Dear Colleagues:

It’s been a truly exciting Spring Semester for the University community, including such highlights as:

  • A visit from Vice President Joe Biden
  • The Cozad New Venture competition for student entrepreneurs
  • The 17th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival
  • A $2 M Mellon Foundation grant to support new humanities initiatives 
  • Six new members of the National Academy of Sciences
  • A celebration of Sidney Lu’s $12 M gift for an addition to the Mechanical Engineering Building
  • A record winning streak for the Illini Baseball team
  • The launch of Professor Martin Burke’s new company to commercialize his “molecule machine”
  • Three consecutive wins for Alumna Tatyana McFadden in the wheelchair races at both the Boston and London Marathons
  • And of course, preparation for commencement!

These events and achievements have all garnered varying degrees of attention and recognition, and we are indeed proud of the faculty, students, and alumni who make Illinois such a remarkable place. But I want to do more to ensure that our impact is recognized more broadly.

As I recently mentioned at the campus Town Hall meeting, we need to look carefully and think strategically about the ways in which we tell our stories of success and impact. Over the coming weeks and months, you will hear more about a project that will help us to do just that. We will be working to develop a plan that will put in place both branding concepts and organizational structures and support to leverage the individual work of our colleges and institutes and present a complete picture of this University.

This work will be collaborative, and there will be multiple opportunities to share your ideas and suggestions, including interviews, on-campus focus groups, and online surveys. I hope you will engage with this process, as it is critical that we hear from the voices of the people who know the University best – students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

When I first came to campus, we launched the Visioning Future Excellence Initiative to align our aspirations as a University and to give broad structure to our research, teaching, and public engagement efforts. This marketing project is the next step in that process. As we look to the future and consider the pressures we face to fulfill our land-grant mission, we must amplify our voices and ensure that the unique value of the University is understood, appreciated, and supported.


Phyllis M. Wise

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