Chancellor Blog List
Chancellor Blog List
On Monday, October 13, at the invitation of the Academic Senate, President Easter and I had the chance to offer remarks to the campus faculty community. As usual, this annual event was a chance to talk about some of the great accomplishments of the past year, some exciting initiatives on the horizon and to address some of the challenges along the way. And also as usual, the questions and discussion following our remarks was spirited and gave those on the campus an open opportunity to offer opinions and responses to our comments. I know it is difficult to find a time and place for all to attend, so I am sharing a version of my comments on the blog this week. As those of you who have been in an audience where I speak will know, this is not an exact transcript of my words - but it is the text from which I spoke on Monday.
Welcome back. And for those of you who are joining us for the first time, welcome to Illinois!
As you may be aware, Vice President Christophe Pierre and I wrote to Prof. Steven Salaita on Aug. 1, informing him of the university’s decision not to recommend further action by the Board of Trustees concerning his potential appointment to the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In 1914, with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act, Congress established a new partnership that would combine the resources of the Department of Agriculture with top land-grant universities to create a new educational and research network for the country. In our state, we were that university.
As part of our effort to make information about internal research seed funds more accessible, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research has recently created a new campus funding webpage. Our hope is that bringing these resources together in one place and publicizing the opportunities for pilot funding will encourage faculty members to investigate the diverse funding opportunities we have at Illinois.
The 70th anniversary of D-Day deservedly has been a center of attention this month. This commemoration of the Allied invasion at Normandy that began on June 6, 1944, marked a turning point in World War II and has served as a reminder of how much can depend on a single moment in time. Sunday, June 22, marked another 70th anniversary from that same war. This one doesn’t memorialize a military operation, but instead celebrates how we honored those veterans who returned home.
In the summer months, many of our students and faculty members leave our campus to study, write, conduct research projects, vacation, work and rest. And even though these few months can seem rather quiet compared to the normal hustle and bustle of campus life, during this time we also have an enormous influx of visitors. And summer is a significant opportunity to introduce our guests to a wonderful Illinois experience.
As another semester draws to a close, I want to encourage each of us to spend some time in reflection. It is easy to push through the end of May, working fervently to be finished with all of the semester’s responsibilities. But this has been a truly wonderful year.
Last year, we announced an ambitious plan to hire 500 new faculty members at Illinois over the next five to seven years. In striving to make this goal, one of the challenges we have faced is that many people have the misconception that working in big cities always has better outcomes. I think this is untrue.
Last week was Undergraduate Research Week at Illinois, and I am so pleased that the seventh-annual Undergraduate Research Symposium featured more presentations, posters and performances than ever before. Enhancing and expanding undergraduate research opportunities is one of the initiatives outlined in the campus strategic plan and it is exciting to see our continued progress in reaching that goal.
It has been such an exciting and wonderful week to be part of the Illinois family. With the warmer temperatures, the campus has become so vibrant. And we’ve had many things to celebrate.
This week is a great opportunity to recognize one of our hardest working groups on campus. They make up more than a quarter of our student body and are essential to the success of the learning and discovery missions of Illinois. They work fervently to contribute so directly to our excellence. That group is our graduate students.
In celebration of National Volunteer week, Illinois will be holding our second annual Campus and Community Day of Service on Saturday, April 5. I hope all of you will join me in participating.
We are privileged to be part of a campus full of the smartest, hardest-working and friendliest faculty, students and staff in the world. Our energy and enthusiasm is a large part of why we enjoy such success and why the reputation of Illinois is known around the world. And many days and weeks in the year, I encourage the entire campus community, myself included, to charge ahead, to push boundaries and make an impact.
In the midst of a cold winter, it may seem ironic to discuss our sustainability efforts on campus. But it seemed like the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to see where we have gone and where we are going. In the quest to become a pre-eminent research university with a land-grant mission and global impact, integrating sustainable practices in our research, classes, and buildings - every facet of campus – is a necessity and has been identified as a priority by our students and faculty.
Following the events of this week that raised the need for a campus discussion on civil discourse and respectful debate, I was asked to submit an op-ed to Inside Higher Education. This piece ran today and I want to share it with the campus community here as well.
On a hot August day in 1963, a man stood up and spoke for about seventeen minutes. When he began, an estimated 250,000 participants of the “March on Washington” paused to listen as millions more tuned in by television and radio. When he finished, Martin Luther King Jr. had established his own place among great American leaders.
As our semester draws rapidly to a close and we head into these final hectic days of the year, I hope you take a few moments to celebrate all we have accomplished together so far.
The past week has been a blur of time zones and languages – from New York to the annual Silicon Valley Roundtable and then to China with stops in Hong Kong, Shanghai and finally, in Beijing. And once again, with each landing, the global presence of Illinois – both in terms of our alumni and our reputation – was proudly and clearly displayed. And I’m excited that we took another great step forward in our international reach with the official opening of the Illinois China office on Monday, December 9, in Shanghai.
As we all know, in mid-October a short-term budget agreement was made in order to re-open the federal government and lift the debt ceiling. As part of the deal, Congress established a committee to reconcile the vast differences between the House and Senate budgets. The committee has until December 13 to submit an agreed-upon budget resolution for the next fiscal year. Without action, a new round of across-the-board spending cuts will occur in January.
It’s easy to think of the difference in numbers as federal, impersonal facts. But these decisions have an impact on all of our lives, not only because of the Illinois impact, but the impact on the entire global economy.
Last Thursday was the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, and I am proud that this year we celebrated the day at Illinois for the first time. We hope that it was an encouragement to quit for smokers in the Illinois family.
At Illinois, we had the chance to celebrate Veterans Day a bit early at the groundbreaking for the Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education on Friday. I’m so proud of our campus commitment to supporting our veterans as they pursue their education. And we all look forward to the impact on campus and beyond of the programs and services that will be available when the doors open.
The center is an extension of the importance Illinois places on the men and women in our family who have served in the United States military. They make up such a rich part of our history and our campus has proudly recognized them in monument and in word.
Homecoming is always an exciting time of the year. This year it was chilly enough to pile on layers of orange and blue for the football game and droves of fans and alumni filled our campus. It’s always been a time filled with pride, nostalgia and good stories. Unfortunately as every visitor to campus knows, one of our most-recognized family members wasn’t able to join the festivities – Alma Mater.
This past weekend, I was humbled and honored to be officially inducted as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at a ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And I am proud to say that this year’s class saw Illinois well-represented. Fred Hoxie, Swanlund Professor of History, and alumnus Tom Siebel were both inducted as well. It is reassuring to be among friends at these sorts of events.
I had the additional honor of being asked to speak on behalf of those inducted in my section this year – in Public Affairs, Business, and Administration. I realize that this particular honor was as much out of respect for the chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as it was for my personal achievement. I am sharing the text of those remarks and I hope they represented this university well.
I was recently approached by LinkedIn about joining their Influencers Program. My first inclination was to politely decline the invitation. With several hundred (at the time) individuals ranging from President Obama to Meg Whitman to Maria Shriver offering their opinions, expertise and advice around professional and personal advancement, I wasn’t sure what I might add to the discussions. However, as I looked more closely at the spectrum of Influencers and their posts, I noticed the distinct absence of leaders in higher education among the group.