On Oct.1 during Homecoming I assumed my new responsibilities as vice president of the University of Illinois and as chancellor of the Urbana campus. I want to share with you how excited and humbled I am to have the privilege to lead one of the greatest modern research universities in the world.
A few weeks before I arrived, 7,255 new freshmen began classes on this campus. Their average ACT score is an impressive 28.2. Ninety-one counties in Illinois are represented in the incoming class. That includes 118 more in-state freshmen than last year. And, because we are a global brand, we have new students from more than 100 nations – from Argentina to Zambia. When I was asked what I might want to tell you, the parents of our great students, the first thing I thought of was to express my gratitude. I want to thank you for entrusting your children to us. That trust is something that we do not take lightly. Our most important job is the education of these young adults, your daughters and sons. As a parent of a son and a daughter I can empathize with the variety of emotions that come from watching your child leave home at this critical passage of growth and separation to attend a big institution such as this one. I want to assure you that we are committed to helping them along in this passage by providing the finest education and learning environment. Our goal is nothing short of transforming their lives. But the education they will receive here is not simply a collection of data. We want your children to graduate with the ability to synthesize that information and to think critically and creatively. These abilities are crucial to a successful future because statistics show that young adults of college age today likely will have three different professions during their working lifetime. Additionally, we want their education to provide them with a richer life (in the broadest definition of that word) and help them to negotiate the global world so they can be our next generation of leaders for the next few decades. I don’t mean to overemphasize the global while sacrificing the local. The state of Illinois is already a mix of local and global in part because there is a diversity of urban and rural within its borders. It all comes together here in Champaign-Urbana. Students who attend our campus come from large urban settings and small towns to this magical, transformative place where they will have opportunities to learn not only from their teachers but also from their friends and through internships and externships in varied environments right here in Illinois. Here, what we are committed to is taking everybody’s potential and cater their learning experience to what they want to make of it and then send them out into the greater world to serve in any way they can. That’s what this great university is all about, and I am excited to be part of helping create the next generation of American leaders. Thank you again for sending your sons and daughters to our university.
Phyllis M. Wise
Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Vice President, University of Illinois