President Timothy Killeen presents plan for University system


By Lilly Mashayek

University President Timothy Killeen and Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson outlined the University system’s strategic plan and framework for the University in years to come at a town hall meeting Monday.

Wilson emphasized the fact that the plan aligns all three University campuses — Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign. The plan is expected to be finalized in April.

“The campus plan will dovetail and work side by side with this overarching plan,” she said.

President Killeen echoed WIlson’s sentiment.

“This is not a plan to displace or even adjust or tweak the existing UIUC strategic plan … it’s a chapeau within which all of the University plans should fit,” he said.

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He added that the creation of the plan is heavily reliant on input from the University community – including students, faculty and staff – and that their input is “incredibly important.” He said there has been input from more than 500 community members thus far.

The President’s plan, built upon four key pillars, intends to shift the University onto a path that will establish it as a leader both inside and outside of Illinois. Killeen said part of this plan is the revitalization of the Illinois economy.

“There’s a recognition that Illinois desperately needs a revitalization of its economy,” he said. “Not just in the city of Chicago, but across the state … with two percent of the GDP we’re here, and we’re big.”

The plan also calls for creating a diverse, multicultural community, with an improved recruitment strategy.

“Let’s get serious about enrollment and connect it to the student experience,” he said. “I personally think there’s some synergies across our universities here to take advantage of.”

After the President’s presentation, the floor was opened to questions and comments from the audience. Some of the concerns addressed by the audience were that of racial and cultural tensions, research funding, faculty contracts and the University as a global leader.

Laura Saldivar, LAS senator in the Illinois Student Senate, read a statement from Student Body President Mitch Dickey that offered eight suggestions to amend the plan. The suggestions included improving mental health and sexual assault resources, and working to integrate international students into the community.

Faculty members expressed that they would like to see the University make a larger effort to support knowledge as an intrinsic value – meaning acknowledging that all research and knowledge is important, whether it generates a profit or not.

“I think one of the problems we face, and this is not just here, is that it comes down to dollars and cents too often,” Killeen said. “You can do it with examples showing how a system enterprise delivers public good(s) through what the people who come through do with their lives, and it’s not a trivial challenge.”

Others wanted to know how they planned to resolve racial tensions present on the University campuses.

“I do think it’s a necessary requirement for us to take this on as an institutional priority,” Killeen said. “I think it’s got a lot of aspects to it, it’s not just counting people, but it’s providing this welcoming, nurturing effort.”

Wilson also addressed the plan for picking a University mascot that will replace Chief Illiniwek, which is being implemented by the Student Senate.

“I’m very optimistic about this, it won’t come without some challenges and I think one of the biggest challenges we have to engage in is education,” she said. “In my mind, what we have to do is quit making people feel guilty about the past and just move forward.”

More specific to the Urbana campus, faculty members wanted to see the plan address non-tenured faculty and contract negotiations. One faculty member from the English Department said he would like the plan to more clearly distinguish between types of faculty members at the University and define how they fit within the plan.

“The University’s made up of a lot of people doing a lot of work, and professional development has to be a core principal,” Killeen said.

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