January 22, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome back, and I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

As I thought about the semester just finished, I wanted to make sure none of us overlook the true magnitude and impact of the work that was accomplished. Across the University, a record 78,000-plus students were taught, a great deal of pioneering scholarship important to a myriad of audiences was completed, tens of thousands of patients received life-changing treatment through our hospital and clinics, and the needs of citizens across Illinois were served through countless programs that reach out into literally every corner of our state.

Those a just a few of our many successes, all rooted in more than 35,000 faculty, academic and non-academic staff, and graduate assistants who go to work every day on our three campuses and add to our long legacy of excellence through their dedication, passion and vision. My thanks to all of you!

Now, turning to the months ahead, there are several important initiatives to be done in my office, including a recently completed a review of University Administration. The review is aimed at containing costs and improving service, and we will continue to regularly monitor our operations in UA and on campuses to steward our resources wisely.

Over the past few months, the University and University of Illinois Foundation also have developed an ambitious roadmap focused on systematically increasing the scale and effectiveness of our fundraising efforts. In an era of declining public resources, the role of private philanthropy is increasingly critical to our success as a world-class institution. I am personally committed to doing everything possible to make this effort successful.

As we look to the future, it is also crucial that we clearly define the overarching goals of the University – our mission for the 21st century and how to achieve it. The Board of Trustees will begin that conversation in a day-long retreat on Jan. 22, where there will be discussion of strategies for advancing health-related education, research and patient services across the breadth of the three campuses and regional sites of the University. In addition to trustees, participants will include senior leadership from each campus, deans and some faculty members from the University Senates Conference. Another Board retreat is scheduled for July, focusing on strategic direction in the other major areas of University activity.

Just three years from now, in 2017, the University will mark the sesquicentennial of its founding. When the time comes, we will celebrate not only a past that has made the University of Illinois a world leader in education and innovation, but also the decisions we are making today that will extend our land-grant mission to serve new generations.

Thank you again for your commitment and loyalty to this great University, and I wish you success in this spring semester.


Robert A. Easter