Remarks, July 19, 2018 Meeting of the Board of Trustees

As prepared for delivery by President Tim Killeen

Thank you, Chairman Koritz, and good morning everyone.

I did a little research and found evidence tracing back thousands of years to Plato himself that there is no harm in repeating a good thing. So it is my pleasure to again share the happy news that the U of I System received its second straight full-year appropriation in the new state budget that was approved shortly after our last meeting. It marked a first for me--the first on-time budget in my three years with the U of I System. Far more importantly, it signals a much-needed return of stability and reinvestment in our three universities and in public higher education across the state.

I firmly believe that you share the credit, along with all of the faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends who rose up to support us during the state’s two-year budget impasse. Your stories showed legislators the real-life value of a U of I degree--in your own lives and in your collective impact on the public good, and the threats to Illinois’ future if funding reductions and uncertainty continued to chase our best-and-brightest students to other states. Your real-world examples and your unrelenting advocacy helped shepherd through a 2019 budget that was more than just timely.

It also provides a 2 percent increase in appropriations for day-to-day operations, and our first state capital funding in nearly a decade.

Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network

The capital budget includes a half-billion dollars to support development of the Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network, the groundbreaking economic development initiatives we are leading to make Illinois the nexus of a new generation of business and job creation.

The generous funding is an incredible vote of confidence for the power of our research and a tremendous investment in making the initiatives a reality, creating a world-class incubator of discovery that promises to bring Silicon Valley 2.0 here to Champaign-Urbana, to Chicago, to Springfield, and to every region of our state. The initiatives will make Illinois home to the next-generation industries and jobs that keep our best and brightest here after they graduate, using their talents to build our tax base and lift our communities.

I am delighted with the progress we have made since DPI and IIN were first announced in October.

Last month, during a news conference with Governor Rauner, Mayor Emanuel and legislative leaders, we announced a formal agreement with our third academic partner and first international partner – Tel Aviv University.
The university is Israel’s largest and most comprehensive. It also is ranked among the world’s most innovative universities and will join our inaugural partners, the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, to help shape our programs and mission.

Similar academic partnerships are currently being developed with the largest university in Latin America, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and Mexico's leading private university, Tech de Monterrey.

At the news conference, we also announced our first corporate partnership, with Peoria-based OSF HealthCare, one of Illinois’ top healthcare providers. The partnership will build on OSF’s existing relationship with the UIC Innovation Center, and will sponsor an interdisciplinary course that will be offered at UIC this fall. The course will bring together students from across the system … from medicine, design, engineering and business … to work toward creating a system that provides connected, precision-guided health care delivery for Illinois.

Those are just a few highlights of our efforts, and we are on track to complete an implementation plan later this year that will include a timetable for opening and other details of both DPI and IIN.

We also are moving ahead on other key initiatives.

Other key initiatives

In June, we announced the first seven professors have been hired under a new program launched last year to build on our global standing as a leader in education and innovation. The President’s Distinguished Faculty Hiring Program was created to recruit faculty of national and international distinction in a broad range of disciplines who will expand the exceptional scholarship that attracts students and research funding to our universities. The first cohort will add acclaimed experts in electronics innovation, cancer research and treatment, stem cell and regenerative medicine, palliative care and pain management, public budgeting and finance, program and policy evaluation, and the history of science. It is just the start of a three-year, $60 million initiative that will expand the ranks of great faculty who define us--through the groundbreaking scholarship that carves a unique identity and distinct reputation for excellence.

We also continue working toward the other priorities set out in our Strategic Framework, the ambitious roadmap you approved to guide us to an even brighter future.

We are developing the other new hiring program that I outlined at our last meeting. The program will bring in hundreds of assistant professors over the next five years to maintain right-sized classes today and become our stars of tomorrow. We will have that plan ready later this year, along with one you authorized to continue adding to the $1.2 billion in facilities improvements that we have achieved in the last five years.

We also keep sharpening our pencils as we look ahead to student costs for the 2019-2020 academic year, in hopes of extending affordability efforts that include holding in-state tuition flat for four straight years.

And we also are working with university leadership on a new initiative that will invest in the arts and humanities. The two-year initiative will provide grants to promote the strength and excellence of our programs in the arts and humanities and to celebrate their critical contributions to citizenship and to the creativity of our workforce in every economic sector. I want to thank Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs Barb Wilson for her outstanding efforts in bringing this idea to fruition. We’ll have more when the program is formally announced next month.

Speaking of the arts and humanities, I would like to thank two inaugural Presidential Fellows, Antoinette Burton, the Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Lisa Lee, Director of the School of Art & Art History at University of Illinois at Chicago, for their excellent service as Presidential Fellows in furthering the ideals set forth in the Strategic Framework. Both will be completing their service to the program this fall.

As I conclude, we will continue to explore new projects as we keep stretching toward our goal to make the U of I System the very model for higher education in the 21st century--the place where students turn to build their future and where the world turns for solutions.

Thank you for your leadership and support.