Chancellor Message 7/12/11

Message to Campus
RE Chancellor’s Community Letter

I wanted to share with you a recent letter I sent to our external constituents. We refer to this as our community letter, and it brings many of our donors and friends of UIC up to date on the latest news from the campus. I'm happy to share this with you today.

Paula Allen-Meares
John Corbally Presidential Professor

Dear UIC Community;

Now that we've come to the close of another wonderful academic year, I can take a moment to redirect my attention to the steady progress we continue to make at UIC. Commencement is a time to reflect on the campus and the people who make it an outstanding institution — our excellent faculty, staff, alumni, and most of all, our students.

Since I became chancellor two years ago, no issue has been of greater concern to our community — and to me — than the state's budget crisis and its impact on our progress as a leading research and educational institution. UIC and the University of Illinois system, our state and our nation, face historic budget challenges. We are operating in an environment of great uncertainty that makes planning for the future difficult. In spite of these challenges, we continue to produce amazing research, generate new discoveries, build on existing relationships, and strive to forge new ones. And most of all, we just graduated another group of UIC alumni.

Jerry Bauman, Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost, and I have spent a good deal of time visiting various academic units, joining the faculty senate meetings,- and in general making ourselves available and listening to our community's voices. During the past year we have also been heavily invested in defining a road map for our future keeping in mind the likely challenging financial scenarios we can expect. As such, we've begun the process of updating our vision statement and goals, and I'm happy to share those with you here. Our most current vision statement is as follows:

Vision Statement
UIC is a premiere urban public research institution; a university deeply committed to academic excellence and student success and transformative impact; a research-intensive university with scholarship focused on urban resilience, social justice, social science, community health, economic and educational disparities, the arts, the humanities, the natural sciences, and biomedical discovery. We are a campus with a global perspective strongly rooted in Chicago, but with a statewide presence and responsibility. We operate health science campuses in Peoria, Rockford, Urbana-Champaign and the Quad Cities. UIC stands for excellence and a commitment for transformative impact.

Our Commitment and Goals
Through a variety of strategic planning workshops and discussions, and the university-wide Administrative Review and Restructuring Report implementations, UIC faculty members and leadership have identified several strategic priorities at the intersection of our core strengths and opportunities. These action items are designed to meet anticipated future societal needs and to place UIC in a strong position regionally and nationally in the years ahead.

UIC will advance six overarching goals:

  1. Focus on our academic excellence, access, and student success.
  2. Emphasize transformative impact and social good.
  3. Grow our translational research and discovery enterprise.
  4. Foster diversity and a global perspective.
  5. Honor and partner with Chicago and the state of Illinois to enhance the human condition of its citizens.
  6. Innovate within to build future strength and success.

With this vision and these goals we will ensure our singular adherence to our preeminent mission, that is, access to excellence and success.

During the first week in May, UIC graduated nearly 7,000 students, and including family and friends we hosted over 34,000 guests. In addition to the actual commencement ceremonies, we celebrated our students at the African American Academic Network convocation, the Latino American Recruitment and Educational Services celebratory dinner, the Lavender Graduation hosted by the Gender and Sexuality Center, and the Honors College convocation. As every year, there was a lot to celebrate.

Our scheduled commencement speakers included such dignitaries and friends of UIC as Terry Mazany, CEO of The Chicago Community Trust and interim CEO of the Chicago Public Schools; University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher Kennedy; Deborah Rutter, President of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association; Arnold Relman, former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine; and Michelle Saddler, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Each year, I have the pleasure of attending the Chancellor's Student Service and Leadership Awards ceremony. I was proud to acknowledge the 387 outstanding students who were honored this year for their contributions through campus and community volunteer service.

I convened the Chancellor's Student Advisory Committee in April, and along with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Barbara Henley, we discussed the quality of student life on campus.

Our students continue to be recognized for their outstanding academic achievements. Here are a select few:

  • Jochen Arndt, a doctoral candidate in history, won a Foreign Language Areas Studies Fellowship to study the South African language Xhosa. Mr. Arndt, who has published an article on the links between colonial knowledge and identity formation, is researching the Xhosa ethnic identity and consciousness produced by the relationship between missionaries and the Xhosa-speaking people.
  • Saeb Ahsan, a student in finance and entrepreneurship, was awarded a Fulbright to Turkey to study entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility.
  • Kevin Conley, a kinesiology major who has been accepted into the UIC College of Medicine, won a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Korea.
  • Jessica Galea, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is one of 35 Americans to be awarded a United Kingdom Fulbright Fellowship for graduate study in Britain for the 2011-2012 academic year.
  • Ying He, a doctoral candidate in the College of Pharmacy, has for the second consecutive year been awarded the National Biotechnology Conference Biotechnology Graduate Student Award from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • Paul Roots, a student in civil engineering, has been awarded a Udall Scholarship to support his studies toward a career related to the environment.
  • Alan Tang, a student in biochemistry and math, was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship for his commitment to a career in math, science, or engineering research.
  • Jennifer Veilleux, a doctoral candidate in psychology, is one of eight graduate students nationwide selected to receive a 2011 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. • We can boast of six new Gilman Scholars this year: Sara Agate, Lourdes Gonzalez, Luis Alberto Gonzalez, Nakendra Jackson, Laura Montoya Quinchia, and Ryshona Odeneal.
  • UIC's student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers took several top prizes at the regional competitions held at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. UIC's team came in first place in the overall conference competition; we placed first in the surveying and geotechnical categories, and second in the environmental category. UIC competed with 17 other university teams, including Urbana-Champaign, Bradley, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue, Valparaiso, and Wisconsin-Madison.
  • The College of Engineering's Minority Engineering Recruitment and Retention Program was recognized for its support and leadership in co-hosting the 2011 Regional Conference of the Society of Hispanic Professional Leadership held in April. UIC was named "outstanding student chapter" in recognition of its community service, academics, and leadership.
  • More good news from our College of Engineering: Exelon and ComEd hired 19 of our students for paid internships this year.
  • The UIC women's tennis team went to the NCAA after winning its 15th-straight Horizon League championship. Kudos to head coach Shannon Tully and the Flames for this great showing.
  • Under Coach Michelle Venturella, the UIC Women's Softball team won the Horizon League Championship and a trip to the NCAA Regionals.


As always, there is more than enough good news to go around about the superb faculty who continue to build on our reputation.

  • Caswell Evans, Associate Dean for Prevention and Public Health Sciences in the College of Dentistry, was awarded the 2011 Gies Award for dedication to the highest standards of vision, innovation, and achievement in dental education, research, and leadership by the American Dental Education Association.
  • Jenny Hoobler, Associate Professor of Managerial Studies, was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant for her project, "The Impact of Race and Gender on the Career Progress of South Africans." She will spend 11 months in South Africa conducting research in collaboration with Professor Stella Nkomo of the University of Pretoria.
  • Jorge C. Kattah, Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology in the College of Medicine at Peoria, was elected Councilor for the Neuro-Opthalmology Neuro Ocular section of the American Academy of Neurology.
  • James C. Lin, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was invited by Thomson Reuters and Times Higher Education to participate in the annual Academic Reputation Survey to support the World University Rankings.
  • Kim Potowski, Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics, was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to research native language arts in Mexico for one year. Professor Potowski plans to teach for two semesters at Benito Juárez Autonomous University of Oaxaca and develop materials for heritage-speaker courses in U.S. high schools and universities.
  • Rachel Weber, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Policy, will serve on a task force appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to reform Chicago's tax increment financing system.

For the second straight year, the UIC College of Pharmacy ranked third in total federal research funding according to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. The college received more than $28 million in grants funded by the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies in 2010.

Here are a few other select research grants:

  • Most outstanding is a $14 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to the UIC Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology for a project led by Professor Emeritus Michael Johnson. This grant will be used to study medicine to counter the effects of anthrax and other bioterrorism agents.
  • Stefan Wenger, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early CAREER award of over $400,000 for his project, "Geometric Inequalities, Asymptotic Geometry, and Geometric Measure Theory."
  • Creasie Hairston, Dean of the Jane Addams College of Social Work, is the principal investigator for a recent grant of nearly $300,000 from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). UIC, in collaboration with DCFS, will implement the STEP program statewide to provide field support to DCFS and private-sector direct supervisors of child welfare services to facilitate implementation and sustaining of the Illinois model of Family-centered, Trauma-informed, Strength-based (FTS) practice.
  • Lisa Lee, director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, received a grant from the Joyce Foundation for their new exhibit "Redefining Democracy." The Joyce Foundation joins the MacArthur, Driehaus, Graham, and other foundations who have supported the new exhibition.
  • The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum will also open a public heirloom seed library with a federal grant of more than $15,000. The library will provide free, regionally adapted seeds to urban farmers and gardeners. Members of the community may apply for library cards to obtain seeds if they agree to plant the seeds, nurture the plants, and return seeds from the next generation at the end of the growing season.


  • Christopher Kennedy, Chairman of the University Board of Trustees, came to campus on April 14 to present his vision for the research university and the role it can play in our society. You can access the video of Chairman Kennedy's presentation online.
  • The Institute of Government and Public Affairs held a forum April 12 on the ongoing discussion in Illinois regarding pension plans for University and other public employees. You can access the video of the pension panel online.
  • The UIC Forum continues to be a sought after venue for such outstanding events as the Chicago Public Library Foundation's Literary Awards Dinner. At the most recent award dinner, the Forum played host to Oprah Winfrey who interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison.
  • U.S. Senator Dick Durbin came to UIC, joined by President Hogan and me, to promote and remind families to use the federal tax credit for tuition. Senator Durbin noted that the American Opportunity Tax Credit, intended to help students pursue dreams of higher education in financially stressed times, has been claimed by fewer than half of eligible Illinois families, costing them more than $1 billion.
  • The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum celebrated the 150th birthday of the Nobel Prize-winning social reformer with the unveiling of a five-month restoration, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. The museum, at 800 South Halsted Street, is a legacy we are proud to call our own. We look forward to welcoming more visitors in the future and making this a must-see experience for visitors world-wide.

The schedule for the academic year 2011-12 will continue to focus on intellectually stimulating lectures and performances including Eboo Patel, a member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships; Eduardo Fernandez, recognized as one of today's leading guitarists; David Owen, a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1991 and Scott Page, Director of the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan.

The Blizzard of 2011
We survived the blizzard of 2011 with staff members working through the storm, remaining on campus to take care of our patients and students. Our Facilities Management workers braved the frigid cold to clear the snow so classes could resume. More than 300 health care workers volunteered to remain at the hospital during the blizzard, sleeping on cots and visitors chairs. Students in the residence halls formed "snow patrols" to help push cars for stranded motorists. Children's Center teacher Yannie Fan stayed overnight in a residence hall so she could open the Child Care Center for parents the next day. We are indeed one extended family and we took care of each other as any family would.

The Earthquake in Japan
Within hours of the earthquake, the UIC Office of International Affairs reached out to our students studying in Japan and the families of Japanese students studying at UIC. We were very relieved that our students and families were safe, yet we sympathize greatly with the Japanese community and everyone affected by this natural tragedy.

In his 43 years as part of our community, Joe Flaherty distinguished himself in every aspect of our missions — teaching, research, clinical care, and public service. His legacy is evident in the thousands of physicians we have trained, the clinical translational science award, and our role as one of the principal educators of health professionals from under-represented groups. As much as anyone, Joe embodied the College of Medicine's historic mission to advance the health of the underserved people of the State of Illinois, the nation, and around the globe. We wish him the best in all his future endeavors as we welcome Dr. Dimitri Azar as the Interim Dean.

I have kept a vigorous schedule visiting some of our pipe-line schools to make certain we are ever present as students begin thinking about their higher education options. I recently visited UIC College Prep and the Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy, among other schools as we seek to keep UIC front and center as an excellent choice for higher education.

To all of you, our friends and supporters, I urge you to stay connected and remain an important part of the UIC family. For our newest alumni, I conveyed on behalf of all who went before them here and everywhere my best wishes for their success. They are truly our legacy. We also look forward to their continued participation in the life of UIC. I asked them to return to campus often and share their accomplishments. We want them to be involved with the young adults who will follow in their footsteps.

To our faculty, staff and supporters, I thank you for your roles in mentoring our students.

I hope everyone has a wonderful summer.

Paula Allen-Meares
John Corbally Presidential Professor