Click here to see this online
test image

U of I trustees approve strategic framework
System-wide roadmap seeks to expand contributions to the public good

May 19, 2016

SPRINGFIELD – The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved a strategic framework Thursday to guide the state’s largest University system for the next decade and build on a nearly 150-year legacy of serving students, the state and the public good.           

The framework is a roadmap to the future that reaffirms the University’s core missions – teaching, research, public service and economic development – and sets ambitious, high-aspiration goals to expand its excellence and impact, said President Tim Killeen, who was directed by the board to develop the system-wide vision plan before taking office a year ago.

“The future of this University and this state are inextricably linked,” Killeen said. “This strategic framework is all about rooting ourselves in the public good – setting the bar even higher to provide life-changing opportunities for new generations of students and to lead a new era of progress and prosperity for the people of Illinois.”

He said the framework’s title, “The Public’s University: Optimizing Impact for the Public Good,” reflects both the University’s founding as an original land-grant university and its bedrock commitment to the needs of students and the state.

The 16-page framework approved by the board is a “living document,” subject to further revisions to hone its vision and goals. The framework will augment strategic plans already in place on the University’s three main campuses and its three regional campuses, setting priorities that will help campuses achieve their individual goals and identifying areas where they can work collectively to support the system’s overarching mission.

System-wide priorities are outlined under four key “pillars” that detail the University’s long-range vision and goals. They are:

  • An unwavering commitment to students, diversity and inclusiveness, providing a world-class education that transforms their lives and prepares them to excel in an increasingly global workplace.
  • A culture that fosters collaboration and research discovery to solve society’s greatest challenges, paving the way for innovation that moves society forward.
  • A commitment to a healthy future for Illinois and the Midwest, supplying the highly skilled workforce and pioneering innovation that are crucial to success and economic growth in the 21st century.
  • A vision that creates tomorrow’s university today, building a new financial model that supports world-class quality while also ensuring student affordability, access and completion.

“For all the University of Illinois has achieved, this framework ensures that its best days are yet to come,” Killeen said. “It promises new opportunities for students and new breakthroughs in scholarship and discovery that will move our state and nation forward – at scales and levels of excellence beyond what we have done in the past.”

The strategic framework was developed through a 15-month process that included a 21-member steering committee representing faculty and staff, students, alumni and donors. Input from across the University was collected through town hall meetings on each campus, focus groups, one-on-one sessions with Killeen and campus leaders and on a University website.

Implementation of the strategic framework will be discussed during a Board of Trustees retreat in July. The full report is online.

Acting UIS dean

The board approved the appointment of veteran faculty member and administrator Lucia Vazquez as acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS).

Vazquez will also continue to serve as associate dean of the college, a post she has held since 2013. She joined UIS as a professor of biology in 2001, after holding positions at Cornell University, the University of California-Riverside and the National Institute of Adult Education in Mexico. She earned her doctorate from Cornell and an undergraduate degree from National University of Mexico.

Her appointment is effective June 1, when current Dean James Ermatinger becomes interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost of the Springfield campus. Trustees approved Ermatinger’s appointment in March and he will serve during a national search to replace current Provost Lynn Pardie, who will retire May 31.

Pardie, who joined the UIS faculty as a professor of psychology in 1989, was appointed provost in July 2012, after serving for more than a year as interim provost. She also served as chair of the psychology department and vice chancellor for graduate education and research.

The board approved a resolution thanking Pardie for her 27 years of service to UIS, noting that her “calm, quiet” leadership as provost expanded academic offerings during a time of budget constraints and attracted high-quality and diverse students to the campus.

Board Secretary resolution

Trustees approved a resolution honoring Susan Kies, who will retire June 30 after nearly five years as secretary of the Board of Trustees and of the University. The secretary is a University officer with wide-ranging responsibilities that include planning for board and board committee meetings and advising top University officials, including the president.

Kies spent more than 25 years with the University as an employee and student. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the Urbana-Champaign campus in 1978, and worked in various administrative and faculty positions after returning to the University in 1993, including her term as secretary.

The resolution thanks Kies for “fresh perspectives and guidance” that have assisted the board in critical decisions affecting all aspects of University operations, and noted her passion for higher education and its power to transform lives.

Dedra “Dee Dee” Williams, a high-level University administrator for more than two decades, will succeed Kies and began her new duties in January, providing an overlapping transition period to gain background on the responsibilities of the position.

UIC administrator resolution

The board also approved a resolution honoring longtime faculty member and administrator Eric A. “Rick” Gislason for nearly 50 years of service to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

Gislason has repeatedly answered calls to help lead the growing campus since he joined UIC in 1969 as a professor of chemistry. Most recently, he served as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost during a national search that brought Susan Poser to UIC as the campus’s new provost on Feb. 1. Since then, Gislason has served as a senior advisor to Chancellor Michael Amiridis and will return to his position as a professor emeritus of chemistry on May 31.

He also served twice as interim chancellor – from 2008 to 2009 and again in early 2015 – and as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 1997 to 1998. He also held permanent appointments as head of the chemistry department from 1993 to 1999, and as vice chancellor for research from 1999 to 2008.

A “thoughtful and compassionate leadership style” has been Gislason’s hallmark throughout his career, the resolution says, and has helped anchor the campus during times of transition.

Continuing budget resolution

The board also approved a resolution to keep the University operating legally after its current fiscal year ends June 30. The annual resolution is required to pay bills and maintain operations until the legislature finalizes a new state budget for the fiscal year 2017 that begins July 1.

The resolution typically authorizes expenditures based on state funding levels for the current fiscal year. Because the state has yet to approve a budget for fiscal 2016, the fiscal 2017 resolution is based on state funding levels for fiscal 2015, the last year the University received a full appropriation from the state. The resolution also incorporates ongoing cost-saving initiatives that have been implemented over the last year.

Trustees will consider the University’s operating budget for fiscal 2017 when a state budget is approved. The University’s total operating budget for fiscal 2015 was $5.6 billion.


The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 80,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.


Follow us on Twitter | Facebook