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.
Though it has been some time since I was a graduate student at the University of Michigan, I remember my days well. Those years played a critical role in my career. To be sure, the work of a graduate student is rewarding. Unlike undergraduates, graduate students likely focus on specific areas of scholarship or teaching. Graduate school allows a person the opportunity to develop a deep expertise. And they have the chance to be mentored and to work directly with the world’s experts in their field.
The life of a graduate student can also be challenging. The work often feels behind the scenes. We set high expectations for them. We compete against some of the most prestigious universities in the world to attract the very best to Illinois. And they are shaping what Illinois becomes. Without them, it is a simple fact that we cannot be a pre-eminent public research university with a land-grant mission and a global impact in the 21st century.
Our cutting-edge research and much of our teaching are supported by graduate students. Name any prominent researcher in any field at Illinois, and you can be sure they have a few graduate students supporting any major project. Though their names may not appear in every news release, we know that they have contributed an enormous service to Illinois. It is unimaginable how we would fufill our teaching mission without graduate students.
Our graduate students are the world’s next generation of experts, scholars, creators, discoverers. Illinois was charged with a mission of being a beacon of knowledge to our community, state, nation and world. The research and work of our graduate students is already changing the world. And when they eventually leave Illinois for the worlds of service, government, business, finance, arts or others, they will be a wonderful advocate and ambassador of Illinois excellence.
So I hope that the campus community will join me during this Graduate Student Appreciation Week by taking a moment to thank our graduate students for all that they contribute. The Graduate College is coordinating activities throughout the week for our graduate students and their families, and I invite you all to participate.
Around the Campus
Please join Illinois Provost Ilesanmi Adesida and I at our annual town hall meeting on Wednesday, April 9 at noon in the Illini Union Ballroom. We will discuss this year’s progress involving some of the initiatives outlined in the campus Strategic Plan and also talk about critical goals for the coming year and current budget and pension challenges.
This week is Inclusive Illinois Week. Partner with the campus in celebrating inclusivity by attending events throughout the week. For a full list of events, visit the Inclusive Illinois website.
Congratulations to the six Illinois professionals who will be honored with 2014 Chancellor's Academic Professional Excellence awards on April 8. The winners are: Christa Deacy-Quinn, Spurlock Museum; Frank Ireland, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Hannes E. Leetaru, Illinois State Geological Survey; Carla McCown-Alston, Counseling Center; Scott Morris, School of Earth, Society and the Environment; Matthew Rosenstein, International Studies and Programs. Read the full story here.