The idea for IMSA first came out of a curriculum design workshop held in 1982 at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, proposed by then Fermilab Director Dr. Leon Lederman, later a Nobel Laureate. Along with then-Illinois Governor Jim Thompson, he led efforts to create IMSA, and in 1985, IMSA was established by the Illinois General Assembly to “offer a uniquely challenging education for students talented in the areas of mathematics and science” and “serve the school system of the State as a catalyst and laboratory for the advancement of teaching.”

That same year, IMSA’s Founding Board of Trustees was appointed and included (pictured) Sheila MB Griffin, John McEachern, Jr., Jesus Manuel “Manny” Sosa and James D. Pearson (elected first Chairman).

In 1986, IMSA opened its doors under the leadership of Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall, IMSA’s Founding President. Three years later, the Charter Class of 1989 graduated and “Founding Father” Dr. Leon Lederman presented the commencement address.

These founders reunited to help commemorate IMSA’s 25th Anniversary Year.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has …. Margaret Mead


Browse the Founders Collections:

Dr. Leon Lederman

Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall

Governor James R. Thompson