Chancellor Message 7/16/10

Message to Campus
RE Campus news and highlights

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Although the fiscal challenges facing Illinois and the nation are daunting, there is still plenty of good news and I would like to take this opportunity to share some highlights. I plan to follow this communication with a budget update in the near future.

University of Illinois President Michael Hogan

Our new President, Michael Hogan, officially took office on July 1. I look forward to working with the President on the myriad of issues facing the campus and higher education. I think we all recognize the difficulties faced by the enduring fiscal problems of the state and the nation, but we have an enormous reservoir of creativity to tap in our faculty, students and staff, and we will bring that to the table in addressing these concerns. I want to acknowledge once again the efforts that went into the selection process by our Board of Trustees and the presidential search committee as I extend a warm UIC welcome to Dr. Hogan on behalf of the UIC family.

Vision/Mission Retreats

“UIC will be, and be recognized as, the nation's premier urban public research university” June 2006, UIC Strategic Plan, Vision Statement

Background

The coincidence of a new chancellor (me!) and the coming to closure of the UIC 2010 Strategic Plan presents the perfect opportunity to embark upon a new round of strategic planning; to take stock of what has been accomplished, and creatively determine where we need to go next.

The lack of a UIC Strategic Plan, campus developed UIC Values and UIC-based Mission Statement in 2002, when the 2010 Strategic Thinking and Planning process was initiated, clearly suggested that the campus was not ready for a metrical-outcomes based strategic plan and that the Thinking document would be of equal or perhaps greater importance than the plan itself.

Thanks to the daring efforts of the campus leadership, Chancellor Manning and Provost Tanner were able to produce a wonderful Thinking document and a very strong, “vectored” strategic plan. Most importantly they were able to use the thinking, planning, and implementation processes, as well as the NCA reaccreditation process, to achieve an enormous change in the campus such that UIC emerges in 2010 as one of the top Urban Public Research Universities in the nation. The campus' position among its peers and its accomplishments, our shared values and mission, along with its familiarity with planning, all point to a campus that is ready to develop its next strategic plan. Such a plan, while it will certainly build upon the current plan, should represent a set of focused goals with clear and measurable outcomes.

Even the best-laid plans can stray; strategic planning requires a predictable future; our financial future is anything but predictable. The state’s budget status remains uncertain and promises to be so for some time. The University of Illinois Board of Trustees, President Ikenberry and, as of last week, President Hogan are actively working to bring stability and predictability to our future. We will look to help them as they endeavor to stabilize University operations.

Moving Forward

To be honest with you, I am still deconstructing what it truly means to be an “urban public research university” and an engaged university. I have convened the Deans, Vice Chancellors, Senate President, and Vice Provosts to serve as a Strategic Directions Council. We have met on two occasions, March 3 and June 29, and will continue to meet three to four times per year. I will report on their activities through my regular communications with the campus.

The two meetings I have convened surfaced seven strategic directions (in addition to DIVERSITY). These directions relate directly to the goals and values expressed in the 2010 documents and can serve as a focus for campus activity until we develop a new strategic plan. I will briefly describe each below. In some cases the topic lends itself to immediate planning while in others, there is still a great deal of thinking that needs to occur before we can even start to imagine activities, let alone a full plan.

Access to Excellence and Success

UIC has made unparalleled progress with respect to graduation rates over the past 10 years. The overall rate has increased from approximately 30% to the current national average of 54%. The increase has been apparent in all student populations at UIC. We must continue to maintain this increase in momentum while working more diligently on closing first, the gap in graduation rate, then the gap in academic achievement between the many student populations we serve.

UIC, relative to other universities, has a large investment in student success in terms of financial aid, academic departments, student support units, cultural units, academic support units, and mentoring and advising corps within the colleges, and Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. This next phase of planning activity, not inherent to the initial 2006 planning document, will provide a collective strategic direction that includes all of the student success units in order to produce a coherent, cooperative, and synergistic plan to assure increased student success.

A subcommittee of the Strategic Directions Council will continue to work on defining the theme success, and will report back to the full council during the fall meeting.

The Development of an Academic Integrated Health Services Center of the Future

This theme is immediately important as the new federal health care act takes effect, and perhaps equally important in light of the physical status of our hospital and the changing health care landscape both within the Illinois Medical District and throughout the Chicago area.

I will continue to convene, along with the Provost, the Deans of the Health Science Colleges, the CEO of the UIMC, and others, to determine how we will develop an interactive plan leading to a nationally recognized center that embodies our mission – care for the underserved.

A Diverse Urban Institution – Celebrating All Forms of Scholarship

With the arrival of Dr. Garcia, the OVCR has identified three main areas of scholarship at UIC as: 1) Community Disparities, 2) Urban Resilience and Global Environment, and 3) Biomedical Discoveries. The OVCR will convene a “think-tank” committee of campus leaders in each of these areas. Their discussions will help UIC define the various types of scholarship recognized by UIC and those areas of scholarship in which the OVCR should focus its activity and resources.

Global Perspectives

For our graduates to be successful, they need a global perspective. Already identified as one of the six themes in the UIC General Education Program, the campus must focus greater attention on this area. Such activities should include a greater emphasis on Study Abroad. In keeping with this theme, I am funding a pilot Global Learning Community initiative. The multicourse program, linking Freshman Composition to the Global Cultures Gen Ed core, includes a study abroad and/or national experience, and culminates in the awarding of a campus certificate. Collaborations with international universities and organizations will continue to be a part of our globalization agenda.

While these activities will focus attention on this area, we must become strategic in our intent and develop a means to both inventory the resources we have and determine how best to coordinate these activities as we move forward. A subcommittee from the Strategic Directions Council will continue to work on defining this theme and will report back to the full council during the fall meeting.

Engagement - Community Relations and the redefinition of the Great Cities Institute

As a proudly diverse, urban public research institution, UIC must maintain and expand its dialog with our communities to best comprehend their needs, and collaborate with them to enhance their objectives and deepen our understanding. In a manner analogous to the issues surrounding the development of an Academic Integrated Health Sciences/Care Center, and Student Success, this initial planning activity must address a collective strategic direction that includes all of the colleges, including Social Work, Education, Architecture and the Arts, Public Health, Nursing, and Urban Planning and Public Affairs, and the Great Cities Institute.

A subcommittee of the Strategic Directions Council will continue to work on defining this theme and will report back to the full council during the fall meeting.

Identity – Marketing

While Identity (Branding) and Marketing were discussed separately, to my thinking they are part of the same issue. We must first understand who we are; what are our goals; what defines us as UIC and makes us unique. What does it mean to be a diverse, urban university? How does this relate to our education and research missions? How does this relate to our health care mission? Once we have identified the basic tenets of UIC we must bring those messages to our stakeholders. We must clearly and succinctly convey, with the right message, the tremendous impact we have on our communities, our city, state, nation, and, of course, the world.

Two subcommittees of the Strategic Directions Council will continue to work on defining these two themes and will report back to the full council during the fall meeting.

In summary

We have a responsibility to use our resources wisely and in a manner that benefits the taxpayers of Illinois, as well the communities of Chicago, the U.S., and the world. We have a responsibility to the 26,000 students who attend UIC, the 100,000 alums who depend upon our continued excellence for their personal reputation and professional value, our donors who have invested both financially and from their soul to help our mission, and of course, the faculty and staff who not only depend upon the campus for their livelihood and retirement, but for their personal definition.

To this end we will continue to have a series of ongoing focused planning exercises. They will be based on our values and mission as put forth in the 2010 documents. They will assure we use our resources wisely, to their fullest, and in a manner that allows for maximal synergy in achieving our goals and addressing our mission. They will form the basis for the next full strategic plan. I will keep you apprised of our progress in future campus communications.

Development Update

Now I have the pleasure of sharing this excellent news: our Brilliant Futures Campaign passed the $500 MILLION mark as of the end of the fiscal year. My gratitude extends to everyone involved in the hard work of raising funds and our generous benefactors large and small.

Faculty News

Our faculty members are a continued source of great pride as their accomplishments continue to shine a bright light on the campus. Here are just two examples out of many.

If you travel downtown you won't be able to miss “Eye,” a new public art installation by Tony Tasset, professor of studio arts in the College of Architecture and the Arts. The sculpture, a 30-foot-tall giant eyeball, was unveiled July 7 in Pritzker Park in Chicago's Loop. The work was commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance as part of a program to beautify State Street from Wacker Drive to Congress Parkway. Another work by Professor Tasset is on view at the same time along that nine-block route. Called “Cardinal,” the series of 156 street banners shows the Illinois state bird in successive stages of flight that, seen as a whole, looks like a flipbook animation. Both pieces will be on view until October 1.

Nick Huggett, professor of philosophy, won a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, which funds research in the humanities. Professor Huggett's work combines philosophy and physics, and with this award he plans to investigate the foundations of quantum theories of spacetime, or “quantum gravity.” From his research he will collaborate on a book that investigates the implications of such theories on a number of central philosophical ideas. Huggett's project is one of six selected from 70 proposals.

Research News

I'm very pleased to announce the second round of grants awarded through the Chancellor's Discovery Fund for Multidisciplinary Research. This program, facilitated by Dr. Garcia, Vice Chancellor for Research, supports new multidisciplinary collaborations led by emerging researchers at UIC. One of the primary goals of the award is to foster academic inquiry that draws on the expertise of varied disciplines.

The following faculty teams received spring competition awards:

Project: “Participation through Innovation: Social entrepreneurship as a pathway to employment for people with disabilities.”
PIs: Sarah Parker, Assistant Professor, Disability and Human Development; Maija Renko, Assistant Professor, Managerial Studies.
Project: “Numerical and experimental study of collagen cross-linking treatment for keratoconus.”
PIs: Craig Foster, Assistant Professor, Civil and Materials Engineering; Sandeep Jain, Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.
Project: “Colloidal Synthesis of zinc phosphide and tantalum oxynitride nanocrystals for solar energy generation.”
PIs: Preston Snee, Assistant Professor, Chemistry; Randall Meyer, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering; Robert Klie, Assistant Professor, Physics.
Project: “miRNAs as determinants of breast cancer response to endocrine therapy.”
PIs: Jonna Frasor, Assistant Professor, Physiology and Biophysics; Yang Dai, Associate Professor, Bioengineering; Elizabeth Wiley, Director of Surgical Pathology, Pathology.
Project: “Mechanisms of cognitive impairment in sleep apnea syndrome: feasibility studies in a novel animal model.”
PIs: Irina Topchiy, Research Assistant Professor, Medicine; Michael Ragozzino, Associate Professor, Psychology; Miodrag Radulovacki, Professor, Pharmacology; David Carley, Professor, Biobehavioral and Health Sciences.

Grants

UIC received notice of a five-year, $19.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to create a multi-institutional research team that will study reading for understanding among students in middle school and high school. The grant, one of the largest in our history, is funded through the Institute of Education Sciences' Reading for Understanding Research Initiative, a network of six research teams that will develop approaches to help students in pre-kindergarten to 12th grade understand what they read. The project's principal investigator, Susan R. Goldman, is co-director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at UIC and distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences, psychology, and education.

The College of Dentistry received a $10 million federal grant to transform its research facilities into a state-of-the-art clinical and translational research center. The grant, part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act obtained through the NIH, will be used to construct a clinical research center, create core facilities, and refurbish the remaining 23,000 square feet of laboratory space that was not completed in an earlier construction phase. Dean Bruce Graham notes that once the construction is complete, the entire 39,000 square feet of laboratory space at the College will have been upgraded.

A $9.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to the UIC Center for Population Health and Health Disparities will help researchers study access to care and health disparities among underserved and minority women with breast cancer in Chicago. Our Center is one of 10 sites across the country to receive funding from the NIH. Richard Warnecke, professor emeritus in the School of Public Health, and Elizabeth Calhoun, associate professor of health policy and administration in Public Health, are co-program directors of the Center at UIC's Institute for Health Research and Policy.

UIC received a federal grant for a total makeover of its pioneering virtual reality device called the CAVE. The CAVE, which stands for Cave Automatic Virtual Environment, is a collaborative effort by the Colleges of Engineering and Architecture and the Arts. Jason Leigh, lead investigator, associate professor Andrew Johnson, EVL associate director Maxine Brown, and EVL computer science adjunct assistant professor Tom Peterka received a three-year, $700,000 National Science Foundation grant to help build the new CAVE.

I want to add that as of this writing, UIC has been awarded more than $76.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding.

Student News

For the second year in a row, UIC was among the top tier of universities nationwide in the number of recipients of Gilman International Scholarship awards, with 10 recent awardees. From Fall 2008 through Spring 2010, there have been 16 UIC recipients. Destinations for the 10 UIC students are represented on four continents: Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

UIC medical student from the Peoria campus and community volunteer Mario Martinez was one of 14 Americans recognized with the Jefferson Award, regarded as the “Nobel Prize” for public service. The award is regarded as one of the nation's highest honors for community service and volunteerism.

In a wonderful example of our relationship to our community, 11 area high school students have been selected to take part in an intensive summer internship, working in the UIC islet cell labs to learn about the immune system, diabetes, transplantation, and pancreatic islet cell isolation. The students, who excel in honors and advanced-placement science courses, are interested in careers in research or medicine. Under the direction of Dr. Jose Oberholzer, chief of transplantation at UIC and head of the Chicago Diabetes Project, the students will attend lectures on lab ethics, manufacturing of islet therapies, and lab operations.

Fifty applications were submitted in the first year of the Chancellor's Supplemental Graduate Research Fellowship program, and of those, 20 received awards. We're very pleased with this outcome and we look forward to our first set of renewal applications. I want to emphasize that students from all disciplines are eligible to apply for these fellowships and I encourage all graduate students to review the guidelines available on the Graduate College website.

Campus Sustainability Progress

I'm delighted to share our latest excellent news with regards to sustainability at UIC: We have just been notified that Lincoln Hall was awarded LEED Gold Certification. This is truly a great achievement; we had only aspired for Silver. The UIC Office of Capital Programs did a superb job working through the rigorous process of certification. We have now shown that building green is a viable option for our campus. I also want to note that the overall waste recycled on campus surpassed 40% this past spring.

International Agreements

UIC's international engagement continues to grow, most recently with the campus signing of two new agreements for collaboration with distinguished European institutions: ESIGELEC (The School of Higher Education Studies in Engineering) in Rouen, France; and Delft University in the Netherlands. The latter will focus on student exchange in the College of Architecture and the Arts. The former will address research collaboration and student exchange in the College of Engineering. UIC's international exchange agreements with foreign institutions now number more than 100, linking UIC to major institutions of higher learning in over 40 countries, representing every continent. For the full list of active UIC agreements with institutional partners abroad, I invite you to visit the Office of International Affairs website. I will continue meeting with Allan Lerner, Professor and Associate Provost for International Affairs, and others, to keep the up the momentum on international collaboration.

Alumni News

Jay DeMerit '02 BFA, School of Art and Design, who played on the World Cup U.S. soccer team, served a vital role as the U.S. won a World Cup group for the first time since 1930. Mr. DeMerit starred for UIC from 1998 to 2001. In his time at UIC he led the Flames to the NCAA soccer tournament in 2000.

On June 1, Mary Dillon, '83 BS, Marketing, made history on two fronts by becoming the first female President and CEO for U.S. Cellular and the entire wireless industry. Ms. Dillon was named one of The Wall Street Journal's “Top 50 Women to Watch” in 2006.

Recent Events

The College of Pharmacy's “Operation Immunization” claimed the top national award from the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists. More than 220 events were conducted last fall through 15 projects by the 343 student pharmacists and 17 faculty and staff who assisted. UIC students immunized and educated people at clinics, community pharmacies, civic centers, churches, and workplaces throughout the Chicago area and provided information at health fairs, elementary schools, and flu clinics. The Operation Immunization campaign resulted in nearly 15,000 people being immunized; more than 6,600 received health and wellness clinical services.

The 2010 Minority and Female Business Enterprise Program (or MAFBE) saw an increase of 66% attendance of MAFBE firms and vendors at the “Making the Connection 2010” event. I want to extend my gratitude to Janice Thomas, MAFBE coordinator, and Heather Haberaecker, Executive Assistant Vice President for Business and Finance, and everyone else involved in making this year a success. The annual conference is designed to increase the amount of business the University does with companies owned by minorities, women, and persons with disabilities. We were honored to have Trustee Lawrence Oliver provide the keynote address. Trustee Frances Carroll welcomed participants on behalf of the Board of Trustees. The campus goal is to increase UIC’s business with MAFBE vendors by 25% over the next year.

The UIC Medical Center hosted a “Legislators in the Lab” meeting on June 17 and June 18, sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). This visit was designed to let leaders in the health field share their expertise with state legislators who have a strong interest in health care policy. Legislators participating in this program had the opportunity to learn firsthand about cardiovascular disease diagnostic tools, demographics, and treatment strategies from UIC's medical professionals. UIC's advancements in research and treatment were showcased to this very distinguished group of state legislators from across the country. According to Dean Joe Flaherty, the feedback from the legislators was tremendous and the event served as an invaluable way to drive home the impact of state and federal investments in public universities.

Upcoming Events

The fifth annual UIC Convocation will kick off the 2010-2011 academic year on Sunday, August 22, at 3:00 p.m. at the UIC Pavilion. The annual event, a ceremony to welcome new freshmen and transfer students, will mark the official beginning of a new student's entry into the UIC academic community. The effort goes a long way in promoting the first-year experience and success of our newest students. I urge you to mark your calendar for this inspiring event.

I want to remind you that the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences will hold its regional conference at UIC September 21. The topic of this prestigious scholarly conference, Diabetes and Obesity, will provide an excellent opportunity to highlight our expertise in this area.

I wish you an enjoyable rest of the summer and look forward to reporting back to you after the start of the fall semester.

Sincerely,

Paula Allen-Meares
Chancellor