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Faculty/Staff Newsletter • October 30, 2009
Fall greetings to all!
At mid-semester, there are many noteworthy achievements to recognize across LAS. During Foundation Weekend, we had the distinct pleasure of welcoming alum Wayne Koonce back to campus (BS ’71, geography), and celebrating Wayne’s generous estate bequest. Wayne credits Illinois for a sound academic and intellectual base for his career in law and business, and particularly highlights the importance of his study abroad experience in broadening his horizons beyond Illinois.
Wayne’s story is similar to those of our four remarkable LAS Alumni Achievement Award recipients, honored during Homecoming, such as Lynn Hartmann, AB English, now researcher, clinician, and leader at Mayo Clinic. Homecoming weekend also brought a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of a significant laboratory remodeling project in biochemistry, and the opportunity to reconnect with LAS alums during our annual pre-game event. The career achievements of our truly extraordinary alums, and our celebratory events, serve as reminders of the far-reaching impact of a liberal arts and sciences education at the University of Illinois, as vital in today’s world as at any time in our past.
Also in October, the Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies was formally launched, housed within the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, International Programs and Studies, and LAS. Created through support from Jorge Paulo Lemann, this new institute situates Illinois in a position of visible leadership in scholarship related to Brazil across a wide range of disciplines. It was our privilege to host the Lemann family and other Brazilian leaders in government, policy and education on campus for the inauguration of this center of intellectual and scholarly activity.
You have likely heard that Illinois, similar to other states and peer institutions throughout the nation, now prepares for a difficult financial situation in the coming months. On October 1, Interim Provost Bob Easter and members of his team convened an open discussion with LAS Unit Executive Officers regarding the institution’s financial situation. Provost Easter and his team asked LAS leadership to begin to evaluate our expenditures, in light of our critical missions, and plan for operational and/or organizational changes that would best protect our core functions of scholarship, education, and outreach if reductions in state funding occur.
Creative ideas are needed, and innovative models must be rewarded, insofar as they can advance the core aims of our units, the college, and the campus. LAS begins this process from a position of strength, central to the campus’ core missions; we are optimistic that we will together design and enact models that allow the college to emerge from the present challenges with a continuing role as a vibrant intellectual and educational leader. Thoughtful scholars and leaders are at work to develop the best possible plans in this context. The Executive Committee is articulating principles and parameters to guide financial planning decisions, and our Strategic Advisory Team of 12 unit leaders is working through detailed analysis of data and will help form recommendations. As additional information is available, we will work with your units to share ideas and plans, and to ensure your involvement.
In the coming weeks, we will take stories of your achievements—of LAS excellence in scholarship, education, and outreach—“on the road” with presentations to donors and friends in San Francisco, Scottsdale, and Houston.
Despite many changes in the institution this semester, I have observed enduring quality and remarkable stability in our educational and scholarly endeavors. Thank you for your role in the vibrancy of LAS, and your willingness to continue to contribute at the highest possible levels during challenging times.
Ruth Watkins, Dean