Chancellor Message: Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor, Chicago Tribune

To the Editor:

The April 27 story "Setting sights higher" included a quote regarding the University of Illinois at Chicago that reflects a misunderstanding of UIC's quality and mission and diminishes the achievements of UIC's faculty, students and staff, and also overlooks the strengths of Northeastern Illinois University, a similarly diverse urban public institution.

UIC occupies a unique niche among Illinois institutions as a public, urban, research university. A research university offers students unparalleled opportunities for learning in stimulating classroom, laboratory and field environments, working with distinguished faculty who advance the frontiers of knowledge in their fields.

For more than 80 percent of our undergraduate students, UIC was their top choice. Our record total enrollment of more than 27,000 students speaks to the demand for what UIC offers, including top faculty. One of the best measures of faculty excellence is the federal research funding it receives, and UIC ranks 54th among all U.S. universities in this category. A separate survey released recently by Times Higher Education (UK) ranked UIC 72nd among U.S. universities and 197th worldwide in a survey that looked at research, economic activity and innovation, international diversity and other factors. Two of our faculty are recipients of MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" fellowships.

Our students learn not only on campus but also in the broad, urban milieu that the Chicago-area corporate, civic and cultural community provides. UIC students enjoy an enormous and exciting range of opportunities for internships and field research.

Since 2000, UIC students have won a Rhodes Scholarship, three Gates-Cambridge scholarships, 21 Fulbright fellowships, 14 Goldwater scholarships, eight USA Today All-USA College Academic Team placements and numerous other prestigious, competitive awards. The mean ACT score for students in our Honors College is 28.3; for students in our Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions, it's 31.1.

Is attending UIC a different experience than studying at a small liberal arts college or a traditional land-grant university? Certainly. But the caliber and diversity of our faculty, students and staff, offer a vibrant, meaningful, educational experience that enriches the lives of our students -- and through them, the lives of others -- long after they've graduated.

Paula Allen-Meares