University leaders look to the future
On his second day as University of Illinois president May 19, Timothy Killeen and the chancellors of the three campuses — UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis, Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch — held a town hall to answer questions from students, faculty and staff about the university’s future. The transcript follows.
(MODERATOR ROBERT WINN) I think the biggest thing that we’re all here for is the excitement of the future of the University of Illinois and what’s possible. And bringing out our best.
In that context, it’s clear to me that while we have people here who have been here for, let’s say, maybe a couple decades, we also have people who have just arrived here. The important thing that I want to get across to you is that all of our perspectives and all those perspectives are valued.
And for this place to really meet the challenges that we sort of set before it, we need to hear all your voices. And so I come from a place where, if you didn’t know it or not, that I’m not really all that shy, but I will tell you that if you are shy, today’s the time to sort of get over that, if you can, because the importance of our leadership coming to us and wanting to hear what we have to say, I think is critical and it’s a critical moment and a critical time to sort of do such.
In that context, we really want to actually have a conversation, and I know that we probably have a couple lawyers in the audience that are probably into defending and constructing arguments. Actually I would like to reframe that as sort of saying we know we’re all here for one purpose, and that is to achieve the greatness for the university in our service to other people. Whether it’s through education, through health, through business. That’s what we do. In that context, I am going to give you a little bit of rules, though. The panel will be here, and they will talk for roughly about 30 minutes. And then we’re going to have 30 minutes of question and answer sessions. And at the end of that, we’re actually going to have some presentations from our students because we believe that that’s actually also very important. And then some music and then we’ll have a reception. So that’s the overlay.
My number one job is to get things going, because you don’t want to hear from me. And I don’t want to waste any time. So I have been given absolute instructions, which is why for the first time you’re seeing my glasses come out, to make certain that I don’t miss a word when it comes to introducing President Killeen. So I’m going to read every word that I’ve been instructed to do so. (Laughter). But with joy actually. So I’m excited about this, too, because I think this is great.
You all know that Dr. Killeen was named our 20th president at the University of Illinois by the board of trustees late in 2014, and he began his tenure — well, relatively recently. He’s a native of Wales, a U.S. citizen. Dr. Killeen is a geophysicist, a space scientist, who earned his bachelor and doctorate degrees at the University College of London. Before joining U of I, he was the vice chancellor for research and president for Research Foundations at SUNY, otherwise known as the State University of New York, which I hail from. A system of 64 campuses, 465,000 students. At the Research Foundation he administered $900 million in funding across SUNY’s 29 research campuses. Previously he held faculty and senior administrative positions at the National Science Foundation, the University of Colorado, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the University of Michigan. And more importantly, I think, as our leader, he actually has the vision of where we ought to go. And I think through his passion and through his leadership, I’m certain that we will get there.
We also have other members on the panel who I will introduce, many of you know them already. Chancellor Amiridis from our Chicago campus, Chancellor Koch from the Springfield campus, and Chancellor Wise from the Urbana campus. And you will hear from them as well. But I think it’s important to hear from our leader, our president, President Killeen.
(TIMOTHY KILLEEN) Thanks, everybody. Thanks for being here. Notice I’ve already got my glasses on because I don’t want to make, to just wing it here today, because it’s so thrilling to see you all in the room. Thank you so much for coming.
This is Day 1.6 and counting of my presidency. And it’s wonderful that you’re here and it’s great to be here with the leadership team of the University of Illinois. So it’s been almost six months to the day since I was introduced as president, and I really do feel like that eager teenager who’s just been given his driver’s license. As I think about that, it’s probably not the right image (laughter). And in fact, if you look at me, you can see I’m somewhat past the teenage years as well. But it’s been an exciting time the last six months, of listening, learning, visiting and reading.
When my appointment was announced, I said I was in awe of the University of Illinois and I’ve grown to appreciate it even more. Its legacy, its capabilities, its history, its opportunities, its challenges, but most of all the fantastic people. So I have to start by profoundly thanking the board of trustees for their confidence in me. And Bob and Cheryl Easter who have given immeasurably of their time and expertise to both me and my wife Roberta to help with the transition. I realize I have big shoes to fill and I realize that I need to win and earn your trust as we go forward. But I can’t tell you how happy I am to be on the clock and to be able to say “we” and mean it’s all of us together and to be part of the university with such rich potential and boundless energy.
So the U of I, as you know, is home to three campuses, and their leadership is right on the stage here with me. Each of the campuses are superstars in their own divisions. A stellar flagship research campus with nearly 150 years of pioneering success. The world’s, here, only comprehensive research university with a land grant mission situated in a world city. Think about that for a minute. And a young and vibrant liberal arts college in the state capital with world-leading capabilities in distance education, public policy and many other areas.
All three are committed to world-class teaching and learning with fabulous faculty and staff, talented students and loyal alumni and supporters. And it also has a seasoned team of leaders who share a commitment to build on our excellence and I’m delighted that we’re all together and we’re traveling all week together. We’ll be supping together, we’re moving in the bus with fairly soft seats, having nice conversations on the way. And I’m really looking forward to working with them and with all of you.
So I want to thank again many people who volunteered their time, counsel and support during the transition, and I want to make another reference to Bob Easter. Over the past four decades, Bob has been at the University of Illinois in almost every job category that you can imagine. And I can’t begin to replicate that body of expertise and experience. And he is leaving behind — he’s leaving, he’s actually not going away, I’ve ascertained — he’s leaving a legacy of integrity, loyalty, and dedication that stands as a model of the qualities that the U of I seeks to instill in all of its graduates. So I know all of you join me in wishing Bob and Cheryl a second shot at retirement or actually, I’m told, a third shot at retirement.
So since I’m the new kid on block, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here to meet with you and share a little built of what the vision is that we will travel together, and the togetherness is the big deal, to build on the university’s greatness and get the word out to our constituents around the state.
First, as I said when I was introduced, my presidency is dedicated to you students, and that means you students, the ones here and the ones to come, providing an education that transforms lives and supplies the human capital that is critical to support public good into the 21st century. That is what it’s all about, and if we ever wake up and worry about another day at the office, then think about that mission and think about how privileged you are to be part of that kind of a mission.
The social work pioneer Jane Addams said America’s future will be determined by the home and the school. Children become largely what they’re taught. Hence we must watch what we teach and how we live. So curricular development is incredibly important. The experiential learning, the applied learning, global engagement for our students, are all incredibly important.
Second, the public good has to be at the heart of everything we do and we need to tell our sponsors and stakeholders about it. We exist to serve not only our students but the needs of our state, our nation, and our world. We’re an incubator for the next generation workforce and pioneering discovery that combines progress, spark economic development, advance culture and lift our society. And this is a role the University of Illinois has filled with distinction over the course of its long history, through contributions that helped pave America’s transition from an agrarian economy to the industrial era and the modern, digital, electronic age.
The University of Illinois has been part and parcel of that whole experience nationally. And it’s a role we need to continue to fill to help lead the way into the world’s next generation of knowledge-based economy. So we can’t rest on our laurels. Author and humorist Will Rogers said, even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. So we can’t just sit there or rest on our laurels. We have to keep moving and evolving.
And we need to do that with high aspirations, and that’s one of the messages I seek to bring. Let’s aspire, let’s not whine, complain, look back to how it used to be, let’s aspire for the future, to reach for the brass ring, just as generations before us have done to lift the U of I to where it is today, among the world’s most accomplished and respected universities.
And I’m not sure that the internal self‑image actually matches the external regard in which the University of Illinois is held. But we need to continue to grow and develop, so we’ll set the bar on the very top rung, seeking not to be just among the best, not just to be one of the urban universities or one of the comprehensive research universities, but the very best. The model for higher education in a new era, in short defining what the land grant idea means in the 21st century, the model for others to follow. I might say the mother of land grant universities, why not?
So we will reach high and long to be the university known across the board as best in breed, the best in teaching and learning, number one. The best in engineering and medicine, the best in humanities and art, celebrating the human experience. The best in agriculture and business, the best in everything we do. The best in shared governance and in training our students to be citizens of the 21st century in civic engagement. We will foster collaboration across our campuses and beyond, firing on all cylinders to address the greatest social technical challenges of our day, and there are social technical challenges that we need to address, from health care delivery to feeding a world. And we will seek partnerships like never before with government and industry to support our teaching and research missions and the promise they hold for a better tomorrow.
But the push up the ladder comes at a time of significant cumulative stresses, as you know, state funding cuts, declining federal research spending, more competent competitive funding, the rise of online education and for-profit institutions, and emerging global universities that have heightened competition for top faculty. So this is a defining moment for us, a time when decisions that we make now will determine where we are 20, 30 and 50 years from now.
But the university has been at this kind of a crossroads before, and in my reading — and I’ve read as extensively as I could, given time, into the history — I was particularly struck by the fourth president, Edmund James, who was facing a similar kind of crossroads. And his vision, incidentally, of tenacity, which is a word Chancellor Amiridis uses a lot, I think President James had it, his vision built the platform that has fueled the university’s rise ever since, charting a course to advance scholarship and research that he rightly believed were fundamental to human progress, and his vision rings true today as it did then. Universities, he once wrote — this is my predecessor, one of them — must be the scientific arm of the government, just as the governor is the executive arm, and courts are the judicial arm. And I love this part of the quote: its laboratories must be centers of research, its halls fountains of purity, truth, honesty, and all things good and beautiful and true.
We come from that kind of a heritage. What a wonderful thing. So I have no doubt that we, too, working together can steer the university to a new era of excellence. And I’m a huge optimist. I’m a Cubs fan and in short my glass is always half full. But I do recognize in my moments of reality that bad things can happen. The challenges are a part of life. And we need to recommit daily to integrity, honesty, transparency, and goodness. But I do believe that with hard work, shared vision — and there’s nothing more powerful than shared vision — and with commitment to excellence, we can succeed and that success will breed further success.
Along the way my experience has taught me, that collaboration is the key to success and I think that’s increasingly so, and that collegiality and respectful listening are critical to decision making and I hope we can model a little bit of that kind of a discourse here today. Teamwork and mutual respect will be the way we do business on our campuses, in our shared governance processes, and with the people across our state and beyond that we are so proud to serve.
So with many challenges facing us, great legacy behind, where do we begin the next adventure? Mark Twain said the secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex and overwhelming task into small, more manageable tasks and then starting on the first one. So that’s what we’re going to do. We start here today with you here in Chicago, as we enter into this conversation.
Decisions over the next few weeks and literally over the next few weeks will influence the relationship of the University of Illinois with the State of Illinois. We need to show up in that conversation. We need to be at the table in that conversation. We need to represent the value proposition of the university as effectively as we can.
So the ongoing budgetary debate is probably Mark Twain’s first step. It represents the top priority for this leadership team and we’ve formed a task force to address university budgeting and we’re reviewing all of our programs starting with the central administration. We will recommit ourselves to responsible stewardship of resources and focus on efficiency, effectiveness and excellence. What I think of as the 3 E’s. We’re not going to trade off excellence with efficiency. We can do both.
And I’m already heavily involved in these discussions in Springfield. I’ve met with the governor, speaker, and president of the senate, key legislative leaders and members of staff now repeatedly, and I’ve taken on and appreciated the warm and supportive feeling from those leaders.
We’re advocating strongly for the essential value proposition of the University of Illinois as the engine for economic revitalization of Illinois. In addition to that budget discussion, in March the board of trustees directed me to develop a university-wide strategic plan, and that’s where you come in. I’m very excited by this effort, which will bind us together, we need more binding, and set the stage for a future with a comprehensive shared vision.
And I know I said it before, let me say it again. There’s nothing stronger than a shared vision. And that’s what I seek. Not a top down, not a blueprint imposed from outside, but something we share together. So it has to be built on your goals and aspirations, and has to take advantage of the strategic planning our campuses have already done to map their way into a new era of excellence and service. It will be built upon the key principles of shared governance and I’ve already met with the faculty senates’ leadership to seek their ideas and full engagement and I’m happy to say I’m receiving it.
And this week of outreach, my first week on the job, is just the beginning of an additional schedule set of concrete actions and activities. A leadership retreat in June is scheduled which will discuss guiding principles for decision making, what are we all about, what do we think of first when we’re posed a question. And the board of trustees’ retreat in July will develop, and that will be facilitated, will develop the initial framework of a plan which will be ready for board approval next March. There will be many opportunities for comments and involvement and drafts. And in the end my hope is that it will be our lens into the future, and I’ll be back before long for another town hall meeting to solicit your thoughts and your ideas.
In this process we will not shy away from the tough questions as we seek renewal, a new operating model, efficient, modern administrative processes, accountability and transparency, discernment in engagement and decision making, excellence in integrity and also professional development for everybody, staff, faculty, everybody who’s part of the University of Illinois family.
Above all, a university that is world leading and student and faculty centered for the place and times in which we live. And I like to say in short form — and this is kind of what I say — it’s not the economy, stupid, it’s for the students, by the faculty. That’s the short form. So as you see, we are moving aggressively forward on multiple fronts and our presence here, I hope, symbolizes, embodies, our commitment and our determination to connect the University of Illinois yet more strongly to you and this community.
So it’s time to wrap up, and I didn’t even get the signal to wrap up, but that’s good. I’m delighted to be here with you and to hop on board with this great leadership team and with all of you. We want to steer the great university towards a future that matches our dreams. Now’s the time for aspirational thinking, not hunkering down. It’s a time of challenge but in challenge we’ll bring out the best of us, we’ll show our mettle.
So thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us today and for your service and most notably your loyalty to the University of Illinois. People have been asking me several things about, you know, how I reflect on my first six months, and what has surprised you most, and what I’ve been telling people, and I believe it, is the loyalty of University of Illinois faculty, staff, students, alumni, is deep and abiding, and that’s an incredible asset and resource for the University of Illinois.
Lastly, they ask — and I meet people, they say good luck to you, and my answer, my stock answer to that is, luck’s taken care of because I’ve an Irish extract, but I could use support. And it’s wonderful to be here with our three chancellors providing that kind of visible support. So I’ll stop here, and thanks again.
(MODERATOR) Thank you for those remarks, and I’m hoping a little bit of that Irish luck will help us out at Notre Dame this upcoming year, but we’ll see.
The next person who, the voice you will hear, is Chancellor Amiridis and I’m sure all of you know who he is.
(MICHAEL AMIRIDIS) Let’s keep it short then.
(MODERATOR) I kind of like this. So when I what I was about to say is we all have a renewed sense of energy and purpose and excitement, and Mr. Excitement, Chancellor Amiridis, will be the next speaker here.
(AMIRIDIS) I’m just trying to save time. That’s all that I am doing. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us in welcoming our new president, President Killeen, or Professor Killeen, as he wants to be called, to this great city of Chicago and to the University of Illinois at Chicago.
I couldn’t help sitting here and looking at you, that it’s been a little bit over five months when I was on this stage for the first time, in the beginning of December in an incredibly scary cold day when I was rushed through the kitchen in here and I sat for the first time on the stage and I was desperately looking at an audience which was as large as this one, trying to find one familiar face to focus on, and I was so happy when I first recognized Dean Weaver, who was sitting somewhere here, whom I knew from the search committee, and Professor Christos Takoudis was sitting at the back, and he was sitting somewhere here, and finally I had two people that I could recognize.
Let me tell you what a thrill it is to see so many familiar faces in the audience today among our faculty, students and staff.
Of course, at that time I had no idea what was ahead of me, as you know by now. And during my first couple of months here on campus, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many of you, faculty, staff, students, our alumni, our community supporters, and learn, and I’m still listening and learning a lot. But I’m really happy that you have reaffirmed the reasons for which I came to UIC. You have reaffirmed our commitment to the high quality of education we provide. You have reaffirmed the diversity and yes, Mr. President, the resilience and the tenacity of our students. You have reaffirmed the ability of this campus to create and apply new knowledge and you have reaffirmed our unique strengths in health care, health sciences, and the community engagement component of this campus.
Of course, we all know that the quality of an academic institution is expressed by the quality of its people. Our faculty, our staff, our students. You have heard me many times in the last few weeks, saying that we are Chicago’s only public research university, and along with our sister institution in Urbana-Champaign, we are one of four Carnegie 1 institutions in Illinois. And since you have heard me, why do I repeat it? Because I want the president to hear this. He knows this as well.
And whether it’s discovering new ways to reduce the spread of HIV or aiding the development of night vision, technology or computer visualization technology, or whether we’re developing and applying new methods to improve our urban infrastructure, from education, to social justice, to urban planning, everything that we do here in terms of research, scholarship, and creative achievement of the people of UIC continue to improve the human condition and lead to innovative real-world applications.
I have said before that I believe that higher education is at the crossroad right now and it’s not only the change in delivery methods or the change in our financial models but it’s a fundamental change in the expectations and the attitude of the public, of the people who pay our bills, the taxpayers, our students, and our parents. And you have heard me say before that in this environment, I believe that there are going to be universities that will struggle to survive, yes, even big public universities, and there are others that are going to thrive. We are here to make sure that UI, the University of Illinois system and specifically UIC, will be among the ones that will innovate. They will put innovation in action and therefore are going to thrive in this environment. And I believe that we are very well positioned, as a system and as a university, for the future and specifically this university being in Chicago, being where the people are, where their problems are, where the businesses and the jobs are. And I’m looking forward to working with the president, working with the chancellors to make sure that we make the most out of every opportunity to strengthen our relationships and also particularly here in Chicago to expand our presence and to demonstrate our impact.
And speaking of impact, I expect it any day now, if it hasn’t come out already, we’re going to publicize an economic impact study that we have done that shows the impact of this institution in Chicago, $4 billion. Four billion dollars in economic impact in the city of Chicago. It shows the impact of our research, it shows the impact of our discoveries, in terms of our technology management office, and it shows also the amount of money that we provide in charity care to meet the critical health care needs of Chicago’s underserved populations. But let’s not forget, and I’m closing with this, that we are here as a system, and as universities, we are here because of and for our students. Many of our students, like myself, are the first in their families to go to college. Their grit, their determination to get an education, without a sense of entitlement and without an attitude, despite sometimes overwhelming obstacles, is really humbling to me, and I know for many of you, they are the reason that you continue to serve, you have chosen to work at and you continue to serve, a public university. We need to continue to place a priority on strengthening our academic programs, that is exactly the kind of strategic planning that the president is referring to, and continuing to strengthen the quality of our research.
I’m eager to work with you, Mr. President. I’m eager to work with the other two chancellors as we create the road map going forward, and I’m really happy that you could join us. Despite the clouds, I believe that the future is bright for the University of Illinois system and the future is bright for UIC. Thank you for coming again.
(MODERATOR) Thank you, Chancellor Amiridis. I’m just going to actually have Chancellor Koch from Springfield come up. Although I will tell you I had a lot of very, very good stuff for each of them, that was a lot, but, you know.
(AMIRIDIS) You have to use them now.
(SUSAN KOCH) Let’s skip these introductions because that’s going to equal a few more questions, which is really why we’re here. I want to start by saying it’s hard for me to even describe how relieved I am to be in this room with all of you today. At a very personal level, keep in mind I live in Springfield, Illinois, for me to be in a room that has other White Sox fans in it (applause) is just. I knew it. It’s fantastic. It’s fantastic (laughter). As some of you know Springfield, I am really suffering. There is one other White Sox fan in Springfield, but he’s going to be a senior this year. He’s from your community. His name is Miha. He and I sit together at all the basketball games and just hold hands. I don’t know what I’m going to do next year (laughter).
But anyway, it’s so great to be with all of you regardless, regardless.
I want to make a comment, first of all, in welcome to President Killeen. I was fortunate to get to know President Killeen fairly early on. I didn’t know about the Cubs fan until just now (laughter). But I’m going to be with him in a van for three more days so I’m going to try to fix this by Friday.
But something those of us on the search committee did learn about President Killeen, very early on that really stood out, was his extensive experience creating collaboration, across academic units, across university campuses, across disciplines, and this is something that I think we’re really hungry for in our community, not that it’s not occurring, of course, it is in many, many areas. But we really feel that there could be more. So we were very excited about that.
The other thing I wanted to say about President Killeen that I think has really resonated so well, just in these early months, and you may remember this, when he did his little barnstorming tour when he was introduced several months ago, he has dedicated his presidency to students. On my campus that really means a lot. And Tim, I want you to know it means a lot, I’m sure, to everyone here. So welcome to President Killeen and we’re looking forward to working with you.
And Dr. Amiridis, I want to take a moment also to welcome you to your position. You know, we are spending time together in a van, as I mentioned, all week long, and so we came up from Urbana yesterday. And when we got out of the van, Phyllis and I have been together for almost four years so we’ve really gotten to know each other very well, and we just kind of looked at each other and we said, we like this guy. We like this guy a lot and we know you do too. And he is a wonderful, wonderful addition to our University of Illinois community. So we’re really very, very excited about this leadership team and about the excitement that is generated and about where we’re headed.
So let me take a minute to tell you about the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. I think I already mentioned that I’ve been the chancellor there for four years, and I’m very, very excited about the momentum and the progress that we’re making at this very, very young campus. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Springfield campus being part of the University of Illinois. And if you know a little bit of the history before that, you may know that it was a very small campus known as Sangamon State University. It’s only about 44 years old. So we’re very, very young. And one of the exciting things about being part of this campus is the youth and the excitement and the feeling that we’re actually building something. And for us to be building something within the family of the University of Illinois community is something that we find very exciting.
We’re acutely focused on three strategic priorities that the board and President Easter and I have had many conversations about. We’re growing the campus in both size and reputation. We’re working very hard to acquire the best possible talent in faculty and staff, and we’re in the process of building additional facilities that will really reflect the comprehensive experience that we feel our students deserve. I’m very pleased to say we’re making great progress, growing in both reputation and size. We have almost 5, 500 students on our campus now. We’re consistently ranked as one of the top regional public campuses in the Midwest.
You may be interested to know that we’ve got an interesting mix and an unusual mix of undergraduate and graduate students, given that we’re a regional public university. Most regional publics like Western and Eastern and many other schools with directions in their names have very small graduate populations, but that’s really not the history of this particular campus. Forty-four percent of our students are graduate students and part of the reason for that is that public affairs, of course, is a very big part of our identity.
On any given day, we have over 300 graduate students that are working in paid internships throughout state government, which is very handy for me because when they graduate, they very often stay in those positions. That means that if I need to see almost anybody, one of my graduates is probably the chief of staff and they can get me right in, which is really a good thing for the University of Illinois. So as I mentioned, we are very pleased with the progress that we’re making.
And another area of tremendous growth for us has been in online education. We have about 1,600 students that are involved with degree completion programs or master’s programs in the online environment. And this is something our faculty have really focused on and we have a national reputation for the research we do in online education and for the success that we have had in online education. And in fact, one of the wonderful events we have at commencement every year, which was just this last Saturday, is a brunch for online students. And they come from everywhere to visit campus for the very first time and then to walk across the stage and shake my hand at commencement. And there’s always a moment at that event when I see a faculty member meeting their student face to face for the very first time. They’ve probably seen photos of each other, but it’s a little different when you see someone face to face, and those are great moments.
I mentioned public affairs. Computer science and business are actually our largest programs, and those are both rapidly growing programs. We’re adding new academic programs as part of our growth strategy and I wanted to specifically mention that we have a wonderful new partnership that is launching this fall, and it is a partnership with your College of Nursing, and my colleague Terry is here. Terry and I put our heads together a couple years ago and realized that it’s in UIC’s best interest and in the best interest of UIS to create a nursing program in Springfield because Springfield, the largest employer in Springfield, is not public affairs in government. It’s health care. In fact, the second Illinois medical district is in Springfield. I’ll bet you didn’t know that. So now UIC is not only going to be in the medical district in Chicago, it’s also going to be in the other one in Springfield. So we’re really excited, Terry, and it’s good to see you. We have more work to do but we have more than 120 applicants for that first year of the program already. So that’s going to be just a great thing and we’re really excited about it.
We’re deeply engaged in the central Illinois region and that is another really important part of our identity. Of course, we’re a major employer. Michael mentioned an economic impact study. We published one in January that shows that the UIS campus contributes over 176 million dollars every year to the Springfield community. That’s a lot of money in a city the size of Springfield. Of course, we are a driver of cultural and social activities. We’ve got a wonderful public radio station, the performing art center in the community is on my campus, and we’re also all about Abraham Lincoln. And I’m sure many of you have visited the presidential library. I don’t know if you are aware that we buried Mr. Lincoln again a couple weeks ago. It was the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s funeral. And the UIS campus was very, very involved in providing leadership for that event.
We had a wonderful academic symposium and some of you have probably heard Michael Burlingame speak. He is the occupant of our endowed Lincoln chair. And Dr. Burlingame knows more about Abraham Lincoln than any other living person. And if you’ve never heard him speak, I hope you will have the opportunity because he is just tremendously generous with his time and a wonderful, wonderful speaker.
So we are a growing campus. I can now say, having just been past commencement, that we have over 35,000 alumni that are all over the state and all over the world doing amazing things and contributing great leadership activities. In fact, we just got word a couple weeks ago that two of our alums won Pulitzer prizes this year. So we were very excited for them.
The one other thing I mentioned, because some of you may have read about this, that I think is very, very important and another point of pride for UIS, is that we are home to the Illinois Innocence Project. And many of you have probably followed some of these developments in the paper. Just in the last few months, we have had two exonerations. That means that we have seen two individuals walk out of prison and they had been in prison for crimes they absolutely did not commit. One of them is one of your neighbors, Christopher Abernathy from Chicago, who was walked out of the prison in Joliet after 31 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
But the real importance of the story is not the exoneration, it’s the fact that for every one of those exonerations, about 20 UIS students are deeply involved with the research and all of the activities that it takes to prove that that individual did not commit the crime. It’s something we’re very proud of and it’s something that we’ll continue well on into the future.
So I just want to say in closing that the UI system, as already been said, is an incredible asset, almost 80,000 students. Every one of those students is an economic engine, every one of those students is a future citizen, we hope, for our state, and we certainly are as Dr. Killeen says, part of the solution to this state’s challenges. I really believe as chancellor at the Springfield campus that if we stand together as a University of Illinois community, we are going to define a more positive future for our state at the same time that we’re making profound contributions around the world. Thank you so much.
(MODERATOR) Thank you for your remarks. The next voice you’ll hear will be Chancellor Wise.
(PHYLLIS WISE) Thank you so much, Rob, and let me say along with my two fellow chancellors and the president, we’re so glad that you’re here this afternoon. I want to officially welcome Dr. Killeen as the 20th president of the University of Illinois. This is his second day, and I am sure that he is pleased to finally have one job and not two. He’s been balancing his responsibilities at SUNY and his incoming responsibilities at the University of Illinois for the last six months. And I think for the last two days you’ve actually had one job that is plenty of work to do.
I think that we are seeing recurring themes amongst the three speakers that you’ve heard already, and I don’t want to repeat them. But you’ve heard the story about our being in a van for the next week through Friday, that we have really enjoyed each other’s company and really learned a lot about each other and each other’s campuses.
I think we’ve had several serious conversations about strategic planning for the university and for each of our campuses, and we’ve had some great fun and learned about each other’s sense of humor. I think that one of the things that we all learn in these jobs is that we have to learn how to laugh with each other, laugh with ourselves, and laugh at ourselves. And I think this has been an intense experience and will be for the next three days.
I think the second theme that you’ve heard is that this is all about the students. And indeed, what differentiates a university from a company, is that Starbucks’ aim is to try and produce every cup of coffee to taste like every other cup of coffee. At a university, we welcome students every year who come from the broadest spectrum of life experiences, of academic experiences, and we bring them into the caldron of our own campuses to provide them with the most transformational learning experience that we could possibly provide them so that they can be sent back into the community as leaders in their neighborhoods, in the state, in the nation, and on the planet. And we take that responsibility incredibly seriously because what we are doing is personalized education the way physicians have talked about personalized medicine. And we really mean it.
Whether or not we’re 5,500 students or 44,000 students or 35 to 40,000 students as are here on the Chicago campus, we take every single individual student at the importance of providing them with the kind of educational experience that will allow them to meet their potential once they graduate from our campuses.
And I think the other theme that you’ve heard is how critically important it is for us to recruit and retain and nourish the faculty and the staff that we recruit and that is absolutely key, because the students will not get their experiences if we don’t have the very best faculty and the very best staff. And clearly that is what we all take pride in. We just had lunch with a group of faculty here and a group of students. We had an equivalent yesterday in Urbana. We will have the same at Springfield on Friday. And to hear the stories of what the faculty are doing is nothing less than really heartwarming and to know how hard people are working, both in their own disciplines and in transdisciplinary ways, is wonderful. And as a over-the-hill, I mean, you think that we’re descending into the darkness when you become an administrator, but to know that you are being emboldened to do your administrative work because of the kind of faculty that you have is really, really rewarding.
So when it comes to higher education, I think that whether you are talking about federal policy or research funding or public opinion, certainly the University of Illinois has to be at the table. It has to be one of the loudest voices in the state because the University of Illinois system is the largest in the state. We graduate the largest number of students. We have the largest number of faculty and staff of any other public university in the State of Illinois and many other states as well. So along with Chancellor Koch and Chancellor Amiridis, we are really, really excited about working with President Killeen so that we can together be the voice for the State of Illinois.
I think there are challenges ahead, and we’ve all alluded to them. Clearly we are going through a budget situation which we have to face, which we have to make the best of, and which we have to go forward from. I think that this does mean in some ways that we have to reinvent ourselves from the 19th century land grant mission to the 21st century land grant mission. We have tremendous strategic opportunities under the leadership of a new president to redefine what a state university really is for the citizens, the role we play, not only in economic impact, but in educational impact, in global leadership. And I think that is what’s so important. We have three distinct campuses that form this system. And together we can provide a comprehensive educational and scholarly reach that covers the spectrum in a way that no one of our campuses can.
I and my campus embrace the strategic planning initiative that President Killeen talked about. I think it’s a perfect time to build on the strategic plans that each of our campuses have already developed. I think that it’s really important for us to see where we have commonalities and where we have distinctions in ways that will build on what we can do in the future.
The challenge in many ways for us is how do we leverage our individual and unique excellence as separate campuses in ways that create a greater collective impact, greater collective visibility, and greater collective respect. And so I think that the University of Illinois, the president of the University of Illinois, should be instantly recognized as the place to go when you want great and important information, when you want great and important faculty, when you want great and important students and staff, to be able to serve the state in even better ways. He should be the first call that legislators make. He should be the first call that corporate leaders make, when it comes to information that is informed, that is deep, and that is broad.
So this is a university that really deserves a seat at every table, particularly the most important tables, and I think that we together will certainly achieve that. And I look forward to working with you, President Killeen, and also Chancellor Amiridis and Chancellor Koch, to make sure that we work together in synergistic ways, and to you, President Killeen, I hope this turns out to be the most stimulating and rewarding and challenging, if not the most difficult, position you’ve had in your life.
(MODERATOR) Thank you, Chancellor Wise. So actually a little critical care doc is about to come out in me. I’m about to make a command decision because I think we don’t have the opportunities like the one we have here today. So with the permission of the panel and with the permission of the audience, we’re probably going to run a little bit over, but I think it’s actually critical to have that allotted time of 30 minutes of questions. I believe that. So that’s what we’re going to do.
So here are the rules. There are two mics that are situated at the corners. So if you have any questions, feel free to get up to the mic and in a very clear voice, sort of ask away your questions. But I actually thought I’d kick things off with a first question to President Killeen. Now, since you’ve been announced of having this job, it’s certain that you for several months have been thinking a lot about what it was going to be like when you were here and, on your second day, official day, are there any surprises?
(KILLEEN) Well, I think I alluded to a couple of the ones. I think the loyalty of the stakeholder base was surprising to me. I kind of knew a lot about the excellence and the predictability and the placement, etc., and I’ve been at another, let’s say, a Big Ten school that won’t be named, this is a remarkable kind of asset. I think that’s one of the surprises.
Another surprise has been the open door in Springfield. That’s been a surprise. I mean, it’s — the door is open. Now, maybe it’s us, we, me, I don’t know. But that’s a helpful sign, I think a healthy sign, that University of Illinois does, indeed, Chancellor Wise, have a seat at the table. We take best advantage of that. I’ve been at events that I know in another state, also not to be named, but have been very hard to conceive of or put together with the kind of attendance that is possible here. So I think those are two things,and then, of course, the students are just amazing. And your students, UIC students, so grounded, so articulate, so passionate. That shouldn’t be a surprise, I know, but I’ve noted it and I’ve definitely noticed it.
(MODERATOR) Thank you. The first question will be at Mic 1.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Hi, I’m Kimberly Hu, I’m a recent undergraduate and I will be a master’s of public health student next year, here at UIC, so my question is for the president and the chancellor so if they all answer, and that is what are three specific areas for collaboration between our campuses that you feel need the most improvement or would be the most critical to the university going forward.
(KILLEEN) It’s a great question and that’s kind of a strategic planning kind of question, one, two, three, right. Three times four, you get 12 great answers I’m sure. But let me start with one that’s kind of obvious. I think in the way health care is delivered in this country, I think we have a tremendous opportunity working across our campuses and in this state and in this city to really pioneer new models, new effective models of health care delivery that are community based, that are high tech, that are innovative and are affordable. And that’s a fantastic opportunity. So I’d say that’s the number one. Let me give one to each of the chancellors maybe rather than three because I could go on for 55 minutes, I’m a professor.
(KOCH) Well, if we’re going to talk about one, I think what I will mention, partly because it’s so fresh in my mind, we had some really interesting conversations in our meeting with faculty and students before this about Chicago and about what an amazing laboratory it is for learning, and of course you all know that. You’ve all been doing this for years. We know it too, of course, but it really seems like an opportunity for collaboration in research and learning that could be a university-wide endeavor with UIC in the lead. And I would love to see that happen.
(WISE) So I would echo what President Killeen said. I think the new college of medicine that will be established in Urbana-Champaign gives us a great opportunity to collaborate in even a broader spectrum of areas than we ever have had a chance to do before. And I really look forward to doing that with you.
(AMIRIDIS) Kimberly, let me give you first an answer that I know you would like. We need to have a joint dance marathon project on all three campuses.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Yes we do.
(AMIRIDIS) I think that we need to be more careful in developing more efficient services among the three campuses. There is cost efficiency there if we do it carefully and if we pay attention to the efficiencies.
I think on the academic side also, especially under the very tight financial environment, we need to be able to make it seamless for our students to take some unique courses, just individual courses, especially when technology is involved, and take it from campus to campus and let them flow freely. So students can take a unique course here, if we have to offer, from Urbana, and we can take one from Springfield and so on and so forth.
(KILLEEN) So I’m going to sneak in a second one, Kimberly, OK, and I think the University of Illinois can really be a leader in public policy. I’m thinking of deep authoritative, credentialed, footnoted approaches to all of the issues of the day, public policy and higher education, and taxation policy and pension policy, in transportation policy, and how we manage our natural resources. I think that’s an incredible family of opportunities, and there’s expertise on all of these campuses, deep expertise. OK. We’ll let you go.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Thank you so much.
(AMIRIDIS) And Kimberly, by the way, organized a fantastic dance marathon this year that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the children’s hospital.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Good afternoon. My name is Leonard Dominguez and number one, I really appreciate the comments of all the chancellors and the president. I really didn’t know what was going on at some of the other campuses so it’s really enlightening just to hear that small bit and I’m sure everyone else here.
I’ve got a concern, a question, and an observation. My concern is, I think, like everyone else here who has probably heard the stunning news that a fully third of the budget for U of I’s system was going to be cut. I mean, it may not end up to be that way, but just hearing that, I think, almost floored me, as an educator myself, retired educator, just incredibly stunning, considering the work and the impact, I know that, I think you’ve only begun to show what the impact of this system is to the state and to the city. So to cut a third of it is like unconscionably incredibly short sighted, of any legislature. I just can’t believe it will happen that way. So that’s my concern.
My question is considering that, even though it may not happen, may not go that far, what would be the strategic planning taking place under that kind of a shadow, that kind of a dark cloud. And the third is my suggestion, my observation, I think I’m not alone, I think everyone here will join me and millions and thousands of others will say that an idea is — this is politics, this is heavy politics, and coming from a little bit of a political background myself, I suggest that UIC Forum, wonderful place that it is, be used to gather all of our state officials, and I know that the legislators themselves, and I know the business community, is appreciative of the U of I. I think the legislators will be happy to come and say and show their support for U of I at the UIC Forum for all the community to hear them say, I will vote for funding for U of I’s support, U of I’s system. So that’s my suggestion. I think we would all here support that and tell legislators to be here and I think they would come willingly and most of them would vote for that, whatever the circumstances of the state, I think they’ll support the U of I system because they know the value and the business community also knows it. So there’s my concern, my question, and my suggestion.
(KILLEEN) Well, very good. Yeah, as you can imagine, an incoming president looking at a minus 31.5 percent number is a pretty sobering day, right? It’s — I don’t think it’s going to happen to that degree of severity, for all the reasons that you know about and all the reasons that we know about and we’re articulating. It was the beginning of a political process that’s going to be unfolding over the next few weeks. We are insisting upon being at that table during the political process, in part because of our expertise in all the things I just mentioned, but also because we bring this incredible value to the table, public good through human capital development, economic impact, etc. So we’re defining our approaches to articulate that as well as we can to the legislative community. And I’ve been in and out, and all of my colleagues have been in and out with that community.
So we’re working intensively on that to avoid the worst, but to position ourself to be effective stewards of public resources. There has been a trend, you know, not just here but across the country, in states backing away from supporting public education, and in a way it’s a sense, perhaps driven by a sense, that this is not a public good, it’s a private good, you should be paying for the added value that students get when they get degrees. I think that’s short sighted world view. I think the fact that we are graduating so many talented young people adds such inestimable value to the state, and we need to make that case cogently and often. So what will happen, what will transpire, I don’t think it will be in the worst, the worst outcome that you can imagine, but we’re taking the opportunity to look at ourselves deeply, and I think we would want to do that whether the budget was flat, growing, or shrinking. But, and I think part of the large number, the rationale for that was to get everybody’s attention and I think everybody’s attention is now there.
So I’m not trying to be comforting and Pollyanna-ish but we are going to do our part in advocating for the University of Illinois, demonstrating its worth and value and making sure by the end of the day we’re effective stewards of those resources. That’s the responsible thing to do. The other part of it is that I don’t think it’s wise for a university system, public higher education system, to be responding to kind of crisis management, ups and downs, that — or particularly downs, obviously, that are large and abrupt. So a better, more equitable planning horizon. So we are looking, with Dr. Pierre, at regulatory relief, can we reduce the regulatory burdens. There are some things, maybe reports that we write that don’t need to be written anymore, that we can adjust internally as well. So there are many factors in this equation, as you undoubtedly know, and all I can tell you is we are doing our homework on the campuses, in the departments, in the central administration, to make sure we have the appropriate responsible response.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) I understand that. Just suggesting if there’s some way that the community at large can help you, I think we’re ready, willing and able to do that.
(KILLEEN) Well, as citizens, there is an opportunity to articulate your support for public education in many venues. We’re going to be meeting next week with the presidents of the other public research, public universities in order to get that alignment, collective alignment of the leadership of all the public universities, not just the University of Illinois.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Fantastic. Thank you for that.
(MODERATOR) Question on Mic 1.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) My name is Anna Riess, and I’m a leader with the Fearless and Undocumented Alliance, and I’m here to talk about Undocumented Alliance specifically. Like all of us here, we’re here to talk about our common goals for the future, and immigration is something that affects not only the United States but the U of I school system and I know that many professors on this campus and the U of I campus and the UIS campus have shown their concern and how much they want to help. So to keep it short, how do you plan to specifically help undocumented students on your respective campuses? And this is open to anyone.
(KILLEEN) Michael, do you want to …
(AMIRIDIS) As you know, we have been in support of the proposition, and I don’t know what the fate of the proposition is to provide financial aid. I don’t know what is happening at Springfield. I just heard off the, off the record today from one of the journalists that we were talking to, that it may have been voted on or it’s about to be voted on. But we have documented our support along these lines. You may be aware of our last program and the support that it provides for all students, whether they’re documented or undocumented. We are trying to walk a fine line. On one hand, we are not, as a state agency, in a position that we can break the law. But we are trying to expand the law to the extent that we can, within the framework of the law, to provide all the support that we can provide for Latino and Latina students, whether they’re documented or undocumented.
(WISE) And I know that we’ve also been speaking with our federal delegation about the importance of a comprehensive immigration policy that would cover this as well. And Senator Durbin said to us that he did not want to break it apart. He wanted to keep it as a whole comprehensive immigration policy so we’re working with him very carefully on that.
(KILLEEN) Can I ask you your name again?
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) My name is Anna.
(KILLEEN) Anna, thank you for your leadership on this incredibly important topic. Our public education mission speaks to people, not to categories or subsets. So thank you for that question.
(MODERATOR) I think — do we have another question on Mic 1? Yes.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) All right. Hi, my name is Mateo Uribe. I’m a political science junior here at UIC. Referring to the question that my previous colleague just asked but more specifically, last January I applied to run to be the student trustee here at UIC. However, I was rejected due to the fact that I am an undocumented student because the new requirements ask for a driver’s license, proof of domicile, and Illinois voter registration card. The last requirement is actually impossible for me to apply. Here at UIC, we strive for student justice, equality, and equal representation. And we find it unjust, my colleagues and I, that there is such requirements for one to represent their students, as we are a very diverse campus filled with diverse backgrounds and opinions. Are you all supportive of changing these requirements so that all students, regardless of status, are able to apply to represent their students in the board of trustees?
(KILLEEN) Thank you, too, for your courage in standing up and asking that question.
My understanding of this particular issue may not be as deep as you would probably like, but I think there are some statutes again that need to be changed to enable that to happen. I think we have to follow our bylaws and our statutes as a public body. Sometimes we have to change our statutes and bylaws, and I guess that’s where you’re coming from. So thank you again.
(MODERATOR) Thanks so much. We have a question on Mic No. 2 and I just want to remind everybody that it’s interesting on this campus that around the water cooler and around the lab benches, I hear a lot of questions and even solutions for the university, so again it’s a friendly environment, so if you have a couple questions and we have a couple minutes still left. So if you have a burning question, please step up to the mic. Mic No. 2.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) My name is James Esparza, I’m actually a junior here at UIC. So my question revolves around also undocumented students. I’ve been working with the task force here at UIC that revolves around issues of undocumented students, and being a part of it actually, it’s opened my eyes to the solutions that — or the situation, that there’s a position specifically for undocumented students as a liaison, helping us as you may know, the task force is a group of staff and UIC students that take their time out of studies and work and it’s pretty difficult. And if we had a liaison, specifically for this position, it would be very helpful for us. And my question would be by next semester hopefully will there be a liaison helping us?
(AMIRIDIS) Let me answer this. Let me look within the — because you know there is a Latino student support center, let’s see what we can do within the center, if it’s possible, given the funding situation, given the numbers, what we have, and let me check. I cannot give you a straight answer right now, but note it, duly noted, I’ll give you an answer.
(MODERATOR) Fantastic. So we’re going to go back to Mic 2, there’s a question.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Hi, my name is Matthew McMurray. All of you spoke at some point during your discussions about the importance of undergraduate and graduate training and faculty development but I heard very little, actually no mention, of postdoctoral training. The postdoctoral communities at all of our campuses growing dramatically and across the country and yet these populations are incredibly underserved. I know here we have very, very minimal administrative support, mostly from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, and no full-time faculty — I’m sorry, no full-time administrative support. I wonder if part of your vision can include the postdoctoral training environment across these campuses to keep these equitable and keep the training of these important people growing. These are our future innovators and future faculty, they need nourishing and development.
(KILLEEN) The short answer is absolutely yes and it’s a mistake if they weren’t incorporated and included in the human capital discussion. So they should not be left out. I was at NSF for a number of years and we had a lot of growing concerns at the postdoc program, programs, plural, and the fact that they were staging positions for jobs that might not materialize and these are indeed, vitally, you know, well-endowed scholars that we need to incorporate into the academy in fundamental ways. So thank you for that comment and I’ll make sure that that’s naturally included in everything we do. Having been a post doc myself, two post docs, I know exactly what you’re talking about.
(MODERATOR) We’re going to go back to Mic 1.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Sorry, I’m a little short for this. All right. So my name is Debbie Patino. I’m also part of the Fearless Undocumented Alliance. So before I ask my question, I just want to emphasize that being an undocumented student is not just an issue that affects Latino students. It also affects people from all over the world. So what my question is, so as you probably already know, we’ve been working on a bill that would give undocumented students access to financial aid, state financial aid, so that includes grants and scholarships. So what’s happening with this bill right now is that it will be reintroduced into the General Assembly sometime in January. We plan on holding a press conference at that time. Would you be willing to publicly support, so say in front of, you know, the press, that you publicly support this bill for all students, as UIC is committed to diversity, so that means diversity of all people regardless of immigration status. Would you be willing to …
(KILLEEN) Well, I don’t know what the bill is and specifically, but let me tell you, I’m completely in support of the move to incorporate undocumented students in the public higher education system. Fully. And that’s because they’re people, they belong. We embrace them, and thanks for all of these questions. I think they’re coming from the same vantage point. And you know, I admire the passion that you bring to the table. I really do.
(AMIRIDIS) And let me add to this — I understand President Easter had supported the bill, correct?
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Yes.
(AMIRIDIS) … In the past, and I’m perfectly willing to sign and support a letter for the bill as well. So …
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Thank you so much.
(MODERATOR) Thank you so much. Thank you so much. We have a question on Mic 2.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Hi, I’m Heather Cohen. I’m a staff member in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. So in several comments and also in what sort of attracted people to President Killeen’s candidacy, people mentioned collaboration, and I think – and hopefully I’m not putting words in your mouth — a little bit of that is about interdisciplinarity, and finding new connections within disciplines that maybe haven’t had connections before. Can you talk a little more about — obviously it’s the second day on the job, you don’t know all the specifics – but talk a little bit about how you foresee operationalizing that and providing support for that in ways that might endeavor different units to start to work together and create new opportunities for students on our campuses?
(KILLEEN) That’s a great question. Thank you for that and I do believe strongly that just as a pragmatic issue, a lot of the research funding is moving in the direction of interdisciplinary team science. There are a lot of fundamental sociotechnical problems that we’re facing as a world that will require that kind of concerted interdisciplinary effort and the only place that this can take place is on campuses like this. So we have a responsibility and opportunity as well to do it really well.
We’re going to do a strategic plan and I don’t want to bring my sort of template in on day one, but I can tell you what we did in SUNY. We forged some things called networks of excellence and the concept there is that we would have nodal structures where we weren’t moving people around necessarily but providing the connective tissue to have, and the time and the opportunity to see the activities and so on. Faculty time, postdoctoral, graduate student time, is an incredibly valued component. So allowing space and time for the kinds of conversations that are required for interdisciplinary work is centrally important.
And as we get busier and busier, we want to try to reduce the bureaucratic burden of just existing on, you know, in academia. We need to find time and space, and reward mechanisms, they have to follow that too. I participated in a National Research Council study on facilitating interdisciplinary research. It’s a book. And it’s the only book of cartoons, I think, that the NRC has ever done. I was responsible for that, for the cartoons, it was my idea. I didn’t draw the cartoons. But anyway, take a look at that book. It’s full of recommendations for deans, department chairs, chancellors, everything, on facilitating interdisciplinary research. It’s a little, maybe eight years old now, but that’s something we want to be known for and I have to say that it’s one of the things I really see at the University of Illinois. It’s almost, this university breathes interdisciplinarity, which is a wonderful asset too. So we’re ahead of the curve actually, but we need to do more.
(MODERATOR) Thank you for that. This is almost working out to be perfect. We have the last six questions, and we have really a little less than 10 minutes, but I think this is actually going to work out. So we’ll take a question on Mic No. 1.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Sure, my name is Abbas Hyderi, I’m a family physician and an HIV physician and the curricular dean at the College of Medicine here in Chicago. I had the pleasure of co-chairing a task force with Mary Keehn, in the College of Applied Health Sciences, and we are working on a six-month strategic planning process on interprofessional education. The report is going to be due by the end of next month to the provost’s office and I imagine it will make its way to the highest leaderships. I really appreciate all of you talking about collaboration as part of your shared vision and then supporting, in fact, ways to achieve that.
So I would hope that you would support that effort towards that interprofessional education. To give a very brief sense of complexity in one sentence, seven health science schools, six campuses, 11 programs, three in postlicensure. We have a very unique opportunity here unlike anyplace in the country, perhaps in the world, to do something really great. So I think that would be a really nice strong support towards excellence for that. And I welcome if you have questions later on to take them. The other thing I want to push is to actually standardize the process by which we can use, leverage computer technology and I know the Springfield campus is well ahead of us in many ways and I think there’s some best practices we can learn. We’ve run into some hiccups, whether it be around, for example, tablet technology, and some of what Legal has told us is allowed, in just the Chicago campus, despite the fact that the Urbana campus or our sister campuses have pushed past that. And to me it makes sense, when something’s already been approved by Legal in one campus, why it can’t happen here. It’s a true barrier in collaboration if we can’t get on to the same platforms.
(AMIRIDIS) Let me take the first part and say that the deans in the health sciences, the faculty members of the health sciences, the places that they have been, have heard me from Day One talking about the need for interprofessional education in the health sciences. And I hope your report is going to be bold because if you’re going to be talking about one day or two days a year and you call this interprofessional education, you have failed. It is what the students demand. It’s what the profession demands. It’s how we need to prepare our students. So I’m looking forward to it and I think we’re a few years late. So please send me a bold report.
(MODERATOR) Next question on Mic 2.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Good afternoon. I’m Cindy Klein-Banai, associate chancellor for sustainability here at UIC. We recently released a report, a strategic thinking report here on campus, “To Green and Beyond: Excellence and Sustainability at UIC,” and it looked at how do we look at these issues that are pressing in the world today that integrate the environment, society, and economy together, and how do we educate our students in the future for that, develop research programs that take the opportunity for funding that’s out there for that and continue to build on, to go to green and beyond our operational initiatives and innovations. I was curious to see how you see that working at the university level and whether there’s opportunities for collaboration in that area as well.
(KILLEEN) Well, that sounds very exciting to me. I don’t know if you know much about my background, but that’s the softest of softballs, and so I have to hold myself back a little bit because even for a Cub fan, that’s, uh, (laughter).
You know, I think the world faces some social technical challenges that require universities to step forward with solutions. And those solutions, they need to be multifaceted, they need to embed social science, behavioral science, economics, biophysical research, etc. And this is inspiring to students. So this is an arena where we want to be known for not just green practices and, you know, but deep thinking in how to create resiliency in society and not just in modern western society but around the world. And they’re so intellectually rich. I know, food security, secure coastline, fresh water security, conflict avoidance. These are all the things that we’re facing and it’s not like they’re in the distance. They’re right here in front of us. So I would — both of these things are very exciting. Help us weave it into the strategic vision of the University of Illinois.
And I like, actually, and you may not like this, you may squirm, the word sustainability is a little shopworn. We could have a miserable sustainable world. We need to thrive. So I prefer thriveability actually. We need a world that is not just sustained but is actually where people can grow and live and have families and nurture healthful outcomes. And I think that is something where we need also the humanities and the arts, and the ethicists and the religion. So I want you — you have to refrain me on that one. The other topic was also likewise good. The chancellor already upped the ante, so I’m not going to do it further.Thank you.
(MODERATOR) Fantastic. We’ll have two questions on Mic One. First?
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) My name is David Hofman, I’m actually head of department of physics here at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I wanted to briefly share with you first of all something you know about that we’re very excited about, within the sciences certainly and across the campus in general, and that’s this new Advanced Chemical Technology building and my question to you was, of course, we have been thinking about it and excited about planning for this interdisciplinary building for a long time and was wondering what your thoughts were on it and if there was still a very strong support at the highest levels of the university for this facility.
(KILLEEN) Well, absolutely yes, and Michael was talking about it today extensively at one of our meetings earlier this morning.
(AMIRIDIS) With the Chicago Tribune.
(KILLEEN) And 13 years is too long to wait. What about those procurement regulations, when you think about it. So absolutely. You have my full support on that. Very exciting. We need to do that and more and have a very aggressive posture about this. Did I get that right, Michael? He’s nodding his head. Check.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) And please know you have a lot of very excited people here, as well, who are ready to take this building and bring us to the next level. So thank you.
(KILLEEN) Thank you.
(MODERATOR) Awesome. Next question on Mic One.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) I’m Don Chambers, I’m chair of the University Senates Conference and in these days of declaring vested interests, I have a vested interest in the University of Illinois, its prosperity and the prosperity of its three campuses. So one of the things I’ve listened to and watched with great admiration today is team-building in action. And I want to thank the four of you for becoming members of this incredible team. But in this room, there’s also the largest team in the history of UIC, as I look at it, and that is the collective audience. In your collective view, how can this team interact with your team to make my vested interest prosper?
(KILLEEN) That’s a great — thank you. Do you want — you know, my — you probably know my answer. You definitely know my answer. I think team building is everything. And there is such expertise and energy in this room and commitment. And that shared vision, which I tried to reiterate in my talk, is what you need. This can be, just as our undocumented group is, an unstoppable force. I think there are unstoppable forces that need to be put into play with the budget and the proposition of higher education and I’m glad you noted that, Don, because that was a deliberate intent to forge a national leadership team that can really move the dial. And of course, extending it into UIC in particular, the term I like is guiding coalition. Guiding coalitions don’t have to be all of the single strata, you know, all beings or all anything, but you can have influence thought leaders throughout an organization and if they share a vision and can guide it effectively, then it’s amazing what can happen. So I get your point and we’ll get to work on it. Phyllis, would you like to …?
(WISE) I was just going to add that in general, Bob Easter has had a monthly, what he called three plus one, that’s three chancellors, plus the president, conversation that has been very, very useful. And in terms of my campus, faculty have channeled, faculties and deans and heads have channeled both their honors and things they wanted me to convey to the president as well as their concerns, and that’s been sort of the main channel of communication. But there are all sorts of other ways of getting more directly to the president or to the chancellor.
(AMIRIDIS) And I want to localize it a little bit more, Don. I’m thrilled to here you’re talking about one team. It is important that we are one team, we are not 14 colleges or two campuses. We are one university here in Chicago and that’s important first of all to solidify this team. And I’m looking forward to working with the colleges, the two campuses, the faculty governance, the student governance, to make sure that we act, we react, and we answer as one team in every case. And you have my full commitment on this.
(MODERATOR) We’re going to take probably a couple minutes away from the reception, which I think you’re okay with that. We are in reasonable time, to be honest with you, with these questions. We have the last four questions and then we’ll be done. So on Mic 2.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Hi, my name is Lee Katman, I work for the College of Medicine and I’m a staff member. And my question is about our physical infrastructure and maintenance and how that can thrive because I’m sure that probably everyone here has been a sufferer from deferred maintenance of our buildings, of our networks, of everything that we rely upon to do the work that we’re here to do. And so I’d like to know a little bit more about your plans, our plans moving forward, so that we can thrive in this way as well.
(KILLEEN) Yeah, I think it’s very important for the students, I always start with the students, to have the kind of facilities, a workplace environment, that can allow them to succeed and to flourish. And so deferred maintenance is not something we want to live with for very long. So it’s a very important topic that you’re bringing up and I think the building that we just mentioned it’s a piece of that kind of response. We need to look to philanthropy as well as the state. We can’t just rely on single sources of resources. So we need to, we need a narrative, a compelling narrative, of excitement that’s challenging on many of these fronts. We’re talking about challenging issues here, that can help us gain the resources to do exactly what you’re talking about.
And I had talks with Michael about this, and I think you’re pointing out a real issue that we need to get to work on. I don’t have an easy answer of how it’s going to magically appear, but I think we have to, as with all these things, we have to carefully articulate, carefully plan, there has to be compelling vision. We have to have a team that’s together and not arguing in lots of different, we’ve got to show up when it’s time to show up at microphones or wherever it happens to be. And we need to be ambitious and aspirational. And then magical things can happen. That’s been my experience in my life. So thank you for that comment. And let’s work at that.
(AMIRIDIS) There’s no doubt and maybe you have heard me, others have heard me saying so, our infrastructure is tired on this campus and unfortunately we carry a very heavy mortgage right now. So we have to be creative in how we’re going to find the funds. But first we have to develop, and I asked our vice chancellor, Mr. Donovan, to start working on the plan for the campus, looking at the next five and the next 10 years, where do you want to take it? What is the vision for the physical infrastructure of this campus? And then, of course, you know a plan without resources becomes a nightmare. We have to make sure that there are resources there, and we have to be very creative on how we create what we want to do with the infrastructure of this campus.
(MODERATOR) Thank you very much. Given in the interest that we also have some students that, I think, it’s really key that they make their presentations, we’re going to take one question from Mic 1 and that will be the last question of this event and then we will transition to our presentations, student presentations.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER) Hello. My name is Danielle. I am the student trustee of this campus and I just want to start by saying thank you very sincerely to everybody who is here today. I’ve had the opportunity to work with everybody on the stage, and everybody does amazing work and is so genuine in their desire to help students and help faculty and to see this university as a system thrive, so a very sincere thank you. So along that note, we’ve been talking about how right now the university is looking, you know, how do you make processes more efficient, how do we collaborate as a university, what’s our identity and all those types of questions. And I think that that’s something that the students and alumni and faculty would really like to be a part of. So I was just wondering, how can the university community be a part of that discussion around reforming what our identity is and the ways that we can collaborate and be more efficient.
(KILLEEN) Well, I think that in essence is what we’re starting to discuss here and for the next months. I think this strategic planning process has to touch on the existential identity of the University of Illinois, in all of its component parts. And I think it’s, there will be a place, many places for that kind of discourse to happen. And we want to have all the voices in play, not just one voice. There’s not conventional wisdom, but we want to really address that. And I think – I know what you’re getting at, Danielle, and thank you for that question. It’s an important question. Because I think we need to resolve this.
We need to resolve who we are and what we, how we, work together because if we don’t, we waste a lot of psychic energy that would be better utilized going for the facilities, beating the budget drum, creating interdisciplinary spaces, all the things we’ve been talking about today. So I think it’s embedded in the planning process and we all have probably separate independent ideas of how that might go. And we need to work as a team, as a collective, for collective impact, Chancellor Wise talked about collective impact and I think that question needs some resolution because we can keep kicking that can down the road for a long time. So thank you for that question. Is that the last question?
(MODERATOR) That’s the last question.
(KILLEEN) Can I say another comment? What a great session. I don’t know if you’ve enjoyed this but it’s been fabulous, a fabulous session, wonderful questions, lots of interaction. You hung in there as we’ve been participating here. And I can’t tell you what it means to me personally to come to Chicago and have this kind of event and you’ve given me a lot of energy. Sometimes I joke, wind me up and point me in the right direction, but you’ve just wound me up. So thank you so much.
(MODERATOR) As the panel exits the stage, I’d like to say a little bit about the next student presenters. Duaa Sharfi. Bianca Leigh, Gardner Yost, Anthony Felder and Zack Filbert are all part of MAD Lab. And MAD Lab is the Medical Accelerator for Devices Lab, which is really trying to get things moved from just the concept in imagination to reality. And they are going to take a little bit of time to tell you what it is that they do and make their presentation. Again, this is funded – it’s important to note – this is funded by the College of Medicine, the Office of Technology Management and directed by Dr. Kotche. So without further ado, you guys.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) Good morning or I guess afternoon.
(MODERATOR) It’s been a long day.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) It has. It has. So as was just mentioned, we are part of the MAD Lab team, and that stands for Medical Accelerator for Devices. we’re really about working on the early end of concept development, and we work with, as well, creating business viability and assessment, specifically for medical devices. You can see the MAD Lab, as was also mentioned, sponsored by the College of Medicine, thanks to Dean Azar and also the Office of Technology Management.
So the MAD Lab is housed within the Innovation Center, which works really well, actually, in that the Innovation Center is about bringing research and education and connecting it to industry. And in that sense, it’s taking companies, educators, experts and students and bringing them together to collaborate on real-world problems and then working to find solutions to those problems together.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) So this is the team at MAD Lab, the full team. We represent part of that. We’re made up of a variety of disciplines, including business, bioengineering, industrial design and medicine. And we work collaboratively and interdisciplinarily. So you can see working in this interdisciplinary fashion allows us to really bring our own discipline-specific understandings and perspectives to the group and to the project in a very direct way. We collaborate as a group together. We meet, and this interdisciplinary work allows each discipline to sort of lend its expertise as well as balance the other disciplines.
So MAD Lab starts by accepting applications from UIC researchers, clinicians and faculty. And then we begin an eight-week process. We move very quickly. Every two weeks or so, we have goals and deadlines that we meet to help move the project along. And as we kind of wrap up at the end of those eight weeks, we basically deliver a preliminary product design so again on this early end of the product development process, we don’t have the finalized device at this point, but we really work to get something tangible that can then be taken on from there. We also provide business viability assessment and supporting documentation so the clinician or whoever’s brought the project to us, this problem, this idea, is made tangible they can really take it and have it fully developed. And we provide that strong foundation for that to happen and for them to go forward with it.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) So to illustrate how MAD lab really functions, I’m going to introduce our current project. So conducting an efficient and accurate pelvic exam is a fundamental part of delivering quality care for women. And this is a bivalve speculum. It’s the gold standard used by family physicians and gynecologists to access and view the cervix. It’s used as a diagnostic tool, it’s used for screening and for therapeutic interventions.
This is Dr. Davidson. She’s a fantastic obstetrician-gynecologist here at UIC and she came to us because she experiences some challenges accessing the cervix in a particular subset of her patient population. Sometimes the redundant vaginal tissue can obstruct the view and provide a challenging experience for the physicians, and this problem is particular to women with BMI over 30 and sometimes in women who have given multiple births or women with aberrant anatomy.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) To fully understand this problem statement, we first went out and we connected with, we shadowed and we interviewed physicians, OB/GYNs at UIC, at Northwestern and Northshore University hospitals. We also spoke with an ER physician who routinely performs pelvic examinations, a medical historian who’s written an account of the history of the speculum, and also the people who do the actual purchasing for this device in OB/GYN clinics.
Then we extended our research into the clinical academic and mainstream literature to really get a good feeling for what this device is, what devices are out there, and what patent applications have been filed for similar devices and we realized that there are some important issues we needed to consider. The first is complexity, so our device design needed to be simple and easy to use. It also needed to address the question of sterilization or cleaning. It has to be easy to sterilize or it has to be disposable. It also has to be cost efficient. So it has to be beneficial for clinics to use this from a financing perspective. And then finally and very importantly, we wanted to make sure that the design of this device would not significantly impact the patient experience in a negative manner.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) So based on our research, we actually refined our problem statement down into two distinct areas. Our first problem really focused on what we were initially presented with, which is addressing the physician’s issue. How, we asked ourselves, how we might improve the physician’s visualization of the cervix for patients with redundant tissue. But we came up with a secondary question which wasn’t being addressed and we had realized early on, was that the patient experience was quite impactful as well.
We wanted to know how we might address patient discomfort and improve their experience as patients with BMI of over 30. These patients routinely did not attend to diagnostic care, were discouraged by having a negative experience and were postponing treatments. So we recognized that that was another aspect to this story that we wanted to address.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) So with a well-defined problem statement and after we validated, we began the very laborious process of design and iteration. So to really address Dr. Davidson’s needs, we decided to refine our concept and address two key components.
The first was form. Do we want to design an entirely new device or rather an accessory to an existing device? And the second was materials based. Do we want to use a plastic disposable speculum, or do we want to design something that would be reusable and sanitizable?
As we move forward in this process while we can’t exactly describe what our final solution has been, we’ve decided to move a little bit more towards the accessory range as a solution, it’s been something that’s addressed – it’s been a good marriage of our research and fitting with the existing medical experience of the physician, while also being able to address this new and sort of emerging need that Dr. Davidson had presented us with. So from our perspective, we’re looking forward as to next steps where this project will go.
While we’ve provided this business analysis and these early prototyping and early concept aspects, there’s also the process for Dr. Davidson, so an invention disclosure, securing additional funding whether it be through the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund, the Chancellor’s Discovery Fund, or also private investors, the OCs that are local and then extending this into a deeper proof of concept, where she could validate this.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) Our current MAD Lab project works with our team of 10 to 12 graduate students right now. Through the fall and spring semesters, we’ve conducted four similar projects which have focused on different topics throughout health care, but our future and our hope is that in the fall and spring semester, we’re going to extend this program by doubling in size and taking on as many as eight different projects.
So I’d like to be able to speak, I think, on behalf of myself and also for my team to sort of talk a little bit. I think many of the chancellors have talked on these topics of the importance of doing this sort of interdisciplinary work and it’s been a great experience for us. I think at the university you work very closely in silos, you work within your department and you’re very familiar with how that process works but developing any kind of medical device is a very interdisciplinary process. You’re not ever working in your silo.
So this has been a great opportunity for all of us to meet up and work with students in other disciplines, that have other experience and all come to the table to develop, really collaboratively and sort of efficiently in a lot of ways that we can blend our resources and have that conversation together to create these solutions. It’s been a wonderful experience. If you’d like more information about MAD Lab, you’re welcome to visit us online or contact us by email. But we are happy and thankful for the experience.
(MODERATOR) And a continuation of the spirit of interdisciplinary teams, the next group you’ll hear from are a group of undergrads, Patrick and Quinn and Rotimi will tell you about their year-long curriculum involved in this Interdisciplinary Product Development and sponsored by Sears, I believe.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) Thank you, Dr. Winn. So I just want to — as he just mentioned, IPD is a year-long interdisciplinary product development course. And it has a few really unique features. For one, it gives you really unparalleled collaboration not only between students but also between a corporate entity. So for undergrads it gives us a lot of perspective of life after college. And as we’ve seen today. it really facilitates collaboration within the schools of UIC, which is something as we also saw today, is something that’s rather unparalleled and unheard of in academia.
So I’m going to go ahead and talk about the breakdown for IPD and it really starts with 30 undergraduate students like ourselves and five crossdisciplinary teams of six, and that’s students from design, engineering, medicine, as well as business.
So we are OTW, that’s Off The Wall Product Development Group. My name is Rotimi Solola, creative director, as well as marketer, from the College of Architecture and Design.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) Quinn Monforton, lead industrial designer, also from the College of Architecture, Art and Design.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) And I’m Patrick Dolan, from, I’m lead electrical engineer on the team, from the College of Engineering.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) So we have also Chelsea, Bryan and William are part of the team as well. So Sears came to us with the initial problem statement to really innovate, innovate within the home-cleaning space. And innovation at Sears is manufacturing -driven, whereas innovation at UIC is really consumer-centric. So we focused on the walls, and ceilings, surfaces and anything attached to those surfaces. We developed surveys and spoke to numerous people like yourselves to understand what cleaning habits do they have and what’s really important to the consumer. From their health, comfort, budget, pride, convenience, these are all things that the consumers shared with us and we decided to create concepts based on these, around detection, gathering, and informing the consumer.
So initially we spent a lot of time looking at what’s on our walls. But then we started to wonder, what’s inside, what about what’s in the walls. This is the whole area we never really think about. And with a little more research, we realized that approximately 70 percent of all homes in America have some degree of mold behind their walls. Yet 100 percent of the people we interviewed said they’re unwilling to live with mold in their home. (Laughter).
So what we realized is that people become, are unaware of threats they can’t see, until they become threats they can see. Looking more deeply just at mold, we realized that allergies are the fourth most chronic condition in the world, according to the World Health Organization. And these are largely caused by mold and fungi spores. Not only that, in the next 20 years it’s on pace to become the third most chronic condition in the world. And that’s not even – if you want to just look in your house for mold, you’re looking at spending roughly around 75 to 100 dollars an hour to find it, and if they do find it, and your whole house is infested, you’re looking at upwards of $25,000 to remove it.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) So our final solution was the Wall IQ. Now, in one breath, the Wall IQ is your first alert preventative early detection against hazards, non-invasive and integrated DIY user-home communication system. (Laughter and applause)
And really, the story goes like this. You have a home you really care about, but over time a build up of maybe moisture starts to happen and you might not notice this until it becomes a bigger problem. By that point (laughter) – we showed this to Sears – by that point you’re stressing out, your cost of repair is going through the roof. Really where the Wall-IQ comes in, is early detection, to detect initial moisture or mold content before it becomes a larger problem, thereby saving the consumer a lot more money.
And what was even more appealing to Sears was the market potential. This is a $61 billion industry in connected home, and going to grow within the next four to five years to $490 billion as an industry. So Sears was really excited about this as well. And we’re just going to talk a little more about the details of the Wall IQ.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) Yeah, so being something that goes in the wall, one of the first concerns was, you know, how do you get it in there. So we really devised a simple method of one hole-drill by the user, then an anchor system is placed inside. The Wall IQ probe is inserted inside and then adheres to it via magnets.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) That’s it. And this is what the Wall IQ might look like in your bathroom. It’s a small device but extremely powerful in what it can do with a series of perforations on the exterior as well as the interior to receive readings on the inside and outside the walls in your home.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) I think power consumption and battery levels were probably our main concern on the technical level when developing the Wall IQ. So we were able to, with the bevvy of sensors it has on it, extend the life of it to approximately a year before it required any battery replacement or recharging. As you can see here, there’s the bevvy of sensors listed on the left. They work both on the inside of the house and on the outside — or inside the wall and on the outside of the wall. This way, by comparing it too, we can reduce the risk of any false alarms. And here is a quick block diagram on how the project, the Wall IQ, runs.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) So from the consumer stand, and we’re wrapping up here, really, once the Wall IQ detects any type of mold, it sends the user a notification on their phone. This is not just mold but moisture content, things that build up. And once it sends the user a notification, the user can then check it out and understand that the temperatures, humidity and CO2 readings are all factors within detecting mold. It will give an average of these scores to give the user a home health score, easy-to-read number that shows the user what threshold they’re at, if it’s at certain percentage, then they know that they should probably seek help earlier rather than later and keep the cost of repair down.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) And then finally just looking at how we’re marketing it, we’re faced with this very high-tech product so we looked at really two avenues. The first one is the product avenue, putting it in the realm of high tech, people that are interested, these young tech savvy consumers, really just letting the product sell itself along with the lines of it’s a no brainer. The second experience is the same one. From our research, we found that many people know someone who had something similar happen to them, a leak that could have been taken care of months before and it turned into disaster and high cost. And that really wraps it up.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) So with that, I’m sorry. One more thing. We just wanted to share with you really briefly some of the experiences that we gained from this group and I know for myself personally, I’m a design student but I took on a lot of marketing responsibility with the team, and what that helped me to do is to understand how do I market the products that we design, not just from an aesthetic standpoint but from a cost and more deeper and crossdisciplinary standpoint as well.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) Yeah, I agree. And also just as we’ve seen today with so much emphasis and worry on collaborative efforts, this really opened my eyes to what is possible from different students at our university, especially when his school is on the complete opposite side of campus of mine and I never would have seen it otherwise.
(STUDENT PRESENTER) Yeah, I think coming from a strictly technical background, it’s been just a privilege to work with people from other colleges, other students, get their insights, understand what it’s like to work in a collaborative effort in the real world. So thank you.
(MODERATOR) So we’ve had a really good day. And I — if you’re not excited, I don’t know what will get you excited. I think that obviously the hope and the aspirations have been — and the visions have been laid out for us. And the best way to I think — I love music and the best way to sort of end the day, I think, is with music so we have the UIC jazz combo, which are students and recent grads from the UIC School of Theatre and Music, and they’re going to play a couple numbers for us. So thank you so much.
Quiet nights of quiet stars, quiet chords from my guitar
Floating on the silence that surrounds us
Quiet walks by quiet streams, Quiet thoughts and quiet dreams
And the window looking on the mountains and the sea, how lovely
This is where I want to be, here with you so close to me
Until the final flicker of life’s ember
I who was lost and lonely believing that my life was only
A bitter tragic joke, have found with you …