President’s Executive Leadership Program delegation visits D.C.

President Timothy Killeen recently led a delegation of more than a dozen University of Illinois officials on a two-day trip to Washington, D.C., that provided rare access to high-ranking officials across the nation’s capital.

The mid-July visit was arranged as part of the President’s Executive Leadership Program (PELP), launched last year to groom new generations of campus leaders through a crash course in the many complex issues facing public research universities, including the inner workings of state and federal government.

PLEP members visit NSF in DCFor the first time, this year’s PELP trip to Washington included meetings with top officials from key federal funding agencies and White House policymakers, as well as traditional briefings with congressional staff and leaders of national higher education and research associations.

“This was truly a unique opportunity – a chance to nurture relationships that are vital to our future, to highlight the University’s strengths and its potential to lead the way to progress, and to learn how we can help agencies attract the research funding that is critical to move our nation forward,” Killeen said.

At the National Science Foundation (NSF), the delegation met with Director France Córdova and nearly all of her assistant directors. Killeen, a former assistant director at NSF, helped arrange the afternoon of meetings, where NSF officials underscored the importance of broadening participation across disciplines to address challenges ranging from health care and energy to food and water supplies. The Urbana-Champaign campus has ranked first in NSF funding among U.S. universities for the last five years.

The delegation also met with a top official from the National Institutes of Health, where the Chicago campus ranks 46th nationally in funding, and with leadership from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who outlined how President Obama’s research agenda is developed and its priorities.

During the trip, the delegation also discussed higher education and research issues in meetings with leaders from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and met with a senior staff member from the House Science Committee's Research & Technology Subcommittee to hear about the committee's oversight and legislative functions.

The group also met with Congressman Rodney Davis and his senior staff, Senator Dick Durbin's science advisor, and staff from Senator Mark Kirk's office who are responsible for advising him on appropriations, education, and health care.

This year's PELP fellows were:

Abbas Benmamoun, vice provost for faculty affairs and academic policies in Urbana; Mike DeLorenzo, associate chancellor in Urbana; Bo Fernhall, dean of the College of Applied Health Science in Chicago; Gerard Joseph, associate provost for budget and administrative planning in Springfield; Gay Miller, a professor of pathobiology in Urbana; Kouros Mohammadian, a professor of transportation systems in Chicago; Peter Nelson, dean of the College of Engineering in Chicago; Michael Redding, executive associate chancellor for public and government affairs in Chicago; Terri Weaver, dean of the College of Nursing in Chicago; and Barbara Wilson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Urbana.

Other University officials joining the delegation were Peter Schiffer, vice chancellor for research in Urbana; Mitra Dutta, vice chancellor for research in Chicago; Vice President for Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre; Special Assistant to the President Mike Devocelle; Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Dedra Williams; Interim Director of Federal Relations Melissa Haas; and Interim Director of State Relations Jennifer Creasey.


July 2015