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University of Illinois remembers alumnus Hugh Hefner

Hugh Hefner in 1949 Illio Yearbook.

Hugh Hefner wasn’t your average student at the University of Illinois. He completed his degree in about two and a half years and his empire all started with him drawing cartoons for the Daily Illini.

"He pioneered fantastic journalism,” Daily Illini Editor-in-Chief Lillian Barkley said. “He was great with short stories. He gave a lot of writers first chances, which for building up a publication from the ground is really impressive."

Hefner was part of the psychology honor society, Psi Chi, and also worked for the Shaft, campus humor magazine.

Student journalists "the empire" he went on to build was without a doubt controversial but at the same time groundbreaking.

"There are a lot of things as a female journalist that don't necessarily endear me to him,” Barkley said. “But as a civil rights activist, he did a lot. He interviewed both conservative and more liberal activists during the civil rights movement. He pioneered that in interviews in Playboy."

He even sued the postal service and won when they refused to deliver his magazines.

Students outside of the journalism school say they're proud to share the orange and blue with Hefner.

"Success is success, no matter how you get it,” University of Illinois freshman Sophie Leskis said. “As long as you're getting work in the real world, however you obtain that is pretty cool."

"He did push a lot of boundaries,” University of Illinois junior Dylon Casey said. “But at the end of the day he created something, was very successful, so I think that's pretty cool."

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