Chancellor Message 1/27/10

Message to Campus
RE new and important discoveries and events

Dear Colleagues,

This email, as all my previous emails to the campus, is intended to remind everyone, particularly during these difficult times, that every day on campus there are new and important discoveries and events. I hope to convey that we are all together determined to continue the excellent education and experiences we’ve come to expect from UIC.

Budget Situation

I know the university’s budget crisis, which is almost without precedent in its scope and severity, is of great concern to us all, and that is where I will begin. The financial crisis was the focus of much of last week’s Board of Trustees meeting, on January 21; Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Walter Knorr reported that the state is $446 million behind in payments to the University of Illinois (including UIC) for this fiscal year, up $10 million since December 31. The next day, January 22, President Ikenberry met with our Senate Executive Committee to discuss the financial situation. Along with the presidents and chancellors of other public universities in Illinois, I am working on a letter to the Governor and other top government officials discussing the gravity of the budget crisis and the need for renewed state funding to ensure the vitality of public higher education. Members of the university community have been writing letters to the editors of newspapers advocating for our cause. Leading up to the Board of Trustees meeting I sent an official email to our students on January 19, informing them of the current budget situation, and Vice Chancellor Barbara Henley convened a meeting of student leaders on January 20 to apprise them of the same.

I have been meeting with members of the university community to discuss the financial crisis and field questions. I encourage you to check the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the www.uillinois.edu site for updates about the furlough and voluntary pay reduction programs and other cash-conservation measures. Presentations on the university’s financial situation and cost-containment efforts can be found online.

College Affordability

On February 26, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, in partnership with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission and the Illinois Community College Board, will hold a summit at UIC to undertake a study of college affordability and funding. This study is in response to House Joint Resolution 54 sponsored by Representative Cynthia Soto and Senator Edward Maloney. The findings of this study will be presented to the Illinois General Assembly.

Chancellor’s Discovery Fund

In July 2009, I announced the Discovery Fund for Multidisciplinary Pilot Research Projects, a pilot grant program intended to support up to five new multidisciplinary collaborations led by emerging researchers at UIC. The goal is to foster academic inquiry that draws upon the expertise of varied disciplines, to nurture the research career trajectories of promising early-stage investigators, and to help awardees leverage extramural funding. I am delighted to announce and congratulate the first recipients of the $40,000 grants:

  • Jeffrey Bishop, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, and Stewart Shankman, assistant professor of psychology, for “Genetic and electrophysiological biomarkers for depression and anxiety: A multidisciplinary investigation.”
  • David Eddington, assistant professor of bioengineering, and Bradley Merrill, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, for “Understanding and manipulating forces that control embryonic stem cells.”
  • Ana Bedran-Russo, assistant professor of restorative dentistry, Carmen Lilley, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and Karen Troy, assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition, for “A fundamental study of nanoscale material properties of dental composite-tooth interfaces.”
  • Shane Phillips, assistant professor of physical therapy, and Kristina Varady, assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition, for “Role of adipose issue in mediating cardioprotective effects of alternate day fasting.”
  • Heather Prendergast, associate professor of emergency medicine, and Jennifer Rowland, assistant professor of disability and human development, for “Active video game exercise to improve balance and reduce falls in community-dwelling older adults.”

Chancellor’s Supplemental Graduate Research Fellowship Program

The Chancellor’s Supplemental Graduate Fellowship Program supports increased multidisciplinary scholarship opportunities and exposure to careers in research and creative fields for graduate and professional students. To date there have been 20 awards to students whose interests cover a wide variety of our academic endeavors. Awards went towards students in the Behavioral Sciences (7), to Engineering students (7), to students in the Fine Arts and Humanities (3), and students in the Life Sciences (3).

Research

A team of UIC researchers received a three-year, $4.1 million federal grant to establish a project to improve early language and literacy skills among urban preschool children. The U.S. Department of Education grant will fund a partnership formed between UIC, five Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools and their eight full-day preschool classrooms to create early childhood education centers of excellence. Jeffri Brookfield, visiting research and program development specialist in the College of Education’s Center for Literacy, is the project's principal investigator. Co-investigators include William Teale, professor of curriculum and instruction, and Maureen Meehan, director of community literacy programs.

Faculty Achievements

Chemistry professor Michael Trenary and computer science professor Ouri Wolfson are among the 531 new fellows named recently by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Aida Giachello, associate professor in the Jane Addams College of Social Work, is one of 10 recipients of the 2010 Inspire Award from AARP, The Magazine. The annual award pays tribute to outstanding individuals who focus their energy, creativity and passion to improve the condition of people’s lives.

Stephen Campbell, professor and head of restorative dentistry, has been named Educator of the Year by the American College of Prosthodontists.

Student Outreach

UIC and Western Illinois University have entered into an agreement guaranteeing admission of WIU students into the UIC College of Pharmacy. The agreement allows up to five Western students each year to transfer to UIC (Chicago or Rockford) to obtain a doctorate of pharmacy. Western Illinois students earning a bachelor's degree from WIU within five years who have compiled a 3.5 or higher grade point average are eligible to transfer into UIC's pharmacy curriculum. UIC entered into a similar agreement with Northern Illinois University earlier this year.

Sustainability

I was very pleased and proud to participate in the reopening of Lincoln Hall in November. The 1960s-era classroom building has been transformed into a contemporary “green” building, complete with energy-efficient glass walls, geothermal climate controls, and other eco-friendly improvements. Heating and cooling costs for the renovated buildings are reduced by the use of geothermal wells that act as heat pumps. The building's 25 common-use classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, new acoustic treatments for better sound, ergonomic and movable furniture, and informal learning spaces called oases. UIC applied to the U.S. Green Building Council to award Lincoln Hall “silver” status as a registered Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, building – the first on campus.

Philanthropic Support

UIC received substantial private sector gifts at the end of 2009. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences received $300,000 from James and Jaime Thorsen McNulty to increase the number of Asian language courses at UIC and support the program's expansion. James McNulty, a 1973 UIC alumnus with a bachelor's degree in English and a member of the LAS Board of Visitors, is the chairman of NYSE Liffe U.S.

The CME Group, one of Chicago’s most innovative financial institutions, committed $1.4 million to fund the CME Group Archival Project at the UIC University Library. In addition to funding, the CME Group will provide invaluable archival documents that will substantially enhance our special collections. The College of Nursing received $600,000 to establish the Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship Fund for Baccalaureate Nursing Students. CeaseFire, located in the School of Public Health, received separate $500,000 commitments from the MacArthur Foundation and from the McCormick Foundation last month to continue its important work. I have personally met with CEOs and Presidents of Foundations in the greater metro area and I have many more dates set.

Academic Professional Advisory Committee

I recently had the opportunity to meet with the members of the Academic Professional Advisory Committee (APAC). We discussed a myriad of issues but of course most pressing was discussion of the current fiscal crisis, furlough days, and how they affect APs. If you have any suggestions or questions, please contact APAC at apac@uic.edu.

Alumni

Of particular pride to our excellent School of Architecture, the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, opened its doors for business at the turn of the year. UIC alumnus Adrian Smith, College of Architecture and the Arts, ’69, is the building’s designer from his tenure at the Chicago architecture firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. He currently has his own firm, Smith Gill Architects. The Burj Khalifa is not only the tallest building but the tallest man-made structure ever built, at 828 m (2,717 ft). Construction began on September 21, 2004, and the building officially opened on January 4, 2010.

Upcoming / Reminders

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences – of which I am a member – will hold its regional conference at UIC September 21, 2010. The topic of this prestigious scholarly conference will be diabetes and obesity. UIC is a leader in diabetes research and treatment, so it's very fitting that we serve as host.

In response to an invitation initiated by UIC and extended jointly by the presidents of Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, I am very pleased that Francis Collins, the new director of the National Institutes of Health, has tentatively agreed to visit Chicago in April. I will provide more details as they become available.

Again, I recognize that past and current economic problems have presented great challenges to everyone at UIC and, indeed, to all of us in higher education. Nonetheless, due to the hard work and talent of our faculty and staff, and the diligence and creativity of our students, our institution continues to make progress in every one of our core missions. For all your dedication to keep the campus moving forward, I extend my deepest appreciation.

Sincerely,

Paula Allen-Meares
Chancellor