24, No. 7, Oct. 7, 2004
calls for a ‘new order of excellence’
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
Saying that public
universities are entering “a new financial environment”
and a decade of turbulence that will create “a new order of excellence
for the first time in 50 years,” Interim Chancellor Richard Herman
outlined his vision for ensuring that the Urbana campus emerges as a
pre-eminent institution during the coming decade.
Herman, who spoke at the Annual Meeting of the Faculty on Sept. 20 at
the Illini Union, said that universities will no longer be able to depend
on state support for the majority of their operating funds and to succeed
they will need to become innovative, agile risk-takers who anticipate
and lead transformative developments and marshal and reallocate resources
to create novel multidisciplinary venues for research and education.
These qualities have been a hallmark of the UI throughout its history
and will enable the university to flourish during a turbulent period,
“I propose that there is no reason for us to be content with continuing
to be a top 10 or even top five public research university. It is time
for us to move up, to become unambiguously equal to the best of our
competitors. The only aspiration that is worthy of our history is pre-eminence.
Our great strengths make it possible for us to bring within reach this
most ambitious goal in our history,” Herman said.
Herman announced a four-step process for achieving this objective:
First, he reinstituted the Faculty Excellence Program to help units
recruit outstanding, experienced faculty members who can provide scholarly
Second, Herman said he would restore funding for the Critical Research
Initiatives program, which will support groundbreaking projects and
initiatives in all fields.
Accordingly, the campus will be strengthening interdisciplinary research
centers and institutes and expanding the themes they support by establishing
“new webs of faculty connection.”
Third, the campus will focus on accelerating and deepening its internationalization,
bolstering recruitment of minority students, ensuring that undergraduate
academic and support programs foster understanding of diversity and
globalization, and recruiting a permanent leader for the Center on Democracy
in a Multiracial Society.
Fourth, the campus will place renewed emphasis on the arts and humanities,
supporting them as “full intellectual partners” in the university
and building upon achievements of the past few years.