Chancellor Message: Commencement 2011

Dear UIC Class of 2011 and to our entire campus community:

Commencement is a time to reflect on UIC and the people who make it an outstanding institution -- our faculty, staff, alumni and most of all, our students. As we prepare to congratulate our newest alumni on their graduation, I'd like to share some of the more notable events of the past year:

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

UIC sponsored the first debate for candidates in the Chicago mayoral race. After the election, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel held an education forum attended by 600 high school students in Student Center East.

Oprah Winfrey came to the UIC campus to interview Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison onstage for the Chicago Public Library Foundation's Literary Awards Dinner at the UIC Forum. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Representative Danny Davis were all welcome visitors to campus.

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 part of our own.

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.

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 UIC. The University of Illinois faces historic budget challenges, operating in an environment of great uncertainty that makes planning for the future very difficult. In spite of these challenges, we continue to produce amazing work and we're on the cusp of graduating another group of future UIC alumni.

We are honored that our scheduled commencement speakers this year include such dignitaries and friends 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 Luis Alberto Urrea, UIC distinguished professor of English and Pulitzer Prize finalist whose books have been selected for more than 30 One Book community reading programs.

To our students who are graduating, I send you all my good wishes for the future. We will always be proud to call you our alumni; you are truly our legacy. We look forward to your continued participation in the life of UIC. Please return to campus often and share with us your accomplishments.

Paula Allen-Meares
John Corbally Presidential Professor