President, chancellor discuss university’s future at town hall

President Timothy Killeen & Chancellor Michael Amiridis

University President Timothy Killeen (left) and UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis address the future of the university at a town hall Monday.  Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin


President Timothy Killeen and Chancellor Michael Amiridis spoke to a UIC audience Monday about the future of the University of Illinois.

“Both Tim and I are relatively new in our jobs,” Amiridis said at a strategic town hall in Student Center East, one of a series held on each of the three university campuses.

“It’s important that we set up the priorities and set directions in which we move.”

Killeen said most strategic plans “collect dust on bookshelves — we don’t want that.” The university’s plan should, rather, “be compelling, read quickly and represent who we are and what we want to be.”

Although Illinois has yet to pass a budget for fiscal year 2016, “I believe the budget will support state education,” Killeen said. “It will take two or three months, so we have to be a little stoic.”

Returning to the university’s goals, Killeen said, “We must model excellence in education, research, service, civic engagement and economic development, with a resolutely student-centered approach.”

Amiridis said, “We’ve been talking about growing our enrollment, opening the doors a bit wider.”

Also wider is the geographical scope of the university’s research output, he said. “One-third of articles in science and technology are authored internationally.”


Seeking ‘a 30,000-foot view of the institution’

John Braunstein, a director of New York-based AKA/Strategy Consultants, which works with educational and other nonprofits, explained the goals of the university’s strategic plan.

The plan will describe what the university wants to do in the next five or 10 years, he said. Work began over the summer and the goal is completion by the end of the academic year.

“There has been enormous information gathering,” Braunstein said, describing the process as “somewhere between a vacuum cleaner and a sponge. There have been dozens and dozens of interviews.”

The product will include “widespread engagement and actionable steps forward, a 30,000-foot view of the institution,” he said.

Faculty members and students mentioned different concerns, including the need for more collaboration with students and faculty on other campuses.

Dick Simpson, professor of political science, said the strategic plan should take notice of the fact that “the Chicago metro region has more population and greater wealth than most nations of the world.”

“Civic engagement has to be central to any plan,” Simpson said.


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