Provost Adesida and I thank all of you who joined us in the Beckman Institute (or watched the live stream) Monday for our Town Hall meeting to discuss the emerging vision and strategic plan for the campus. We know the large turnout meant a number of you were watching from an overflow room or from seats in the aisles. We appreciate your presence and your clear interest and engagement in the future direction of this campus. If only one message is taken from this event, we both hope that it is this:
We are committed to forging a shared vision for Illinois that is driven and shaped by you, the community of faculty, students and staff who comprise this institution. Your continuing dedication and involvement are essential if we are to fulfill that vision and to build the capacity to solve some of the grand societal challenges of our time.
Both of us have worked closely with you as we have envisioned the future, as we have charted our ambitious plans, and as we begin the initial steps in executing them. With our first academic year working together coming quickly to a close, we wanted an opportunity for everyone in the campus community to hear and see how your advice, your guidance and your engagement in our planning process this year is being put into visible and strategic action. You have advised us on where to focus efforts to position us to be the pre-eminent public research university that we must be to serve our students, the community, the state, the nation, and the planet.
There is a full transcript of our comments and a link to the slides we used here on the Visioning Future Excellence web site. The archived video (with the audience discussion following the talk) is also posted here. If you weren’t able to watch or attend, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to browse these pages and learn about the current highlights of our strategic plan and about some of the strategic actions already under way along with those we intend to begin very shortly. We all understand that plans are only useful if they can translate into measurable action. Part of our intent in this presentation was to demonstrate that we intend to move decisively and quickly when we have opportunities that can take us forward as a university.
Just a few examples of actions we announced or outlined include:
- We intend to recruit 500 new faculty members in the coming 5-7 years to rebuild and reinforce our tenure-line faculty. These positions will be across disciplines in strategic areas and in cluster hires around some of the Visioning Future Excellence themes.
- We will invest $70 million in classroom renovations over the next 5 or 6 years. If we expect to offer 21st learning experiences, we cannot put our students in faculty in classrooms of the 1940s and 1950s.
- We announced that individual funding for the Humanities and Arts Scholar Support Programs (HASS) will be increased by 50% this fall.
- We’re integrating campus-level resources for teaching support, that until now have been spread across units, into a single home. The center will be in place this fall.
- We have two new virtual centers to promote interdisciplinary research in the organizing phase with a third in the planning stages.
- A new campus-wide ICR policy approved by our deans has been established and we will begin the first stages of implementation this fall.
There were more actions, both in progress and to be undertaken quickly. And these are just the first examples in motion. As we told the audience Monday: Be ready.
We are going to position ourselves now to lead the way in finding solutions to the grand challenges of this century. We are going to move fast. But, we are going to move strategically and we are going to move in ways that are consistent with our values, our culture and our traditions.
Working together, with your engagement, your critical questions and your enthusiasm and expertise, we are going to be the model of the pre-eminent public research university with a land-grant mission and global impact.
We have the opportunity, actually, the responsibility to set that course right now.
And both of us are certainly excited to be part of that journey with the Illinois family.
Phyllis and Ade
Around the Campus
Congratulations to the eight recipients of the 2013 Chancellor's Distinguished Staff Awards presented this week. These awards recognize civil service staff for exceptional service and dedication. Honored this year were: Melissa D. Banks (Statistics); Danial Branson (Animal Resources); Joan M. Fiesta (UI Police); Gregory S. Harman (Graduate College); Kenneth W. Hill (Facilities & Services); Laura A. Ketchum (Ed. Policy, Organization & Leadership); Thalia M. Sutton (Facilities and Services); and Donna J. Zimmerman (LAS). You can read full profiles of these outstanding members of our community here.
Congratulations to wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden (senior, ACES), who followed her gold medal performance in last week's Boston Marathon with another in the London Marathon. You can read more here about her thoughts on both races and her plans to return to Boston to the victims of the marathon bombing.