Dear colleagues:

I hope you will join me in welcoming Barbara Wilson on her first full day as acting chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus.

Dr. Wilson brings nearly three decades of experience in public higher education, including 15 years as a faculty member and administrator in multiple roles on the Urbana campus. Her superb talent, loyalty and willingness to serve make her an ideal leader at this important moment in time.

As an educator first and foremost, she understands the intersections among the disciplines and can fully represent a comprehensive, magnificent campus. I am deeply grateful for her willingness to share her talents as acting chancellor, while continuing in her role as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, during our search for a permanent chancellor.

This change in leadership comes on the heels of difficult times. Over the last several months, the University has found itself in the news not always for its world-class excellence in teaching and research, but for a series of allegations and incidents that have been hard on all of us.

Such attention in no way reflects who we really are or the core missions that have earned us a place among the world’s most accomplished and respected universities. It misrepresents the day-in, day-out commitment of our faculty and staff, the success of our students and alumni, the loyalty of our friends and supporters, and our power to lead the way to progress.

We must, of course, learn from the lessons of our past. Our recent challenges also serve as an opportunity – a chance to reexamine our policies and processes, and rededicate ourselves to the guiding principles of integrity, transparency, service and excellence that built this great University.  It is a time to move forward – with ambition, with aspiration and with recognition of the sheer quality and substance that is the hallmark of the University of Illinois.

I am extremely optimistic about our future and have no doubt we will succeed. Often, the issue of the day may seem overwhelming, leading people to look backward rather than forward. But as I have come to know the University of Illinois in my 88 days on board, I have been struck by a common thread that runs deep among our many stakeholders and will move us ahead – enormous pride in our rich legacy and a passion for an even better tomorrow.

So, we are getting past our challenges and steering the ship on the right course, with excellence and integrity as our main sails.

My thanks again to Dr. Wilson for her leadership, and to all of you for your dedication and support. I look forward to working together as we begin a new academic year that will add to our standing as a global powerhouse – robust in service not only to its students, but to the public good, aiming high.