Opening remarks, September 27, 2018 Meeting of the Board of Trustees

As prepared for delivery by President Tim Killeen

Thank you, Chairman Koritz, and good morning everyone.

It’s hard to imagine that the fall semester started just a month ago because it feels like we’ve already racked up a year’s worth of accomplishments. The flurry of exciting news has pumped even more fuel into our strong, upward momentum … and it’s my pleasure to share just a few of the highlights.


This fall brought another year of record enrollment across the U of I System, with a nearly 3 percent increase to about 85,600 students. Enrollment grew to an all-time high for the sixth straight year and the gains keep us on track to meet our ambitious five-year goal of topping 93,000 students by 2021.

We also saw system-wide increases in other key areas where we are focusing attention through our Strategic Framework, our roadmap to the future. That includes enrollment of in-state undergraduates, which also saw a 3 percent increase as we continue working to stem an out-migration to other states that is a loss for Illinois and its economy.

Our growth is rooted in ongoing efforts to promote both affordability and academic excellence … an in-state tuition freeze, a dramatic increase in financial aid, and new initiatives to expand our world-class facilities and faculty.

Faculty hiring

We added to our already extraordinary faculty ranks this fall with our first cohort from the President’s Distinguished Faculty Hiring Program. It added acclaimed experts in critical fields such as electronics innovation, cancer treatment, regenerative medicine, pain management, public finance, and public policy. It is just the start of a three-year, $60 million initiative that will add to the great faculty who define us … and make us a magnet for both students and research funding. 

We also continue working toward another new hiring program that will bring in hundreds of assistant professors over the next five years to maintain right-sized classes today and become our stars of tomorrow.


Along with enrollment, our fundraising efforts also have reached historic heights.

Last week, our partners at the Foundation announced that new business for the fiscal year that ended last June hit an all-time high of $498.5 million. That’s nearly half a billion dollars, and up about $212 million, or 75 percent, from the year before. And it’s $63 million more than the previous record high of about $435 million set in fiscal year 2013.

The Foundation’s success is tied to the historic fundraising campaigns launched last fall at each of our universities that seek to raise a combined $3.1 billion over the next five years. It is our most ambitious fundraising ever and is already over halfway toward its goal less than a year later.

The entire U of I family owes a deep debt of gratitude to our donors for their loyalty and generosity and to Jim Moore and his team at the Foundation for their leadership.


We also continue to make remarkable progress toward the Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network, the statewide initiatives we are leading to drive progress and economic development.

During the first week of classes, we hosted forums to update faculty and staff at each of our universities and lay out our priorities for the $500 million in state funding approved last spring to develop DPI and IIN. The forums also provided an opportunity to introduce Bill Sanders, whose appointment you will consider today as interim director of DPI. Bill is an award-winning educator and researcher, and served as head of Urbana’s acclaimed Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering since 2014. He will lead all facets of the operation, including planning to build the new institute, faculty and staff hiring, development of research and educational programs, and forging agreements with corporate and academic partners.We also continue to make strong headway in each of those areas, and announcements are expected later this year, so please stay tuned.


We also provided a unique opportunity for our students earlier this month after former President Obama accepted our invitation to receive the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government.  The award is presented annually by our Institute of Government and Public Affairs and we were delighted that he also agreed to deliver an on-campus address to students. The speech at Foellinger Auditorium drew students from every campus, and nearly 22,000 from here in Urbana registered for a lottery that randomly selected less than 1,000 ticket winners.


It has been a memorable beginning for the 2018-19 academic year. But there is much more to come, and we’ll get it started in just a few minutes when we roll out a newly minted report with a new round of exciting news.

My thanks to all of you for your leadership and support.