engineering, 1913-14) relocated to Santiago for work too.


One of the first Chilean Illini might have been Mr. Newman Romero, (A.B. Liberal Arts and Sciences), of Tennico, who prepared at Urbana High School before attending Illinois. [14]

Two of the earliest Chilean Illini might be Mr. Enrique Felix Cruchaga, (Mining Engineering, 1914-15) and Mr. Louis Lorca Ossa, (Chemical Engineering, 1914-1915). Mr. Ossa was an active student leader who was an early member of Latin American Club and the literary organization Centro Literario Espanol. As one of the few Chilean students on campus, sometimes, Mr. Ossa was an invited to speak at community events. For example, as part of a ten-student panel, at the invitation of the United Charities of Champaign and Urbana, Mr. Ossa gave a talk about the Chilean economy titled “Recent Development of Home Industries” in November 1914. The following week, he was elected president of Latin American Club. At that time, club elections were each semester; but, Mr. Ossa was reelected for the following term. At the same time, Mr. Ossa was also a member of the literary group Centro Literario Espanol and he gave at least one club talk titled “The Modern Woman” in February 1915. That following March, before taking a position with General Electric in Chicago, Mr. Ossa was treated with a farewell dinner at the Beardsley Hotel, surrounded by club members.

During the Fall 1917 term, Ms. Eliza Curtis, (B.A. 1919), of Santiago, arrived on campus and was a member of Spanish Club by October. Supported by the Chilean government for four years, Ms. Curtis studied high school organization and foreign language teaching. As it happens, Ms. Curtis later became an instructor in romance languages, and she remained in town for a few years. By 1920, Ms. Curtis was a member of the University of Illinois Women’s Club. But by 1921, Ms. Curtis had already taken a position at Grinnell College in Iowa.

Ms. Lenore Lopez, (B.A. , 1920), Santiago In 1919, she was elected secretary of the Y.W.C.A. Geneva Echo Club. That same year, she was also an organizer for the Spanish Club picnic at local Crystal Lake park. For her senior year, Ms. Lopez was a member of the Illiola Illinois literary society too. At the November 1919 World Fellowship week hosted by the Y.M.C.A., with two other students, Ms. Lopez gave a panel talk about economic and social experiences of women in education in Chile and Mexico. She was a member of the Women’s Cosmopolitan Club too. In March 1920, Ms. Lopez was part of another well-received multicultural women’s event at the Y.M.C.A., featuring university women performing folk music. The next month, at a Spanish Club meeting, Ms. Lopez gave a reading titled “Alas”.

Mr. Luis F. Chamy, (B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1929), . He was part of the 1926 Spanish Club performance of Don Quixote. For academic year 1926-1927, he was the Cosmopolitan Club secretary. He was an athlete too. In Chile, Mr. Chamy had played soccer for over seven years. In October 1926, he competed in an intramural tennis tournament before competing in a water polo tournament too. In October 1927, when the soccer team was revived, Mr. Chamy was a center-half. Mr. Chamy’s skills were described as “stellar“, “outstanding“, “uncanny“, and he was even described as Illinois soccer’s Babe Ruth, and he was captain by 1928. In October 1928, in a long interview with the Daily Illini, Mr. Chamy carefully described the sport of soccer.

Mr. Israel Godoy, (B.S. Civil Engineering, 1945), joined Cosmopolitan Club in 1943 and it was there where much of his student leadership is documented. In 1943, Mr. Godoy was club librarian. In 1944, he played on the club soccer team. Finally, for senior year, Mr. Godoy was club recording secretary too.

Mr. Stelio Cembrano, (B.S. Chemical Engineering, 1946), of Santiago, left few records behind.

Mr. Patricio Grez, (B.S. Civil Engineering, 1947), of Santiago, was a co-chairman of the 1946 Latin American Coffee Hour which included singing and dancing too. Unfortunately, he may have lost his wallet during the Spring 1946 term too, as can be seen in the Daily Illini classifieds on April 6, 7, and 10.

Mr. Gaston Jose Silva, (B.S. Civil Engineering, 1947), of Santiago, was a musical performer at the 1946 Latin American Coffee Hour.

Mr. Uri Pimstein, (B.S. Ceramics, 1951; M.S. Ceramics, 1952), of Santiago, could be often found dancing at late night in town, from the rumba and the cueca in Urbana-Champaign to Oswego, and he was an active writer contributing multiple editorials for the Daily Illini too. On Chile’s Independence Day, in 1947, Mr. Pimstein had published a editorial which outlined the similarities between Chilean and U.S. independence movements. By October 1947, he had pledged with Alpha Sigma Phi and he was initiated in March. In March 1950, Mr. Pimstein had submitted an essay on porcelain enamels for a national essay contest of the American Ceramic Society. Finally, in September 1950, Mr. Pimstein had written another editorial to increase campus awareness of the significance of the Chilean Independence Day.

Ms. Virginia Chamy, (B.A. Latin American Studies, 1960). In 1959, she pledged to Alpha Lambda Delta. For the 1959 International Week, Ms. Chamy danced the cueca with graduate student Rafael Moreno. The following year, Ms. Chamy was a member of the 1960 International Fair committee.

Mr. Luis Albento Chamy, (B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1964), of Coya, was another Chilean Illini and student leader too. In 1960, Mr. Chamy pledged for Phi Kappa Theta. In 1961, Mr. Chamy was elected vice president of the Latin American Student Association. The following year, he was president of the association of international students too.

Of course, there have been many graduate students too, including Marina Briones, (M.A. Romance Languages, 1929), Graciela Andrade, (M.A. Education, 1949), Raquel Berta Sussman, (PhD Bacteriology, 1952), Raquel Andrade, (M.A. Spanish, 1952), Raquel Bello-Valderrama, (M.A. English, 1954), Hans Walter Bergholz-Wissing, (M.S. Civil Engineering, 1959), Rafael Moreno Rojas, (M.S. Agricultural Economics, 1960), Carmen Gloria Salvo (M.S. Pharmacology, 1960), Carlos Gigoux, (M.S. Oral Pathology, 1962), Jaime Eyzaguirre Philippi, (PhD Chemistry, 1963), Otto Ralf Weinert, (M.S. Chemistry, 1964), Carlos Vender-Droguett, (M.S. Agricultural Economics, 1964), Jorge Ossandon (M.S. Physics, 1967), Alejandro Echeverria Gomez, (M.S. Civil Engineering, 1962; PhD Civil Engineering, 1969), Angela Bustos Kleiman, (M.A. Teaching of English as a Second Language, 1969), Carmen Mireya Virgilio Caballero, (M.A. Teaching of English, 1970),

Although documentation of Chilean Illini after the 1960s is limited, student enrollment figures document that Chilean Illini enrollment has continued since the 1970s and hopefully for longer too.

Are you a Chilean Illini? Do you know someone who is? We’d like to hear from you! Please send us a message or leave a comment below. We want to include you and your story, as we celebrate the first 150 years of the University of Illinois.

Happy First 150 everyone!


[] As always, a special thank you to all students and staff whose tireless work for student life and publications (many of which are available at the University Archives) help preserve the memories of Illini everywhere.

[1] Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, August 15, 1919, page 513, Record Series 1/1/802.

[2] June 11, 1929, page 248; July 23, 1930, page 27.

[3] July 25, 1956, page 40.

[4] “Walter John Kanne”, The Semi-Centennial Alumni Record of the University of Illinois, Edited by Franklin W. Scott, page 254.

[5] “Mary Butters McLellan (Snushall)”, page 257.

[6] “Royal Elmer Post”, page 261.

[7] “Clara Mabel Brooks (Bennitt)”, page 448.

[8] “Ralph Anderson Bennitt”, page 483.

[9] “Morris Louis Becker”, page 483.

[10] “Chester Andrus Vincent”, page 515.

[11] “Leo Morelle Chesrown”, page 526.

[12] “Charles Morse Huffer”, page 779.

[13] “Manuel L. Lopez”, page 787.

[14] “Newman Romero”, page 732.

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