URBANA — What are the biggest challenges facing society and what role can the University of Illinois play in addressing those challenges in the next 10, 20 or 50 years?
In recent months, faculty, staff and students at the university have participated in a planning process called "Visioning Future Excellence," which has involved brainstorming ideas for how the campus can tackle issues like poverty, education costs, environment and energy, disease prevention and more.
On Monday, Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Provost Ilesanmi "Ade" Adesida will host a town hall meeting to review what's happened so far with the process and outline next steps. The town hall will be at noon in the Beckman Auditorium and also will be streamed live online and archived online.
At Monday's event, the campus leaders will lay out the vision and frame the discussion for about 35 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer session with audience members.
"It's an opportunity for folks to hear some of the outcomes and some still under consideration," said Stig Lanesskog, associate provost for strategic planning and assessment.
Shortly after arriving on campus in the fall of 2011, Wise began a tour, dubbed the listening and learning tour, to learn more about the campus and its community. She met with faculty, staff and students and asked them what brought them to the university and what they see as the big issues facing the world in the coming decades. She also met with business and community leaders, alumni and others.
The follow-up to that tour was "Visioning Future Excellence." Last spring small groups met and identified pressing issues in society and how the university's strengths could be leveraged to address them. An online survey also sought input from the campus.
For each of the six themes, about 40 faculty, staff and students then met to come up with potential strategic actions.
Senior administrators then examined patterns across the different themes "and had to put a financial lens on it as well to see what is practical for us to do," Lanesskog said.
"Now what's important is gaining more clarity about what's going to happen," he said.
Participants voted on the ideas , which are organized by when they can be implemented — in 12 to 18 months or three to five years.
The recommendations range from the broad, such as "build and maintain research infrastructure, including enhanced facilities and clinical translational support," to the specific, such as "establish a social entrepreneurship major/minor," and the potentially controversial, such as "create a new mascot that may make the local community and others connect to the university in a new way."
Coming up next, Wise, Adesida along with college deans and other administrators, including Vice Chancellor for Research Peter Schiffer and Vice Provost and Associate Chancellor Mike Andrechak, will determine which projects or initiatives the campus will undertake.
Also dovetailing the "Visioning Future Excellence" process is the drafting of a new strategic plan for the campus. The last time the campus underwent a strategic planning process was after former provost Linda Katehi arrived in 2006.
Several initiatives outlined in the previous plan are still relevant today, Lanesskog said, such as increasing diversity, increasing access as it relates to providing financial aid and support to students. The previous plan also focused on undergraduate research, and that will continue to be an area of emphasis, he said.
Lanesskog said the process this time around is significantly more inclusive in terms of gathering input from people on and off campus.
A draft will be delivered to UI President Robert Easter by the end of the summer.
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