University of Illinois System
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Pillar III:  A Healthy Future for Illinois and the Midwest

As The Public’s University, we are committed to serving the people and industries across Illinois. We already provide pathways for transformation and opportunity by virtue of our academic excellence and our role as a major healthcare provider. But as the state’s economy and demographics continue to change, the University of Illinois System’s approach to economic development must evolve as well. At the same time, we have the opportunity to take on a leadership role among other Midwestern institutions in reinvigorating the region’s economy, making it an international magnet for investment and talent.

1. Develop and invest in our human capital

We must ensure our students graduate knowing they have the capacity to contribute to and transform their communities and the world. Individual professional success is important, and we excel at preparing our students to achieve it. But we also want them to go on to lives of consequence, shaped by an appreciation of knowledge for its own sake, lifelong learning, and a sense of responsibility for the greater good.

  • Nurture a problem-solving, entrepreneurial mindset through curricular opportunities, “maker spaces,” and other experiences. We want our students to have the confidence, skills, and flexibility to be lifelong learners and next-generation leaders of businesses, organizations, and institutions in Illinois and the nation.
  • Leverage the world-class research strengths of our universities to enhance the education of undergraduate students throughout the System by providing them direct exposure to cutting-edge research
    and scholarship.
  • Create a culture of health and well-being for our students, faculty, and staff—one they can draw on for the rest of their lives—by modeling responsible decision-making and offering easily accessible physical and mental health services.
  • Establish and coordinate a coalition of universities across the state to develop new approaches that encourage degree completion for the 1.3 million Illinois residents who have earned some college credit
    but no degree.

2. Increase the System’s power as an engine for statewide and regional economic development

Our universities, regional campuses, and Illinois Extension sites across the state are the foundation for new partnerships and approaches that catalyze economic growth.

  • Explore the creation of a new entity: the University of Illinois Innovation Network, a set of virtually connected clusters across the state. We will begin with public-private partnerships in Peoria, Rockford, Springfield, the Quad Cities, and Southern Illinois—communities and regions that are home to System members and/ or key industries in the Illinois economy. These partnerships will be dedicated to promoting local development, renewing communities, and improving schools.
  • Leverage our centers of education, research, and innovation to promote economic development. We know from experience that the presence of a System entity can spark an influx of new residents,along with housing, retail, and commercial development. By listening and responding to local needs, we can become an integral partner in helping communities become true “innovation cities.”
  • Contribute to the economic, social, and political health and vitality of the greater Chicago area through the System’s research, teaching,service, and partnership with local governments, businesses, and community and civic organizations.
  • Reengineer Illinois Extension to reach more residents and industries regardless of their location. We will also expand Illinois Extension services in healthcare and health education, youth development, education, financial literacy, digital literacy, career planning, food/ nutrition, agriculture (both rural and urban), and other areas that focus on improving human lives and building stronger communities.
  • Ensure that Illinois agriculture and agribusiness can seize the opportunities of a booming global food market where Illinois’ food and agricultural exports have nearly doubled in dollar value since 2007. To continue this growth, the System will collaborate with the statewide FARM Illinois association to advance its recommendations for improving the sustainability of the state’s agriculture infrastructure and creating a globally resonant brand for Illinois products.
  • Scout Illinois’ private, public, and nonprofit sectors to identify potential partners who can work with our faculty to accelerate the translation and commercialization of ideas.

3. Create national models for professional training, affordability, access, and positive outcomes in healthcare

We offer the state a remarkable health sciences and healthcare ecosystem of expertise, clinical care, and resources. We will forge new connections among the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, our medical campuses in Chicago, Peoria, Rockford,and the Quad Cities, the newly created engineering-based Carle Illinois College of Medicine, and all System colleges involved in health-related research.

  • Develop and nurture partnerships with other Illinois academic institutions, healthcare providers, and community organizations in order to improve the quality of life and equity of care for communities we serve.
  • Partner with the System’s major academic affiliate institutions (e.g., OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria) at our regional campuses to enhance patient care, conduct research, and educate medical students, residents, nurses, and other providers.
  • Test and implement care-delivery models that emphasize population health and high-quality, cost-effective care
  • Develop outreach and education programs to increase patient access to primary, specialty, and acute care services in our Chicago hospital and outpatient clinical sites.
  • Leverage our academic and clinical resources and expertise to work for health equity.

4. Improve college readiness and outcomes by building strong vertical and horizontal connections with other educational institutions in Illinois

By establishing relationships vertically with K–12 schools and community colleges and horizontally with the state’s other public colleges and universities, we will enhance access and success for all students in the state.

  • Lead an initiative among System universities and regional campuses, the state’s other public universities, community colleges, and K-12 schools to strengthen the college pipeline and establish
    practices that improve college preparation and completion.
  • Redouble efforts to foster a more predictable, streamlined transfer protocol for students at Illinois community colleges and public baccalaureate universities.

5. Promote strong civic engagement among students, faculty, staff, and residents of Illinois

To create an engaged citizenry for the state, nation, and world, we will encourage critical discussion of civic values and responsibilities, build enduring connections with community organizations across Illinois, and connect the people of the System with opportunities for service.

  • Explore the establishment of a Lincoln Institute of Government that would draw together and coordinate the work of centers and programs across the System that focus on public policy research
    and civic leadership, including, for example, the System’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs, UIS’ Center for State Policy and Leadership and its Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program, and UIC’s Institute for Health Research and Policy.
  • Explore how the activities of the System—coursework and pedagogy, research experiences, service-learning, co-curricular activity—can be better connected to civic engagement and civic education.
  • Build on existing System-wide strengths—and our proud legacy of acting in the public interest—to make University of Illinois the go-to source for unbiased public policy research and application on key issues where we have deep expertise, such as criminal justice, K–12 education, economic development, and technological innovation.