Dear Members of the University Community,

One of the special privileges enjoyed by me as chancellor at Illinois is welcoming all of you to the start of this new academic year. This week we will see our streets – despite a few unexpected construction delays – and residence halls and buildings filled again with our full contingent of students, faculty and staff. Whether this is your first experience at Illinois or another annual return, it is great to have you here. The personalities, ideas and excitement of our people are what make the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign the special place it is.

As I told more than 7,000 of our most recent arrivals at Friday’s New Student Convocation, we are in this together as a community. All of us have come to this one place at this one point in time. And this year at Illinois – our Sesquicentennial year – will be remembered by what we choose to do here together.

We are all part of a widely and wonderfully diverse university family. We come from more than 100 nations, we practice different religions, we bring different cultural practices, and we carry differing ideas and opinions on virtually every issue imaginable. One look through our history shows that this range of viewpoints, which is for the most part a healthy thing, has sometimes generated intense disagreement and even personal animosity.

But for 150 years now, the University of Illinois has been a place that strives, usually with great success, to bring this wealth of perspectives together in constructive ways that lead to discoveries, ideas and innovations that touch and improve every life on this planet. Of our many traditions, this is the one in which I believe we should take the most pride, and the one that I feel offers us the strongest inspiration for the choices we will make in our careers and lives.

I, with my leadership team, am committed to making this campus an easy and productive place for you to live, teach, discover and learn. I have no idea what shape these experiences will take and it is impossible to predict where they might lead. That’s up to all of you. But I know it is going to be enormously rewarding, exciting – and fun – to be a part of it.

Welcome to the new year at Illinois and I wish you all the best.


Robert J. Jones

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