Pillar I:  An Institution of and for Our Students

Our world-class faculty, and the many staff members who support them, are entrusted with critical and enormously rewarding responsibilities to: expand our students’ understanding of life and work; equip them to be civic-minded, resourceful problem-solvers; broaden their appreciation of culture, history, and the arts; and prepare them to leave our institution ready to contribute to society. The success of the University of Illinois System in fulfilling this commitment can be seen in the lives of our nearly 700,000 alumni around the world. They are members of local school boards and heads of state; they are small business owners and lead central banks of some of the world’s largest economies; they teach our children and care for those who are ill and vulnerable; they open up our perspectives with their inventiveness and creativity.

1. Reimagine student-focused teaching and learning

Building on our breadth of excellence, we will identify innovative instructional approaches that can be brought to scale across the entire System, provide incentives for the development and testing of new learning approaches, and serve as a national model of exemplary teaching and learning.

  • Harness technology not only as a tool but also as an essential capacity for faculty and students—a “language” that informs the entire teaching and learning enterprise. Doing so is essential in a world in which ever-increasing amounts of information are created, organized, and distributed digitally.
  • Develop innovative strategies for online and hybrid learning that attract large numbers of new students who would not otherwise enroll. We will also improve timely graduation by increasing the availability of required classes.
  • Develop information and tools that make the full resources of the University (e.g., courses, research opportunities, service-learning experiences, information and data) accessible to students so that we become a next-generation model for the distributed public university system.

2. Enhance the diversity and inclusiveness of the University community

We will make the System the standard bearer for campus communities that mirror, explore, and celebrate the vast range of human experience.

  • Enhance university system by normalizing the representation of historically underrepresented people throughout the university system.
  • Set and pursue aggressive goals in both enrollment and hiring to ensure our universities are fully representative of the diverse composition of contemporary society.
  • Make investments in student affairs and in employee support and professional development resources to ensure a welcoming atmosphere for historically marginalized and underrepresented populations who join our community.
  • Continue the System’s trailblazing legacy of accessibility for people with disabilities.
  • Be an exemplar of effective and consistent efforts to ensure that minority-owned firms are fairly represented in contractual University work.
  • Build strong connections between our universities and the increasingly diverse cities in which they are located. 

3. Fully integrate global perspectives and international experience into our academic and co-curricular offerings 

We must ensure that our graduates possess cross-cultural competencies so they can be confident, productive citizens of the world. Graduates with these skills will be a critical factor in the state’s ability to attract multinational companies that seek a highly trained and globally sophisticated workforce.

  • Conduct a faculty-led identification and dissemination of practices that effectively introduce global perspectives into curricula across the disciplines.
  • Ensure that all of our students experience genuine connections to the diverse communities and cultures surrounding their universities—as well as to similar communities worldwide.
  • Expand opportunities for study and living experiences abroad, “internationalization at home” programs, and foreign language study.
  • Provide internships and other professional international experiences for our students by building on our faculty’s global connections and partnering with alumni who hold leadership positions in governments and influential organizations in the private and nonprofit sectors around the world. 

4. Grow and diversify experiential learning and career guidance

The scope of the System’s connections with employers across the state and in all sectors offers our students extraordinary opportunities to explore numerous career possibilities during their education.

  • Link our universities’ databases of internships, co-ops, service learning options, volunteer roles, and short- and long-term employment opportunities so that they can be accessed by all of our students. Students should be able to easily create online resumes/portfolios and match their skills to employers and volunteer-seeking organizations.
  • Strengthen career guidance, co-curricular activities, and experiential programs to help students find the vocation and career that is right for them.
  • Actively promote the capabilities and job preparation of our students to employers in Illinois and beyond the state’s borders.

5. Strengthen opportunities for students to excel beyond the academic sphere

Our students are driven to excel beyond the classroom: they are high achievers in academic competitions, the arts, intercollegiate athletics, volunteerism, and other public-facing endeavors. Their tenacity and inspiring accomplishments help create a highly visible “front porch” for our universities—raising our state and national profiles, energizing and unifying our universities, and strengthening relationships with local communities. Their talents also provide us with valuable opportunities to showcase the System to prospective students, alumni, and donors.

  • Invest in our auditoriums, performance venues, galleries, stadiums, arenas, fields, and courts, creating environments that are well equipped to help our students shine; attract artists, athletes, performers, and public intellectuals from around the globe; and encourage our communities’ engagement with their local System institutions.
  • Provide coaching and mentoring for students that bring out the best of their talents and character and reflect the values of the System.
  • Expand our support for volunteer and service-learning opportunities that connect students to the world beyond their universities, address real needs of the communities in which we reside, and embody the System’s commitment to the people of Illinois.

6. Promote engagement with alumni of the University of Illinois System worldwide

By strengthening connections with and among our nearly 700,000 alumni worldwide, we will engage them more fully as resources, guides, and mentors to current students and faculty, while building a proud and responsive network that graduates can connect to throughout their lives. Deeper alumni loyalty will also play an important role in promoting the University to prospective students and their families and elevating our profile with local communities, business leaders, government officials, and the media.

  • Take advantage of the enhanced connectivity offered by social media and other digital technologies to deepen local and global alumni engagement.
  • Improve the alignment among the University of Illinois Foundation, the University of Illinois Alumni Association, and the System to maximize efficiency and reach and to prepare for the next capital
    campaign.
  • Aggressively increase philanthropic investments across the University of Illinois System. In particular, develop specific strategies to increase alumni, corporate, and foundation giving
  • Enhance opportunities for alumni and students—our future alumni—to engage with our universities and provide philanthropic support. With a network of nearly 700,000 and growing, the University of Illinois alumni community, on its own, has the capacity to transform the System.