Welcome back! And for those of you who are joining us for the first time, welcome to Illinois!
I always love the beginning of the year. I have found that it doesn’t matter what a person’s age – from a first time kindergartener to a returning university chancellor - the beginning of a new school year is always exciting. The start of the academic year brings so much promise. It’s a clean slate to set new goals, meet new people and learn new things.
This fall we are welcoming the freshman class of 2017. We are lucky to add such a gifted and diverse group of students to our community. Our students come from every state in the nation and more than 100 countries around the globe. This only adds to our excellence. It’s no stretch to say that our freshmen are among the world’s best and they are going to add new viewpoints and new energy to our campus.
And at the same time we also are welcoming hundreds of new faculty and staff to campus. I encourage all of us in the campus community to welcome our new family members with open arms. If you see someone who looks a bit lost, I hope you will offer to help them with directions. After all, we were all new once.
I spoke at Freshman Convocation on Friday and asked them to make the most of every opportunity in their time here – to take full advantage of every gift, every opportunity and every investment that has been provided by Illinois family members before them.
Though that idea was specifically directed at students brand new to campus, the wonderful thing about Illinois is that it’s a big place. There are always more things for all us to discover. And with an innovative, ever-evolving campus, even faculty members who may have been here for decades can still themselves wide-eyed in wonder year after year.
Making the most of every opportunity is not a unique idea. In fact, it’s nearly so clichéd that it beckons a rolling of the eyes from some people. But an unexpected opportunity can have a far-reaching, permanent impact. Some of our most successful research projects began with a serendipitous interaction by two researchers in different disciplines going to coffee, by a casual conversation on the bus, by a seemingly naïve question from a student, by meeting a fellow scholar at a community event. Big ideas and great discoveries can come from surprising places. And I can tell you that I find Illinois as full of surprises today as I did when I took this position two years ago.
From freshman students to senior professors, we will all have new opportunities this year. Let’s make the most of them.
If you haven’t seen it already, I also hope you will take a few minutes to watch our “Dream Big” welcome video.
With the start of the academic year, I'll be back to my regular schedule with the blog, updating it weekly with news of the issues we will be addressing this year and for news about great accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students.
Around the Campus
I'm proud to announce that Illinois has been named to The Princeton Review’s 2014 Green College Honor Roll. It marks Illinois’ first appearance on the list, which includes 22 schools that attained a perfect score of 99.
If you haven't done so already, don't forget to sign up for Illini-Alert, a service that sends emails and text messages to your phone in the event of a campus emergency.
Congratulations to University Housing for breaking a Guiness World Record by creating the world's largest serving of salsa. On August 23 they made 6,840 pounds of salsa that was served in the University dining halls during dinner the next evening.