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January 22, 2016

Dear friends and colleagues:

As a new semester begins, we hope there also will be a renewed focus on a state budget to restore funding for the University of Illinois and public higher education across our state.

The new year will bring legislators back to the Capitol and Gov. Bruce Rauner is preparing for his annual State of the State address later this month, more than seven months since a budget impasse shut off state funding support that is critical to our students, our academic programs and our day-to-day operations.

We continue to aggressively champion the University’s interests, and recently forged a new alliance that will bring business, labor and our sister universities together to speak as one on the importance of higher education to our state’s future.

At the same time, we also continue to look inwardly, examining our operations from top to bottom to ensure that our challenges don’t stand in the way of our land-grant mission to serve the needs of our students and our state.

I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished – freezing in-state tuition for the second straight year, holding the line on mandatory student fees for the first time in memory, new initiatives in central administration that have achieved $40 million in annual recurring savings and redirected more than $8 million toward student programs and services, and new strategies by the campuses to weather potential reductions in state funding.

Those efforts to steward resources prudently and responsibly must continue even after a state budget is finalized. We will work with the state to build a sustainable financial model that ensures affordability and opportunity for students, preserves our excellence and expands our service to the people of Illinois and our nation.

The University of Illinois is world-class today and will be world-class tomorrow: more affordable, more nimble, more transparent, more efficient, more creative, more student-centered – with integrity manifest throughout – and even stronger in leading-edge research, scholarship and learning. Working together, we will build on our rich legacy of excellence and help lead progress for generations to come.

Thank you for your service and support, and I wish you a semester filled with joy and achievement.

Sincerely,
Tim