Chancellor Newsletter 5/30/2014

Dear friends and supporters of UIC: 

Now that our academic year has drawn to a close, the moment is right to review what makes UIC such an outstanding institution and to share with you some highlights of our achievements.

Commencement Ceremonies


I’m happy to report UIC graduated 7,552 students in May, including nearly 4,000 undergraduates, 2,719 graduate students, and 772 professional students.

Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, journalist Joy Reid and former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar were among the keynote speakers at college commencements and convocations.

We bestowed two honorary degrees this year:  to Ertharin Cousin, UIC alumna and Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme—who delivered the keynote address to our LAS graduates—and Harvard University Professor Shing-Tung Yau, a foremost mathematician in the field of differential geometry.

Rise in UIC Rankings

UIC rankings

I’m very proud to report that our rankings continue to rise, reflecting the intellectual vibrancy of our community.

The Times Higher Education‘s “100 Under 50” list ranked UIC in 13th place worldwide, six spots up from 2013. Only eight U.S. universities are included on this list of 100 institutions under 50 years old, and UIC ranks third among these U.S. universities.

Our online undergraduate program in Nursing was ranked 9th nationally by U.S. News and World Report.  And UIC’s Online Master of Health Informatics program, based in our College of Applied Health Sciences, stands in 2nd place among all national programs.

New Facilities

Planning and construction of the first new buildings on campus since the completion of the UIC Forum began this year. 

The Advanced Chemical Technology Building

Advanced Chemical Technology Building

The Advanced Chemical Technology Building (ACTB) is currently in the design phase, and construction is expected to begin in Spring 2015. The ACTB will house select faculty from chemistry, biology, and physics, to support cutting-edge interdisciplinary research focused on topics from environmental science to immunology.




Granderson Baseball Stadium

Granderson Baseball Stadium

We broke ground last September on the Curtis Granderson Baseball Stadium, and on April 17th we opened the gates. UIC now has a new ballpark made possible by UIC alumnus and New York Mets player Curtis Granderson.  The goal for this stadium, in addition to providing a top-tier facility for the Flames, is to host youth baseball in Chicago, in the hope that playing baseball on the UIC campus will spark players’ interest in completing high school and seeking a college education.



Mile Square Health Center

Mile Square Health Center

UI Health’s newest Mile Square Health Center was officially opened in January.  The five-story, state-of-the-art facility is the first federally qualified health center in Chicago to offer both urgent care and a full array of specialty medical services.  It is expected to serve many newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act.

Renovations are continuing in the College of Medicine, where a project to update lecture halls and classroooms is underway and expected to be completed this year.


Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, High Performance Computer Cluster

High Performance Computer Cluster

It was my pleasure to attend the opening of the new High Performance Computing Cluster in February.  The $2.4 million facility has 3,000 processors and 1 petabyte (a quadrillion bytes) of disk storage.  This facility significantly expands UIC’s research computing capabilities in informatics and “big data.”


Chancellor’s Lecture and Event Series

This series, which just completed its 5th year, is designed to feature cultural performances, lectures, and presentations on the pertinent issues of our times.

  • Ertharin Cousin
    Ertharin Cousin
    Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme and a UIC alumna, visited UIC to discuss "Delivering Food Assistance in a Shrinking Humanitarian Space."

  • Bruce Katz
    Bruce Katz
    Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution spoke about regional governance and development.

  • Orchestra Filarmonica de Puerto Rico
    Orchestra Filarmonica
    de Puerto Rico
    In partnership with the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, we presented the Orchestra Filarmonica de Puerto Rico as part of the annual Cuatro Festival.

  • Marc Mellits
    Marc Mellits
    A concert in March featuring Marc Mellits,
    Assistant Professor in the Department of Music, showcased the musical composition I commissioned to celebrate the reorganized UIC School of Theatre & Music.

  • Reverend Jesse Jackson
    Reverend Jesse Jackson
    The Rev. Jesse Jackson reflected on his long and esteemed career and discussed the state of social justice movements today.

  • Jose Lopez, Congressman Gutierrez, Paula Allen-Meares and Hugo Teruel.
    L-R: Jose Lopez, Congressman
    Gutierrez, Paula Allen-Meares
    and Hugo Teruel.
    Eleven-term Congressman Luis Gutierrez read from and discussed his memoir, Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill.

  • Scott Dikkers
    Scott Dikkers
    Scott Dikkers, Founding Editor of The Onion and Current VP of Creative Development, talked with students, faculty, and staff on the topic of “Leadership and Creative Risk.”





Faculty Accomplishments

Edgar Barens
Edgar Barens

Edgar Barens is a media specialist in the Jane Addams College of Social Work’s Center for Social Policy and Research. His film, “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall,” was nominated for a 2014 Academy Award. The film documents the final days of an inmate serving a life sentence for murder and the hospice volunteer inmates who care for him. Barens attended this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, and HBO aired the film in March, where it was viewed by as many as 28 million people.

A UIC sculptor and a filmmaker/photographer are among 103 artists selected nationally to exhibit in the 77th Whitney Biennial, the signature exhibition of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

  • Tony Tasset
    Tony Tasset
    Tony Tasset, Professor of Art, is known for monumental works, including the three-story "Eyeball" installed in downtown Chicago in 2010, and a 94-foot-high rainbow mounted over Culver City, California.

  • Doug Ischar
    Doug Ischar
    Doug Ischar, Associate Professor of Art, is a well-known series photographer who has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Museo de Arte Moderna in São Paulo, and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.

I’m delighted to showcase two UIC Researchers of the Year:

  • Aria Razfar
    Aria Razfar
    Aria Razfar, Associate Professor for Curriculum and Instruction, has received grants totaling $3 million over the last three years from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education to advance language, math and science education, particularly for English learners. His latest book, Applying Linguistics in the Classroom, presents case studies to engage educators on the topic of language.

  • Anne George
    Anne George
    Anne George, Professor of Oral Biology and Allan G. Brodie endowed professor in the College of Dentistry, is doing research that could one day bring a new way of filling dental cavities. Dr. George is studying how proteins can regenerate dentin, a calcified tissue of the body that is one of the four major components of teeth.

  • Vladimir Gevorgyan
    Vladimir Gevorgyan
    Vladimir Gevorgyan Professor of Chemistry, will lead the U.S. effort in a three-nation project to develop efficient catalytic methods that replace rare metals with more inexpensive ones, like iron and copper. The project, a collaboration between scientists in the U.S., Germany and China, comes out of a competition sponsored by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists. Only seven grants were awarded worldwide.

Student Accomplishments

I am proud to report on some of our latest student accomplishments.

Critical Language Awards

Neharika Akkor
Neharika Akkor

Supported by the U.S. State Department’s Critical Languages Scholarship, two of our students will spend this summer in India and Oman, engaged in intensive foreign language studies.

Bridget Hansen
Bridget Hansen

The competitive award will place Neharika Akkoor and Bridget Hansen in a fully funded 10-week language and cultural enrichment program in each country.



Student Research Forum

About 250 students from all disciplines presented their work to judges and to the campus community at the 2014 UIC Student Research Forum in April.

The Student Research Forum is a student-run activity, academic in focus and open to graduate, undergraduate and professional students.

Undergraduate winners came from a wide range of departments, including Germanic studies, marketing, the life sciences and psychology.

This year featured a sustainability competition, won by students in anthropology and architecture, and a new category from the Center on Gender and Women Studies, with winning projects from students in bioengineering and psychology.

UIC Emerging as a Hispanic Serving Institution

UIC is moving toward becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution.  I created a UIC Hispanic Serving Institution Task Force, co-chaired by Tyrone A. Forman, Vice Provost for Diversity and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor, and Aixa Alfonso, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences.  This is an exciting development and illustrates our ongoing commitment to a diverse campus community that reflects the great city in which we reside.  

UIC Urban Forum

L-R Paula Allen-Meares, Mike Pagano, Toni Preckwinkle
L-R Paula Allen-Meares,
Mike Pagano, Toni Preckwinkle

This past December UIC held its annual Urban Forum, titled “Technology and the Resilience of Metropolitan Regions.”  The forum explored how technology increasingly drives government and citizenship, health care, workforce development, and metropolitan growth. We were honored to have Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle co-chair the event and provide the keynote.




Campus Insights

Campus Insights

This January we were pleased to showcase UIC’s achievements to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, donors, elected officials, and friends of our campus.  In a fast-paced presentation by standout faculty, alumni, and students—called “UIC: Making a Transformative Impact”—five remarkable individuals told their stories through artful imagery and narration.


Obama Presidential Library

Obama Presidential Library

Last fall, I appointed an exploratory committee to facilitate UIC’s bid for the Obama Presidential Library. We are preparing a response to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from the Barack H. Obama Foundation. The Foundation expects to select a site in early 2015.




Personal note

These developments and accomplishments have now become part of our shared experience at UIC and the history we’ve witnessed together. I hope that you are as proud of UIC as I am.

To our graduates, I extended my very best wishes for the future.

We look forward to their continuing participation in the life of UIC. We hope they will return to campus often and share their achievements with us. We will always be honored to call them UIC alumni, and, as our ambassadors, they are UIC’s true legacy.

To you, our friends and supporters, thank you for all you do to keep our community vibrant and assure our continued success.

Paula Allen-Meares
John Corbally Presidential Professor