State of University of Illinois at Chicago

Chancellor Michael Amiridis

“The success of our students has always been and will continue to be our first priority,” Chancellor Michael Amiridis said March 29 during his “State of the University of Illinois at Chicago” address at the UIC Forum. ­(Photo: Jenny Fontaine)

In a formal address describing the “State of the University of Illinois at Chicago” March 29, Chancellor Michael Amiridis showcased the achievements of UIC leaders, scholars and researchers over the past year and shared his aspirations for reaching new heights of excellence in the future.

“We gather today in the midst of shadows cast from a dysfunctional budgetary and political environment to shine a bright light on the magnificent accomplishments of our students, our faculty and our staff,” Amiridis announced during his talk in the UIC Forum.

He reflected on the academic year, highlighting the record-breaking enrollment numbers set last fall despite state budget uncertainties.

“We are grateful for their vote of confidence and remain steadfast in our commitment to access and excellence,” he said.

Amiridis also noted that UIC has proposed to continue an in-state tuition freeze for the third straight year.

“The success of our students has always been and will continue to be our first priority,” he said.

For that reason, steps have been taken to enhance or improve math courses, first-year writing programs, student advising processes and the scholarship awards process. He and other leaders hope that these efforts will allow for continued success and recognition of students at the national and international level.

Other accomplishments from the past year include:

  • Creating new programs, such as U and I Care, which helps students facing personal difficulties, and UIC Impact, an initiative that allows students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world challenges, as well as completing renovations and expansions of student engagement centers.
  • The athletic department’s leadership and athletes building school spirit, giving back to communities and breaking records inside classrooms with a collective record-high 3.12 GPA and a graduation success rate above 80 percent for the 12th year.
  • Student Affairs hosting the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Breakfast, featuring Melissa Harris-Perry as the keynote speaker. The event will become a university-community tradition.
  • UIC being named one of the nation’s top 30 LGBT friendly colleges and universities by Campus Pride Index.
  • The Office of the Provost launching a Campus Conversation series to explore topics that affect students, staff and faculty members.
  • Provost Susan Poser and Vice Chancellor of Health Affairs Robert Barish starting an East Meets West series in UIC News and a monthly East + West Research Mixer series that encourages and highlights cross-campus collaborations.
  • A UI Health and UIC cobranding campaign bridging the two parts of the university.
  • Updated campus building signage better reflecting the UIC brand.

UIC has climbed in rankings, too.

“This year, UIC rose to the top 200 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings,” the chancellor said, explaining that the list includes the best 1,300 research-intensive universities in the world, which are ranked based on their core missions of teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

He thanked UIC faculty and staff for that accomplishment.

“Being ranked in the top 200 in the world simply means that our faculty and staff are among the best in the world,” he said. “And it is the same members of our community, everyone who contributes to our mission — students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends — who give me optimism for the future and conviction to move aggressively forward.”

The chancellor proposed to accelerate efforts that could improve physical infrastructures on campus using a new, flexible framework that will guide the university’s development over the next 10 years, also known as the 2017–2027 UIC Campus Master Plan Update. Created using other UIC campus planning documents, data analysis and feedback from the UIC community, the updated plan aligns with UIC’s Strategic Priorities: supporting students, advancing UIC’s national and international reputation, creating stronger relationships with Chicago and its communities and adopting an innovative business model.

“Our capital infrastructure should reflect the quality and impact of this institution,” Amiridis said. “It should be an asset that helps us attract the best faculty and students.”

Proposed projects include new spaces for student interaction, teaching and learning, research and multidisciplinary collaborations and more; a new lobby addition to the UI Hospital, an arts campus and modern-suite style housing were among the campus additions that were previewed.

Although UIC does not have the required financial capital to make all of the projects possible, the chancellor offered another solution: protect the campus from the uncertainties of state funding by diversifying revenue streams. Public-private partnerships, one recommended model, has the potential to cut construction time of campus additions in half while reducing costs, Amiridis said.

“Increased enrollments in certain areas can also help offset some of the infrastructure costs,” he said. A new agreement between the university and Shorelight Education is expected to increase recruitment and enrollment of international students from more than 100 different countries. Efforts to reorganize UIC administration and the implementation of UIC’s Climate Commitments will also continue to aid UIC’s transition towards a more sustainable business model.

Amiridis stressed that UIC will continue to push forward in the months and years ahead.

“We escape forward together with great pride for our accomplishments, with a renewed conviction to our public mission and our core values and with a spirit of innovation and excitement for our future,” he said. “Thank you for your support.”

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