The beginning of May always brings a welcome energy to our community. There is the anticipation and the excitement of change permeating our campus. This is an invigorating time for all of us here at Illinois. It’s a time for seizing opportunities, for the planning futures and for taking new chances. It’s also a time for celebrating.
To our students graduating on this weekend, I want to thank you. Teaching and learning has always been our purpose, and our students are the very heartbeat of the campus. You’ve made us a better university with your enthusiasm, ideas and questions. You, our graduates are our best ambassadors and our greatest contribution to the world. You continue to surprise and inspire me every year. You’ve worked hard to meet our highest expectations and I cannot wait to see what you do next.
For our students who will be returning, I hope you will make the most of your summer break. One purpose of the summer term is to expand your minds and use what you’ve learned over the past year to shape your perspectives for the next. Creativity and innovation stem from new ideas. And the beginnings of new ideas come from new experiences. I hope you will use the summer to try new things and find your next inspirations. Here on campus, we promise to do the same.
This is also a time of scholarship and renewal or additional teaching opportunities for our faculty. Many will be pursuing new aspects of your professional and personal endeavors. We know for many of you, this is an important time which allows you to embark on distinct opportunities that require unbroken time. This may be the start of something new or the culmination of a project that you have been working on for a long time. In all cases, we wish you a productive and enjoyable summer.
I knew this would be a special year even from the very beginning when we, along with the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, set a new Guinness World Record by registering 2,262 organ donors during Quad Day. This event, while immensely inspiring even in itself, once again showed the world that the Illinois experience is more than classrooms or research – it is about inspiring change through action and commitment. And just a few weeks ago, as we wind up our year – we saw this spirit again in our inaugural Annual Day of Service when you came together to provide more than 81,000 meals to local people facing food insecurity. What a group effort both of these events were – and we have called out only two events that demonstrate the partnership we have with the community around us.
This year also celebrated several other milestones – the 150 anniversaries of the Morrill Act and of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the invention of the visible LED, and the official start of the Blue Waters supercomputer just to name a few. We also celebrated as two of our professors were elected to the National Academy of Engineering, three faculty members elected to the National Academy of Sciences, two faculty members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and one faculty elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. In addition to these, we applauded as two of our students were awarded Barry M. Goldwater scholarships, with an additional two students given honorable mentions in the national competition.
We’ve truly had an amazing year. And making up the fibers of our story, there were thousands of milestones among our students and faculty that won’t make a headline, nor draw a crowd. Instead they will make a life richer or a community stronger and a world better. And that is how we at Illinois have measured our success since 1867 – through the accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff.
Thank you to everyone for a wonderful year of accomplishment and achievement. I hope you are proud of your contributions to Illinois. Because I assure you that this university is very proud of you.
Around the Campus
We have had a couple of weeks of great news regarding our faculty and alumni recognized with prestigious awards - with recognition coming from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the Doris Duke Foundation and the Royal Society of London. This is truly a fantastic series of exclamation points on our year. Congratulations to all.
Tere O'Connor (Dance) has received a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award - one of just 20 artists across the nation honored this year. These awards are part of a ten-year program to support outstanding individual artists in contemporary dance, theatre, jazz and related work. Read more about Professor O'Connor's Doris Duke Award here...
Professor Fred Hoxie (History) and alumnus Thomas Siebel (B.A. History; MBA; M.S. Computer Science; Honorary Ph.D., Engineering) have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Read about this year's American Academy inductees here...
Eduardo Fradkin (Physics), Martin Gruebele (Chemistry) and Sharon Hammes-Schiffer (Chemistry) have all been elected as fellows in the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Sciences was founded in 1863 and members are chosen based on their outstanding contributions to the fields of science and technology. You can read more about these three new NAS members here...
Stephen Long (Crop Sciences and Plant Pathology) has been elected as a fellow in the Royal Society of London. The Royal Society is the world's oldest scientific academy in continuous existence and members are chosen by their peers based upon their contributions to science. Read more about Professor Long's selection here...