Interview with Troy Thiel, Class of 1987 and 1990


Troy Thiel



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Oral history interview with Illinois State University alum Troy Thiel, Class of 1987 and 1990. The interview was conducted via Zoom videoconferencing software on April 19, 2021 by Cyrus Rhodes, then a member of the ISU Student Alumni Council.

Thiel reflects on his deep connection to the ISU and the university lab schools, having grown up on and around campus due to his father's involvement with the Vidette student newspaper. He reminisces about the vibrant atmosphere of campus life, which included attending sporting events, live music performances, and cultural activities. Thiel also shares insights into the university's administration, highlighting the leadership of Presidents Lloyd Watkins and John Wallace, and their efforts to elevate Illinois State University's academic standing. Thiel mentions several professors and administrative officials in the political science and economics departments who left a lasting impression on him. He emphasizes the impact that extracurricular activities, such as intramural sports, music events, and student government, made on his ISU experience. Thiel also discusses the range of campus services available to students, from health and counseling services to computing centers and recreational facilities. He paints a picture of campus fashion trends, noting the influence of '80s styles and the casual yet diverse attire of students. Thiel fondly remembers campus events such as lectures by national political speakers, concerts, and the annual Bloomington Gold Corvette show.

Thiel reminisces about his time as a student janitor at the Bone Student Center and recalls encountering the boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. He discusses the prevalence of drinking on campus and the impact of the 1984 Beer Riot. Thiel reflects on changes to the campus boundaries and the evolution of campus facilities over the years. He fondly remembers various campus buildings and their functions, including the Bone Student Center, University Farm, and the Alumni Center. Thiel shares humorous anecdotes about interactions with celebrities such as Julie Andrews and Diana Ross during his time working as a stagehand. He also highlights his involvement in student government and the Academic Senate as a valuable learning experience in public policy. Thiel concludes the interview by recounting a special moment where he had the privilege of dining with three historic university presidents.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; growing up in the ISU community: 00:00-01:40
  • Presidents Wallace and Watkins; involvement in student government: 01:40-04:19
  • Notable faculty and administrators: 04:19-06:05
  • Comparative difficulty of completing a college education: 06:05-09:43
  • Extracurricular activities: 09:43-11:06
  • Student services: 11:06-12:43
  • Prices for common goods; tuition costs: 12:43-14:49
  • Typical mode of dress: 14:49-16:29
  • Local and national news; Bloomington Gold Corvette Show: 16:29-19:51
  • Entertainment: 20:01-21:16
  • Bloomington-Normal: 21:16-22:54
  • Alcohol and tobacco use; encounter with Sugar Ray Leonard: 22:54-26:25
  • Favorite and least favorite aspects of ISU: 26:25-27:50
  • Campus buildings and boundaries: 27:50-32:12
  • Encounters with celebrities; dining with past university presidents; conclusion: 32:12-36:32

Interview with Troy Thiel, Class of 1987 and 1990