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Edwards remarks, IIN and DPI funding announcement

As prepared for delivery for Don Edwards, Chairman, University of Illinois Board of Trustees

It is an honor to join Curt, Mayor Lightfoot, President Killeen and all of you in adding my thanks to Governor Pritzker for supporting these initiatives that hold such promise for the future of this city and our state.

Since taking office just over a year ago, Governor Pritzker has been a champion for not just DPI and IIN, but for public higher education across our state. His leadership has been absolutely critical in supporting our students and keeping our doors open wide to the opportunities that transform lives and supply the next-generation workforce that lifts our state and our communities. He also shares our vision that the economy of tomorrow will be built on technology—on making Illinois a global center of innovation that creates new businesses, attracts new companies and provides jobs that keep our best young talent here.

Ever since I graduated from the U of I in Urbana-Champaign over 30 years ago, I have believed we need to build an even stronger technology presence in Chicago, connecting more students and faculty to businesses here and to the city’s growing tech ecosystem. Now, with Governor Pritzker’s leadership, we are making it happen. And I am delighted to be a part of it.

When Governor Pritzker appointed me to our board, we had a conversation about trustee giving. He had served as a trustee for his alma mater, Northwestern, where he and MK have been incredibly generous, and wondered why trustees at public universities, including U of I, have historically not been as involved in giving.I told the governor then that, as a longtime donor, I had plans to change that.

And today, my wife Anne and I are thrilled to make this $10 million gift to DPI and IIN and to the university that transformed our lives.

Like Governor Pritzker, I hope and believe that today’s events will catalyze even more support from U of I alumni and from business and technology leaders. DPI and IIN have the potential to truly reinvent our economy here in Chicago and across Illinois.

They are built on the same core values that have made academic programs at our universities among the world’s best.They will foster world-class excellence, at scale. Hundreds of leading researchers will work with thousands of students and countless businesses, investors and entrepreneurs. They will foster the breakthrough innovation and the entrepreneurial know-how that will create new products, new businesses, new jobs and a new era of prosperity for this city, our state, the Midwest and beyond.

That commitment to excellence at scale is one of the things, among many, that differentiates the U of I System and I couldn’t be more proud of that fact.

My thanks again to Governor Pritzker and the legislature for this crucial investment in our future, and to Mayor Lightfoot for her support.