August 22 -- UIC: Reflections and Opportunities
[sent to the UIC community of faculty, staff, and students]
This week, I had the pleasure of meeting with the committee searching for a new chancellor and was impressed by its diligence, its commitment and its progress.
Our conversation included thoughts on what lies ahead for UIC and I was asked for my vision, based on what I’ve learned during my 2 ½ years as president and decades of watching from afar as a faculty member and administrator in Urbana-Champaign.
In my view, for all that UIC has already accomplished in its short history, its future is even brighter and can play a pivotal role in building a better tomorrow for Chicago, our state and our nation. Let me explain.
Increasingly, major cities are becoming the hubs that drive the economic fortunes of our world as a whole. Consider these findings by the Brookings Institution, which show that America’s top 100 metropolitan areas account for only 12 percent of the country’s land mass, but are now responsible for three-fourths of gross domestic product, 70 percent of jobs and nearly 80 percent of competitive patents. As cities go, so goes our nation and our world.
Chicago, I believe, is poised to become a leader in that emerging global cities movement, with its infrastructure, transportation network and ideal geographic location. But to get there, Chicago needs a large, world-class public university – one that provides a transformative education for large numbers of young people to supply a highly skilled, 21st century workforce; one that provides the pioneering research that fosters discovery and new waves of innovation; and one that enriches culture and awareness through training in the humanities, social and behavioral sciences that is fundamental to a robust society.
UIC can be that globally premier university. This growing campus is already the city’s largest, and its reputation for academic and research excellence has earned it a place on a prestigious list of the world’s top universities under 50 years old.
UIC’s vast potential makes the chancellor search even more critical, and I look forward to working with the committee as it continues its efforts to find a leader who can build on UIC’s capacity to serve society.
I am also grateful to Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares for her contributions to UIC’s rise during her nearly six years as chancellor, and for her leadership during a current period of change in campus administration. She and Interim Provost Rick Gislason share a passion for UIC, and the talents to move the campus forward during the transition to new leadership.
Robert A. Easter