Stewarding EXCELLENCE @ Illinois
About this Site
Stewarding Excellence @ Illinois will provide a central source for information and communications about the Urbana-Champaign campus efforts and activities as we move forward through the current financial challenges. The site will serve as a single, easily accessed place to find current budget news, regular updates on related projects and initiatives, and an archive of our activities along the way.
We can, and will, ensure that the processes we develop to address our challenges are consultative and broadly visible to all those in our community with a vested interest in our future.
Message from the Interim Chancellor and Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
The University of Illinois is facing unprecedented fiscal challenges. We are committed to directly addressing these challenges in ways that weather the immediate storm and that best position the university for future generations.
A few years ago, Illinois launched an ambitious strategic plan. The plan pointed to priorities for our campus and it identified principles to guide our planning efforts. From the first, the planning process recognized that an old model of development by growth and addition would not serve us effectively in the future. Even five years ago, it was clear that our resources were spread too thin to sustain the academic excellence we value. It was clear then that our recurring resources were not sufficient to maintain all the activities in which we were engaged at levels of quality we are committed to uphold.
At that time we could not foresee the extraordinary financial challenges we now face. A severe world-wide recession and, more particularly, economic difficulties in our state have led to a situation in which the State of Illinois cannot meet its financial obligations to our institution.
We must now make plans based on our best, if necessarily imperfect, knowledge of financial realities we will face in academic year 2010-11 and beyond. In other words, we must continue the strategic planning process with special intensity. Strategic actions taken over the next several months will have a powerful impact on our capacity to sustain our mission as the land grant university of the State of Illinois and our stature as one of the great research universities of the world.
We have earned that stature as a great university because we generate highly skilled college graduates who are ready to take on the great challenges of the 21st Century. We are recognized and respected as a leading university around the globe because we produce research and scholarship that drive scientific discovery, that push forward the boundaries of innovative technology, and that enrich our understanding of the social and cultural worlds we inhabit. We also are a key generator of economic development for the State of Illinois. Our graduates create businesses and jobs. Our researchers create products and processes that lead to job creation and job efficiency.
Moreover, because we are a land grant university, public engagement is essential to our mission. We believe when communities, agencies, and organizations come together to address critical issues, the whole becomes greater than the parts. Today, at this point in our university’s history, we have an even greater need to engage with our constituents, to demonstrate the long-term value of this premier research university.
To ensure that we best position our campus for the future, we must take a critical look at all aspects of our operations. We must re-examine a range of structures that reach from campus administration and the large structures that organize the academic enterprise of Illinois to the small units assembled years ago to meet particular needs. And we must recognize what Interim President Ikenberry said in his January 5th note to faculty, academic professionals and staff:
Deans, department heads, chairs and faculty must strategically reassess the scope of our academic programs and search for opportunities to consolidate or cut offerings that we value but may no longer be able to afford.
This strategic review will be substantial and no doubt will involve difficult choices. It will require the careful thinking and deliberation of faculty and administrators, students and staff. And it will require a complex process that coordinates the efforts of the various project teams assembled. During all of these activities, we are committed to candid and open conversations with our campus community. Our process regularly will engage the Academic Senate and other faculty governance structures essential to our academic self-determination. It also will involve the academic and civil service staff bodies that exist on our campus.
This process is unfolding, and will continue to shape and redefine itself for at least the next two years. Not everything can be done at once. But the beginnings of this process cannot be delayed. This website will represent the process -- Stewarding Excellence @ Illinois -- at every stage of its development. Our goal is to make the process broadly visible to all who have a vested interest in it. We encourage you to consult the site regularly, and we encourage your active responses to it and to the circumstances it addresses.
We also welcome feedback on the process itself as it goes forward. We pledge to adjust and improve the process continually so that it is effective in addressing the challenges we face as an institution. This is time during which we must be decisive, but during which we also must be creative and strategic.
Interim Vice President and Chancellor Robert Easter
Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Richard Wheeler