Town hall to review UI 'vision' efforts

Town hall to review UI 'vision' efforts

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.

Six themes emerged from those meetings: economic development; education; energy and environment; health and wellness; information and technology; and social equality and cultural understanding.

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.

For more information, see the online version of this story at

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Bulldogmojo wrote on April 22, 2013 at 9:04 am

Wise spends too much time on this "where will we be in 50 years" BS, when she can't guarantee the payroll for the next 50 weeks. She's just another propped up charlatan who doesn't earn her pay. She needs to get off her butt and go get the money the state owes us ASAP.

Reykjavik wrote on April 22, 2013 at 10:04 am

Few would endorse your embittered comments.  

As for being a charlatan, she is highly accomplished, as her resume makes clear.  

As for the "where will we be in 50 years" BS, some planning is better than no planning. One suspects that she understands that this exercise has a BS component, but it is just the way that big organizations do things.  I doubt that much resources are devoted to such "visioning".

As for "get off her butt and go get the money the state owes us", many senior administrators have tried to extract these resources from Springfield.  It is unclear exactly what getting off her butt would involve - screaming?  The state is financially challenged and legislators do not see UIUC as a solution to the deficit, except as something to cut with no immediate effect.

One of these days, UIUC will decide to save itself a few 10's of millions by contracting its Facilities and Services division.  This is the kind of tough analysis one hopes she is engaged with.

Bulldogmojo wrote on April 22, 2013 at 9:04 pm

White, Herman, and Hogan had credentials out the wazoo so credibility is not synonymous with letters. We are talking about a woman who sent out an all staff email asking us to thank Hogan for his service... Laughable. We are talking about a woman who pontificates about equal pay for women at the university while her labor negotiators were trying to dismantle pay structures that were designed with equitable pay for women in mind.

This is the second "Town Hall" she has had, to just paint broad strokes when there are more immediate matters to address that she was hired to solve. The faculty and staff of this University need to stop pledging their undying cult like loyalty to whoever they stick in that office. These tenured professors only "Serving" as administrators while lining their pockets with corporate consultancy dollars do not work. Obviously yet the pattern repeats. I can't imagine that there is much political will for Springfield to cough up our money if we can't stay out of the scandal sheets and if our Chancellor isn't lobbying our Governor personally to make us financially whole. If she can’t fix the problems we have now, how is she going to carve out a legacy that will be evident 50 years from now?

If Wise cannot put us on a priority footing financially with the state then how is she going to handle the rejection she gets from the private sector? The honeymoon is over. It’s time we get more for her $512,000 salary than a master of ribbon cutting ceremonies and empty rhetoric.  No more excuses!!

Lostinspace wrote on April 22, 2013 at 10:04 am

The passive faculty will let the administration do what it wishes (except reduce salaries and perks!).  Time-wasting "consultation" resulting in pious generalities gives the illusion of participation, an illusion no one really believes.  And the evolution from university as public service institution to cog in the wheel of the business world continues, the inevitable consequence of the withdrawal of public funding.