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The University of Illinois System leveraged a variety of opportunities throughout the August recess to interact with federal legislators.

ACES Engages USDA Secretary, Ag Committee, and IL Delegation at Farm Progress Show

Urbana's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) had strong representation at the Farm Bill Listening Session that was held at the Farm Progress Show this week in Decatur. The session was part of a series called "Conversations in the Field," meant to guide the House Agriculture Committee's efforts as it works to reauthorize the Farm Bill. In addition to the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Rep. Mike Conaway, and ranking member Collin Peterson, Reps. Rodney Davis, Cheri Bustos, Mike Bost and Darin LaHood attended. ACES speakers included:

  • Neal Merchen, associate dean for research, who underscored the importance of supporting research, extension and related activities in the Farm Bill.
  • Jonathan Coppess, clinical assistant professor, who spoke about the significance of translating research for farmers and industry, citing examples such as the ACES-led web tool for 2014 Farm Bill program decisions.
  • Jennifer McCaffrey, assistant dean of family and consumer sciences, who spoke about how SNAP-Education programs, such as Illinois SNAP-Ed led by U of I Extension, benefits local and national economies as well as the agriculture industry by assisting families and farmers markets.

Later on that same day, Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones and ACES Dean Kim Kidwell hosted USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, Chairman Conaway, and Rep. Davis at the ACES exhibitor tent for a meet-and-greet opportunity, along with respective agricultural leadership from Illinois State University and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

UI Health Promotes Initiatives and Priorities

The UI Health Cancer Center hosted a visit from the Cuban Ministry of Health as part of an ongoing initiative between UI Health and Cuba to study maternal and child health indicators. The partnership is aimed at reducing harms, including infant mortality, in vulnerable populations. While in town, the Cuban delegation met with several Illinois delegation members, including Rep. Robin Kelly, Rep. Danny Davis, Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Bobby Rush, as well as state legislators.

Robert Winn, director of the Cancer Center, spoke at a health care field hearing that was hosted by Rep. Robin Kelly with Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Rep. Karen Bass (D-California). His remarks focused on the importance of access to quality healthcare and the work we do at UI Health to promote and provide that access.

Sen. Dick Durbin held a press conference with Chancellor Michael Amiridis, Dr. Winn, and Mile Square Health Center (MSHC) President/CEO Henry Taylor at MSHC's main facility to commemorate National Community Health Centers Awareness Week. The event received coverage from media outlets, including WGN.

UIAA Hosts Legislative Reception in Western Suburbs

On August 23, the U of I System partnered with the University of Illinois Alumni Association's Illinois Connection program to host a legislative breakfast with alumni in the Wheaton/DuPage County area. Congressman Peter Roskam, state Rep. Jeanne Ives and state Rep. David Olsen attended. Congressman Roskam delivered the keynote address, and state Reps. Olsen and Ives gave short speeches. They all fielded a variety of questions from our alumni at the end. The legislators reiterated their support for the U of I System, particularly its role as an economic engine for the State of Illinois. 

There were nearly 80 attendees, including Ed Seidel, vice president for economic development and innovation; Laura Clower, the president's chief of staff; and staff from the Office of Government Relations. UIAA Board Chair Steve Van Arsdell opened the event and introduced President Tim Killeen. OGR and Illinois Connection plan to do a similar event this month in Belleville.

Shimkus Tours Blue Waters

Rep. John Shimkus, who represents part of Champaign County, toured the National Petascale Computing Facility, which is home to the Blue Waters supercomputer. Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones, Vice Chancellor for Research Peter Schiffer and NCSA Director Bill Gropp led the tour.


Thank you,

OGR Federal Relations

Paul Weinberger and Melissa Haas