Chancellor Message 9/16/09

Letter to the Community

Dear Friend of the Campus,

During the nine months I have served as Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago, it has been my pleasure to meet with hundreds of our friends and supporters. With my first full academic year at UIC underway, I am very pleased to share with you some recent events that highlight the multiple missions of our great university.

We began the new academic year with 25,647 students enrolled — with almost 16,000 undergraduates. More than 3,600 freshmen and family members joined more than 100 UIC faculty and staff at the annual New Student Convocation on August 23rd for a warm and energetic welcome to UIC. In my remarks to the audience I made clear that what happens in the classroom is of paramount importance to us. By learning from and working with our excellent faculty, students at UIC have professional opportunities and participate in journeys of discovery that are available only at leading research institutions.

The past several months have seen a remarkable series of grants, awards and other recognitions for our community. Many of these relate to UIC´s Great Cities Commitment, in which UIC faculty, students and staff work with community partners to improve the quality of urban life in Chicago and around the world. I believe these highlights will give you a sense of UIC´s intellectual vitality and momentum that I see every day:

  • The National Institutes of Health awarded a five-year $20 million grant — the largest in our history — to UIC´s Center for Clinical and Translational Science. The Center draws upon the rich intellectual breadth of the campus and adds to the portfolio of excellent research underway at UIC. Translational research moves new, basic science knowledge into useful applications for health and medicine. Some projects already funded by the Center include a collaborative research program in asthma and allergic diseases, immunotherapy to treat severe infections in patients with compromised immune systems, and a multi-disciplinary approach to improving cancer care for rural residents. The Center includes all six health science colleges as well as the colleges of Engineering, Urban Planning and Public Affairs, Education, Liberal Arts and Sciences and from Urbana, the supercomputer center, nanotechnology and genomics. My sincere congratulations and thanks to Theodore Mazzone, professor of medicine and director of the Center, and his colleagues for this remarkable achievement.
  • Another faculty member, Mary Jo LaDu, associate professor of anatomy and cell biology, has been awarded more than $9.8 million to head a five-year National Institute on Aging Program Project Grant. The project will examine the biology of the most important risk factor in Alzheimer´s disease. Dr. LaDu will join with colleagues from the University of Kentucky, Washington University in St. Louis, Georgetown University and the University of South Florida.
  • UIC was awarded a $7.2 million federal grant to establish the UIC Center of Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities. The new Center, funded by a five-year grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the NIH, will focus on health disparities in prostate and colorectal cancer, and community-based breast cancer initiatives. This grant will also help educate and train the next generation of health disparities researchers. Elizabeth Calhoun, associate professor of health policy and administration in the School of Public Health, is director of the new Center, and Carol Ferrans, professor and associate dean for research at the College of Nursing is co-director.
  • Donald Wink, professor of chemistry, is the lead investigator in a five-year, $5 million National Science Foundation grant to UIC, the Chicago Public Schools and researchers at four other Chicago-area universities to create the Chicago Transformation Teacher Institutes. The Institutes will train teachers at public high schools to develop 12th-grade science and math courses to help college-bound seniors do better in these fields once they enter their freshman university year.
  • Two faculty members in the College of Architecture and the Arts won prestigious 2009-2010 Guggenheim fellowships. Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, professor of art, is internationally known for his large installations combining sculpture, film and video. Ryan Cohan, adjunct teaching associate, is a jazz pianist and composer teaching at UIC. Five Architecture and Arts faculty have now been awarded Guggenheim fellowships.
  • Geraldine Gorman, assistant professor of health systems science in the College of Nursing, was named the first-ever “Nurse Hero” by the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. The award is presented to a nurse, nursing student or retired nurse who has exhibited heroism either in response to an emergency situation or through ongoing commitment to the community. Professor Gorman exemplifies our spirit of service.
  • I was honored to be appointed vice chair of Section X of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, on July 1st. I look forward to working with the Institutes of Medicine as they plan their regional gathering for 2010 to be held for the first time at UIC.
  • Every year, we are delighted to see our students win highly competitive national honors, and put what they learned in the classroom and laboratory to work for the benefit of society. For example, Aarti Sharma, a major in chemistry, Honors College student, an accomplished fencer, violinist and pianist, graduated in May with a 4.0 grade point average, and recently won an American-Scandinavian Foundation fellowship to do diabetes research next year at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. As a senatorial advocate at the American Diabetes Association, Ms. Sharma has written and contacted government officials regarding pending legislation and has served as a juvenile diabetes camp medical staffer and teacher.

Even during our current economic challenges, private giving for fiscal year 2009 was up 11.1 percent, with UIC alumni and friends generously committing $65.5 million. Much of this generosity comes in the form of annual gifts, which are largely alumni donations that help fund specific college and unit priorities. We feel the impact of these gifts across the campus every day and I am grateful to all those who make opportunities possible for our hard-working students. We look forward to honoring our alumni this fall, Friday October 23rd, at the UIC Annual Alumni 5 Awards. It is always a pleasure to see how much good work continues into the future after our students leave campus.

In closing, I encourage you to visit our Web site for regular updates about important events on campus. Thank you again for your support of and advocacy for UIC.

Sincerely,

Paula Allen-Meares
Chancellor