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Provost Newsletter

News and Highlights for Faculty & Staff at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  |  November 2015


Dear Colleagues, 

As I near the end of my second month as interim provost, I have certainly gained an even greater appreciation for the depth and breadth of the excellence of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As the stories in this newsletter illustrate, that excellence is demonstrated by the many exciting initiatives underway on our campus and by the impressive awards bestowed upon our faculty.

As you’re well aware, the State of Illinois has yet to adopt a budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1. At the present time, we face a great deal of uncertainty about our FY16 resources, making it increasingly difficult to make spending decisions promptly. In addition to our ongoing efforts to use our resources as efficiently as possible, we’re doing three things in response.

First, Interim Chancellor Wilson and I are collaborating with President Killeen in communicating to our legislators and governor the damage this situation is doing to our ability to act strategically and to serve our students and the citizens of Illinois.

Second, very early in the fall we assigned prospective (reduced) FY16 budget allocations to our colleges and other units based on anticipated reductions in General Revenue Funds. While predicting what our final FY16 budget will be is very difficult, it’s critical that we move now to eliminate spending that is not absolutely necessary to delivering our teaching, research, and engagement missions.

Third, the newly formed Campus Budget Advisory Task Force (CBATF) is taking an in-depth look at where we are investing our resources, the strengths and weaknesses of our budget allocation model, and ways we can respond to sustained declines in General Revenue Funds. More information about the CBATF can be found here.

I will update the campus as we learn more about the budget situation. Thank you for your patience and dedication during these challenging times.

Best wishes,

Edward Feser
Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost

Center for Wounded Veterans Dedication Ceremony

The dedication ceremony for The Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education took place on Friday, October 2.

The Center will provide a range of transition, academic, health, and career and employment services to student veterans enrolled at the University of Illinois and their families.

Student veterans will be served through comprehensive and individualized plans that contain a blend of services, including neuropsychological testing, assistance with accessing necessary accommodations, access to assistive technology, tutorial support, career and employment development and counseling and psychological services for the veteran and his/her family.

View more information here.

Engineering to lead $18.5 million center for power optimization in mobile electronics

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems center (P.O.E.T.S.) will address the thermal and electrical challenges surrounding mobile electronics and will approach vehicle design as a single system. Partners from around the world will build new technologies like three-dimensional thermal circuitry for cooling, next-generation power converters and algorithms for coordinating the technologies automatically. They will look at those technologies from the microchip level all the way up to an entire vehicle.

Read the full story here.

Beckman Foundation awards $5 million to Beckman Institute to establish new fellowship and lecture

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, founded by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumnus Dr. Arnold O. Beckman, has presented the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology with a $5 million gift to establish the Beckman-Brown Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Annual Beckman-Brown Lecture on Interdisciplinary Science.

Read the full story here.

IPRH Update

The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) has transitioned from being part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences to a campuswide initiative. It has a new location at 919 West Illinois Street, on the fourth floor of the Levis Faculty Center. 

IPRH is currently inviting internal applications for the position of Director. In accordance with the recommendations of the Interdisciplinary Working Group for the Humanities, the Director will seek to integrate humanities scholarship across disciplines and across the campus. 

View more information about the IPRH Director position here.

College of Medicine Dean Search Committee Formed

Andreas Cangellaris, Dean of the College of Engineering and Jon Bailey, Associate Medical Director Surgical Services, Program Director OMFS Residency at Carle, have agreed to co-chair the committee to hire the inaugural dean of the College of Medicine. A complete list of the search committee members may be found here.

The national search will be supported by Witt-Kieffer, an executive search firm that specializes in healthcare and higher education. Please nominate any candidates you think would be promising prospects for this critical leadership role. 

View the full story here.

Grand Challenges Experiences Courses for Spring 2016

A campus-wide pilot program on Grand Challenge Learning will roll out more than 20 different sections of new Grand Challenge Experience courses for Spring 2016. Limited to 25 students per section, each course is taught by a faculty member and features experiential learning of some kind. Every course satisfies at least one campus General Education requirement and addresses a societal grand challenge: Health and Wellness; Inequality and Cultural Understanding; or Sustainability, Energy and the Environment.

First-year students can take these courses on their own or use them as the first step on a Grand Challenge Learning pathway that includes several components. In this way the pilot offers students the opportunity to focus some of their General Education coursework on topics they care about. Our next step will include a call for campus courses on Health, Inequality and Sustainability to be circulated at the end of this semester.

The Grand Challenge Learning pilot is one initiative growing out of the Campus Conversation on Undergraduate Education. For more information, visit our new website or email or

New University Scholars Announced

Seven new University Scholars, recognized for their comprehensive excellence in teaching, scholarship and service, have been announced this year:

  • Vikram Adve, computer science
  • Carla Cáceres, animal biology
  • Clare Haru Crowston, history
  • Leanne Knobloch, communication
  • Arden Rowell, law
  • Vijay Singh, agricultural and biological engineering
  • Emad Tajkhorshid, biochemistry and pharmacology

Read the full story here.

Awards & Honors

Congratulations to the following faculty members who have recently received awards and other honors.

Benjamin Clegg, Carol Augspurger and Natasha Capell (all in integrative biology) have been named 2015-2016 National Academies Education Fellows.
James Best (geology) has been named an American Geophysical Union fellow.
Allison Fout (chemistry) has received the Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical sciences.
Charles Gammie, (physics) has been named a 2015 Simons Fellow in theoretical physics.
Joy Harjo (creative writing, English, American Indian Studies) has won the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.
Prashant J. Kain (chemistry) has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award. 
Benita S. Katzenellenbogen
(molecular & integrative physiology) and John A. Katzenellenbogen (chemistry) have been awarded the Fred Conrad Koch Lifetime Achievement Award by the Endocrine Society.
James O’Dwyer, (plant biology) has received a Simons Foundation Investigator Award in the category mathematical modeling of living systems.
Ken Schweizer (chemistry) has received the American Chemical Society Joel Henry Hildebrand Award in the Theoretical and Experimental Chemistry of Liquids
Kelly Stephani (mechanical science and engineering) has received a NASA Early Career Faculty Award
Christina White (chemistry) has been selected as a winner of the 2016 Mukaiyama Award.

If you have recently received an award or honor, or are aware of a colleague who has, we’d like to know! Drop us a note at We’ll feature several awards and honors in future editions of the Academic Affairs update.

For information about awards with upcoming deadlines, subscribe to the Award Nomination Opportunities announcements here.

Other Resources

Campus Strategic Plan • Campus Academic Calendar • Campus News

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