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Provost Newsletter

News and Highlights for Faculty & Staff on the Urbana-Champaign Campus  |  February 2015

winter campus

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you certainly know, the governor’s budget proposal presented to the Illinois state legislature would make some significant changes in our operations. As Chancellor Wise and President Easter have both said in messages to the campus, this is the first step in the legislative process and we will work with the governor and the members of the General Assembly to make clear the value our campus and its programs bring to every part of this state and its citizens.

At the same time, as a campus we will be called upon to engage in careful self-examination to ensure that we maintain and enhance our excellence in teaching, research and service and remain accessible and affordable to the citizens of the State of Illinois. Even as we face these financial challenges, we must continue to invest strategically, thoughtfully, and efficiently in the programs and initiatives that will ensure our pre-eminent status for the long term.

We are looking forward to welcoming a new class of students in Fall 2015. Recently, thousands of young women and men from our state and from around country and the world learned that they had been accepted here at Illinois. And now the decision to attend is in their hands. They trust us with their educational futures and their careers. We repay that trust with our commitment that the education they receive at Illinois will provide an excellent foundation for rewarding and successful lives. We continue our drive for innovation in our undergraduate education to provide students with transformative mentoring and learning inside and outside the classroom.

Faculty are central to our educational mission just as they are central to our research and service missions. Despite the financial uncertainties that we face, we must continually renew the excellence of our faculty. Therefore, we will proceed with the second round of the faculty cluster hiring initiative which is designed to build critical mass in key areas of vital importance to our state and the world.

I will share more details of the new state budget as they become clearer.

With gratitude,
Ilesanmi Adesida, Provost

Academic Senate Passes College of Medicine Proposal

On Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, the Academic Senate overwhelming approved a proposal to establish the first research-intensive college of medicine in the world created to focus expressly at the intersection of engineering, technology and big data.

This would be the first new college on the campus since the 1950s, and it would be the first medical school in the United States with a curriculum that integrates technological innovation and engineering-system approaches with medical practice. The next step in the process is for the plan to be presented to the U. of I. Board of Trustees for its approval on March 12.

View the full story here. 

Fulbright Students & Scholars
Illinois Among Top Producers of Fulbright Students and Scholars

Illinois has been named a top producer of U.S. Fulbright Students and Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Thirteen Illinois students and recent alumni were selected as Fulbright Students. This is the fifth consecutive year that Illinois has been named to the list, ranking in the top 10 among public universities and top 20 among all U.S. universities.

In addition to the Fulbright Students, six Illinois faculty members were selected as Fulbright Scholars. The program chooses 800 U.S. faculty members and professionals each year to send to 140 nations, allowing scholars to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Read the full story here.

New Initiatives from the Campus Conversation on Undergraduate Education

This semester marks the launch of seven targeted initiatives that came out of the Fall 2013 round of the Campus Conversation on Undergraduate Education as well as the Spring 2014 Working Groups that followed. A Committee on Learning Outcomes led by Professor Kelly Ritter is working on proposals to prepare the campus for accreditation, while Steve Altaner and CL Cole are co-chairing a self-study on general education curriculum with an eye toward identifying high-quality courses and best practices. Professors Clare Crowston and Chris Higgins are leading a Lecture & Discussion series to explore a wide range of new thinking on undergraduate learning, while Dr. Barbara Hancin-Bhatt and Professor Leonard Pitt chair a self-study on interdisciplinary undergrad programming. At the same time, a leadership committee chaired by Professor Lauren Goodlad will oversee the design and implementation of a three-year pilot involving Grand Challenge Learning Tracks on the topics of Sustainability, Energy & the Environment; Social Inequality & Cultural Understanding; and Health & Wellness. The pilot will begin in Fall 2015 with a small number of “first-year experience" courses on these topics.

In the months ahead, each issue of Academic Affairs will report on the progress of these initiatives as well as new programs to enhance Access and Affordability and a committee to develop campus-wide Service Learning. If you would like to learn more about the Campus Conversation on Undergraduate Education, please contact Lauren Goodlad (Provost Fellow for Undergraduate Education) or Chuck Tucker (Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education & Innovation).   

Martin Burke
Martin Burke's Technology Behind New $45 Million Startup

Congratulations to chemistry professor Martin Burke on the formation of REVOLUTION Medicines, Inc. The company has received $45 million in Series A venture capital financing to discover and develop new therapies derived from natural products.

Burke's technology is behind the medical startup. His research group breaks down complex chemicals into simple "building blocks." His group recently discovered that thousands of molecules that could be very useful as medicines can be built with only 12 different building blocks, which could dramatically speed up drug development.

Read more here.

Christos Tsitsaros selected as MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year

Congratulations to Christos Tsitsaros, a professor of piano pedagogy in the School of Music, who has been named by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) as its 2014 Distinguished Composer of the Year.

Tsitsaros's winning composition, Three Preludes for Piano Solo (A Mythical Triptych), was commissioned by the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association and was published by Hal Leonard.

Read the full story here.

Provost's Office Seeking Faculty Cluster Hiring Proposals

An important outcome from the Visioning Future Excellence process is the recognition of the vital role of cluster hiring of faculty to enhance existing strength and build critical mass of faculty excellence in a number of areas across colleges and disciplines. We are pleased to invite proposals for the second round of the cluster hiring initiative, which will focus on the following eight sub-themes selected from within the six VFE themes:

  1. Big Data
  2. Food Security and Safety
  3. Healthy Aging
  4. Migration, Diaspora and Governance
  5. Neuroscience and Cognition
  6. Human Behavior and Decision Making
  7. Smart Infrastructure
  8. Society and Technology

Please see the Call for Proposals for more details. Instructions for online submissions will be emailed to faculty members within the next four weeks. 

Shared Governance Guidelines

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a long and proud tradition of strong shared governance. Faculty members and faculty leaders in administrative roles are committed to ensuring that shared governance is practiced throughout academic programs, departments, schools, colleges and the campus. In collaboration with the Senate, we jointly developed Provost Communication No. 27, Shared Governance for Academic Units.  Communication No. 27 provides a list of guidelines to help executive officers to lead their units with collegial and collaborative consultation. Communication No. 27 can be found here.

Other Resources

Campus Strategic Plan • Campus Academic Calendar • Campus News

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