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Provost Newsletter

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


Dear Colleagues,

As the academic year draws to a close, we celebrate many achievements, honors, and awards. First, I would like to congratulate the Class of 2015. Our students are among the brightest and best in the world and I am confident that their Illinois education has equipped them well for their futures. Whether their plans include continuing their education in graduate school or pursuing career opportunities in the U.S. or abroad, our 2015 graduates join an impressive Illinois alumni group with a national and global footprint. I have no doubt that they will add to the many successes that Illinois graduates continually achieve to make a positive impact on the world we live in. Please join me in celebrating them on a job well done and wishing them success in their future endeavors.

To our faculty members, you have been the stewards of these bright, ambitious students, and you have helped turn their dreams into reality. You have taught them, mentored them and connected them with colleagues, resources, and opportunities. In addition to your teaching success, collectively this year, you have won numerous awards and honors, been granted millions of dollars in grant funding, and led research centers and scholarly endeavors at Illinois, across the nation, and around the world. This campus is grateful for your passion, your excellence, and your commitment to advancing its outstanding reputation.

To our staff members, thank you for taking care of our students and for keeping our campus running smoothly. You have demanding and important jobs spread throughout the campus and you ensure that Illinois continues to be a welcoming and vibrant place to learn. You, too, have won many awards and have brought great recognition to our campus. Your positive and reassuring interactions with students, parents, alumni, and citizens are vital in maintaining our status as a world-class university.

We also have many retiring faculty and staff who are deserving of recognition. Thank you for your years of service and for all that you have done to make Illinois a great place to work and to call home. Your dedication is very much appreciated, and I wish you the very best as you continue your life’s journey.

Included among our retiring colleagues, we bid a fond farewell to President Robert Easter as he retires from the university after more than 40 years of dedicated service. We thank him for his countless contributions, his stewardship of our great university, and his loyalty to Illinois.

Just as we have much to celebrate with the end of this academic year, we also have many new beginnings on the horizon. This week, we welcome our new president, Timothy Killeen, and in the fall, we have an incoming class of new first-year students and many new faculty members joining our ranks. I look forward to all of us working together to continue to move our institution forward.

Whether your plans for the next few months include research, travel, vacation, busy days or relaxing moments, I wish you a wonderful summer!

Thank you for all that you do to make Illinois great.

With gratitude,

Ilesanmi Adesida, Provost

Six Illinois Professors Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Congratulations to the six University of Illinois professors who have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can garner.

Renée Baillargeon, Gary Dell, Steve Granick, Taekjip Ha, Catherine Murphy and John A. Rogers are among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates announced by the Academy on April 28.

Read the full story here.

Three Illinois professors elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Congratulations to the three University of Illinois professors who have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the longest-standing honorary societies in the nation. Psychology professors J. Kathryn Bock and Gary S. Dell, and physics professor Taekjip Ha will join other new members in an induction ceremony in October in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Professors Dell and Ha are also among the professors elected to the National Academy of Sciences. 

Read the fully story here.

Vice President Joe Biden Visits Campus to Honor Illinois Student "It's On Us" Participation

On Thursday, April 23, Vice President Joe Biden visited Illinois to highlight the work of our students championing the “It’s On Us” anti-sexual assault campaign. The initiative was started by the White House last year to raise awareness about sexual assaults on college campuses. Illinois students earned special recognition and the Vice Presidential visit because of the large number who signed the "It's On Us" pledge (take the pledge at

Earlier this year, the Illinois Student Senate created public service announcement videos that encouraged students to take the “It’s On Us” pledge. These were broadcast during football games, men’s and women’s basketball games, in a YouTube promotion and through social media platforms. They organized pledge drives on the Quad with t-shirt giveaways. They encouraged students to use the hashtag #ItsOnUs to build awareness on their social media feeds. They also organized a Twitter Town Hall where students could ask questions about sexual assault. The tweets were answered by our Illinois First-Year Campus Acquaintance Rape Education (FYCARE) workshop facilitators.

View a video of Biden's remarks here.

Academic Leadership Award Recipients 
Campus Awards for Excellence in Faculty Leadership Presented

Congratulations to the inaugural recipients of the Campus Awards for Excellence in Faculty Leadership. In January of this year, the Provost’s Office announced the creation of three awards for excellence in faculty leadership that will be given annually. These awards recognize faculty members who distinguish themselves with their vision of the future and their effort to enable and promote others in shaping that future. 

Huseyin Leblebici, professor of Business Administration, received the Excellence in Faculty Mentoring Award; Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, professor and head of Kinesiology and Community Health, and Dianne Harris, professor of Landscape Architecture and director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, were selected to receive the Executive Officer Distinguished Leadership Award; and Nicholas Burbules, professor of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership, was received the Outstanding Faculty Leadership Award.

Each award recipient received a personalized commemorative plaque that was presented at the Celebration of Academic Service and Leadership Excellence on Wednesday, May 13 at the Beckman Institute. The event also included recognition of those who served as members of Provost committees this past year.  

Visit to Indonesia

At the end of April, Chancellor Wise and I visited Indonesia. While we were there, we met with Illinois alumni in the region. It is amazing and heartening to see the impact of an Illinois education throughout the world, and it was wonderful to make connections with these members of our Illinois family. We believe it was the first official visit to the country.

While we were in Jakarta, we also signed a contract with the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education. It was a great chance to publicly state our joint commitment to the advancement of educational opportunities. We are looking forward to future partnerships and collaborations. It is always wonderful to see the world-renowned reputation Illinois holds in action.

Seeking Nominations for Teaching Fellows for Spring 2016 Grand Challenge Experience Courses

Illinois has embarked on a three-year pilot derived from the Campus Conversation on Undergraduate Education. Organized through the Grand Challenge Learning Leadership Committee, the pilot involves “tracks” of interdisciplinary courses at the general education level built around three grand challenge topics: Sustainability, Energy & the Environment; Inequality & Cultural Understanding; and Health & Wellness. 

Six prototypes for an introductory Grand Challenge Experience course (GCX) are scheduled for Fall 2015. We ask for your nominations for additional GCX instructors for the official launch of these pilot courses in Spring 2016. Self-nominations are welcome. 

The ideal GCX instructor will meet all of the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated research and/or teaching interest in one of the grand challenge topics
  • Evidence of excellent teaching
  • Interest in some aspect of experiential learning (for example, community-engaged scholarship, project-based learning, design-based learning, service-learning or social practice art)
  • Department/unit head, chair or director approval for teaching in Spring 2016

All instructors will carry the title of Grand Challenge Learning Teaching Fellow. Appointments will be for Spring 2016, with the potential to repeat the course in Spring 2017 and Spring 2018. In addition to receiving all IUs for the course, the department or unit that employs the instructor will be eligible to receive a supplement of $9,000 during the pilot period. Instructors for Grand Challenge Experience courses may be tenure-stream faculty, specialized faculty, postdocs or advanced graduate students with significant teaching experience.

Please send nominations to by June 1, specifying the grand challenge topic to which the nomination applies. A few lines describing the basis for the nomination should be included, as well as, if possible, the nominee's CV. Selections will be made in July 2015.

For additional questions, please email or

Other Resources

Campus Strategic Plan • Campus Academic Calendar • Campus News

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