Click here to see this online
Provost Newsletter

News and Highlights for Faculty & Staff on the Urbana-Champaign Campus  |  January 2016


Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you rested and re-energized for a great spring semester. Despite the continuing state budget stalemate, we look ahead to this semester with optimism and excitement about all we will collectively accomplish.

Working with the Office of the President, our campus has been in constant communication with state leaders to reiterate the value of our university to Illinois. My office is also working closely with the Council of Deans and the Campus Budget Advisory Task Force to plan for possible reduced state appropriations in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, as well as to review our budgeting system and approach for likely reforms.

We face much uncertainty with respect to our state appropriation, not just in the short run, but also in the long run given fiscal conditions in the State of Illinois. Provided we are proactive in response, our university has the fundamental excellence, outstanding students and faculty, talented staff, robust demand, and diversified funding streams to adjust successfully and remain right where we belong: on the leading edge of teaching, research, and engagement.

You should be aware that our budget planning guidance for the FY17 cycle is now being distributed to units across the campus, both academic and administrative. Colleges and schools are being asked to propose FY17 unit budget plans with reductions of three, five, and seven percent that could address anticipated significant cuts in the general state revenue portion of our overall operating budget. Administrative units are planning for possible reductions of five, seven, and nine percent. We don’t know if changes in our state appropriation will necessitate reductions at those levels and we are confident that various sources of revenue growth will help partially offset reductions. We are in a planning phase at this stage. Our budget guidance asks units to plan creatively and proactively not just for the coming year but, more importantly, for an emerging higher education funding climate in Illinois that portends less reliance on state support.

I want to emphasize that although it makes sense to give units broadly uniform planning guidance, the campus won’t be making reductions in an “across the board” manner. We will make any necessary spending reductions in strategic and transparent ways that protect our core academic mission. We will also invest in areas of greatest promise and opportunity.

I certainly wish I could offer a more inspiring welcome back message. However, I want to be clear that the budget stalemate in Springfield will not drive this university. All across campus, we are exploring new ideas, creating new knowledge, and providing an enriching and life-changing education to our many thousands of students. We will continue to do so, long after the present crisis has passed.

Best wishes,

Edward Feser

Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost

Humanities Without Walls initiative receives $4.2 million Mellon grant renewal

The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities has been awarded a $4.2 million grant renewal from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its Humanities Without Walls initiative.

Humanities Without Walls is a 15-member consortium of universities that aims to foster collaborative research and explore the contributions of humanities in the workplace. The initiative is based at IPRH at the University of Illinois, and it began two years ago with a $3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Read the full story here.

Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center to have permanent building

By 2018, after nearly five decades of using temporary campus facilities, the U. of I.'s Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center will finally have a permanent building of its own.

The $4.9 million project, recently announced by Interim Chancellor Barbara J. Wilson, will be funded with a mix of donations, student fees and institutional funds.

Read the full story here.

Five people with Illinois connections named to Forbes' list of 30 Under 30

Five people with Illinois ties are among those named to the Forbes list of 30 Under 30. They are Phil Ansell (aerospace engineering), Qian Chen (materials science and engineering), Nisha Chittal (finance), Scott Daigle (alumnus, IntelliWheels cofounder) and Patrick Slade (alumnus, Psyonic cofounder.) The list highlights the 30 brightest game changers, movers and makers under the age of 30 in 20 different fields.

Read more here.

Seven Illinois professors named to 2015 Thomas Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list

Seven University of Illinois researchers have been named to the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list for 2015. The list is based on an analysis of journal article publication and citation data, an objective measure of a researcher’s influence over the past 12 years.

The highly cited Illinois researchers this year are Donald Ort (plant biology), Tami Bond (civil and environmental engineering), Stephen Long (plant biology and crop sciences), Yi Lu (chemistry), Richard Masel (electrical and computer engineering), Catherine Murphy (chemistry) and John Rogers (materials science and engineering.)

Read the full story here

Awards & Achievements

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

John Paul Allain (nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering) has been awarded a $1.1 million Fusion Energy Sciences grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Antony Augoustakis (classics) has received an Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Society for Classical Studies.
Eugene Avrutin (history) has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for 2016-2017 for his project, “The Velizh Affair: Jews and Christians in a 19th-Century Russian Border Town.”
Ken Cuno (history) has won the 2015 Albert Hourani Book Award from the Middle East Studies for Association for his book, Modernizing Marriage: Family, Ideology, and Law in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Egypt.
Brian DeMarco, Vidya Madhavan and Matthias Grosse Perdekamp (all in physics) have been elected Fellows of the American Physical Society.
Marshall L. Garrick (head psychiatrist and unit manager of McKinley Health Center’s Mental Health Clinic) has been recognized by the Illinois Psychiatric Society with its Innovation in Patient Care award.
Yuhang Hu (mechanical science and engineering) has been awarded a Haythornthwaite Foundation Research Initiation Grant from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Mariana Kersh (mechanical science and engineering) has been awarded a three-year grant from Zimmer Biomet.
John Lambros (aerospace engineering) has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Mechanics.
Klara Nahrstedt (computer science) has been named to the list “10 Women in Networking/Communications That You Should Know” by Networking Networking Women, a program of SIGMOBILE.
Karen Sears (animal biology) has won the Lynn Martin Award for Distinguished Women Teachers.
Lui Sha (computer science) has been named co-recipient of the 2016 Simon Ramo Medal by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Paris Smaragdis (computer science) has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.

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

Share on social media: