August 26, 2016

Dear students:

I am delighted to welcome you to our 2016-17 academic year on behalf of the University of Illinois System.

You may not realize it, but you are part of a bigger family that stretches far beyond the universities you call home. The U of I System touches literally every corner of our state, through its three universities in Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign; regional campuses in Peoria, Rockford and the Quad Cities; a major health education and clinical enterprise; and an Extension network that takes our scholarship into every county.

Our global reputation for excellence, outstanding faculty and rich culture of diversity attract top students from around the world. This fall, System-wide enrollment could again top 80,000 students, perhaps eclipsing last fall’s record and more than the population of Illinois’ 12th largest city, Bloomington.

The U of I System continues to flourish despite uncertainty over state funding, thanks to ongoing cost-saving efforts that put the needs of our students first. Students are the very core of our mission and my presidency is dedicated to all of you. Leadership, faculty and staff across the System will work to ensure an educational experience that transforms lives and provides a degree that is forever synonymous with pride, respect and opportunity.

In fact, we are committed to exceed the high expectations that brought you here, through a new System-wide Strategic Framework that will serve as our roadmap to an even brighter tomorrow. It sets ambitious goals to better serve you – in our classrooms and through programs that have already pushed our completion rates above national averages and driven strong career opportunities for our students.

I am grateful for the trust you have placed in us, and hope you take advantage of everything the University System has to offer, in your studies and beyond. What you learn here will serve you for a lifetime. Enjoy the ride, and don’t forget to have some fun along the way.

I wish you all the best and I thank you and your family for choosing the University of Illinois.