The first stop on my Listening and Learning Tour was at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where I had a discussion with a group of LAS faculty members. I want to thank them for taking the time to meet with me and I thank Dean Ruth Watkins for all her help in organizing this meeting. I opened the conversation with these questions: What are our strengths? What made you come to the university and what makes you stay? What should we aspire to be in the next 20 years? What are the challenges we face?
The discussion was wonderfully direct, honest, and insightful. I look forward to many more opportunities like this to listen to and learn from you.
Among the challenges they shared:
• Budgets and revenue sources
• Lack of structure and incentives for interdisciplinary education programs
• Conveying the value of humanities research
• A “revolving door of administrators”
• Retention of underrepresented faculty
Among the strengths:
• World-class library
• Breadth and depth of programs
• Interdisciplinary research opportunities
• Quality of faculty
• Our reputation as a top ranked public research university
• Opportunities for innovation
In the next month I plan to meet with as many colleges, as well as students, staff and external stakeholders as possible with a focus on learning about our untapped potential and how we can position ourselves for the future. The Listening and Learning Tour will culminate in a Town Hall Meeting on Dec. 6 at 4:00 p.m. in the Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts to talk with you about what I have heard during the many meetings that we will have over the next several weeks. More details on that meeting will be forthcoming.
Please note the “Listening and Learning Input Box” on this page. Please use this to give me feedback. I do want to hear from you. What makes you proud to be here? What do you think the campus does well? What do you think the campus needs to do better?
AROUND THE CAMPUS: Bob Easter will continue his distinguished service at this campus as Interim Vice Chancellor for Research beginning in January. Dr. Easter replaces Dr. Ravi Iyer, who will return to the faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Coordinated Science Laboratory…On November 2, I will participate in the second annual Sustainability Week when I join campus community members in a Quad Walk. The walk begins at 4 p.m. outside the south entrance of the Illini Union. See you there!
Until next week,