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Transcript SOTU 2019

THERESA MINTLE: Hello, UIC! Ooooh, that was pretty good! One more time: Hello, UIC! Great! Thank you and thanks to Nick and the members of the UIC Pep Band. You guys are rockin’. Good job.

Good afternoon, distinguished deans and faculty, staff, students and guests. I am Theresa E. Mintle and I am the interim vice chancellor for Public and Government Affairs. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 4th annual State of the University of Illinois at Chicago Address.

We are here today to celebrate our great institution. Just 54 years from the founding of the Circle campus, UIC has emerged as a global leader in the field of post-secondary education.

It is with great pride that I serve this institution and all of you who make this amazing place to what it is today. In just five years, Chancellor Amiridis’ energy has created momentum and excitement around our legacy of diversity, student access, and academic excellence.

In a few minutes, we'll be hearing from him about his thoughts about UIC’s future and the opportunities that lie ahead. But we all know, that one person can’t really run the machine that UIC alone. It takes a special partner and that would be the chancellor’s wife, Ero. Ero, we would like to thank for all that you do for UIC to support our chancellor and to be just such an amazing presence on our campus.

In addition to Ero, there are a number of people who really helped the chancellor, and really all of us, to succeed. I would also like to acknowledge a couple of elected leaders who are here with us today. Speaker Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, thank you. And Justice Michael Hyman, of the Circuit Court of Cook County, thank you for being here.

I would also like to thank the members of the university’s leadership team for being with us today.

It is an honor serving with you and being part of our collective contribution to this, to UIC’s growth.

We also have civic and community leaders here. To each and every one of you, I extend our heartfelt gratitude for all that you do and continue to do for UIC and our students. We all know that UIC is a jewel in Chicago’s crown. It is up to each of us to keep this a great university, where our students go on to be doctors, social workers, teachers, researchers, artists, and now even lawyers.

Thank you for that one.

And today is a unique opportunity for each of us to get a birds-eye-view of our great university. So, let’s take a quick look at a brief video we put together that sums up the year’s highlights.

Pretty awesome, right?

And I’ve also like to acknowledge the Senator Omar Aquino, has arrived.

Hello. Welcome; thanks for being here.

Now, I’m delighted to introduce Susan Panek, our Student Trustee. Susan is a senior in biological sciences. She is involved in Women in Sciences and Engineering and the Society of Future Physicians. Susan’s pretty amazing. I think you’ll find that when you hear from her remarks. So, please welcome, please join me in welcoming her to the stage.

SUSAN PANEK: Good afternoon, everyone. It’s an honor to stand here before you all as a student who’s stayed here for the University of Illinois at Chicago. It’s a position I can only describe as one that has been and really truly continues to be a tremendous labor of love for me. Although I’ve been in this position for really only a few months, I was easily welcomed and very warmly embraced by all of the individuals from the Board of Trustees, all the way to the individuals for the U of I System, including the University of Illinois at Chicago.

But, the warm welcome that I received at the very beginning was not a surprise to me. I joined the University of Illinois at Chicago four years ago as a first-year student freshman, and first in my family to pursue university in the United States. And I was welcomed also very similarly, in a warm manner.

But prior to the first year of classes, a day I remember very fondly, was attending the university’s convocation. So for the students, several of you know that this is kind of our graduation in reverse. It’s a graduation in reverse specifically for the incoming cohorts or students. And as I sat there, in the Credit Union 1 Arena, amongst all my other students, in my convocation shirt, which I always. You know I’m so proud to say I still have. I was so excited. Really looking forward to all the beautiful things ahead.

I made myself three promises. The first was to really make the most out of my university experience. The second, to serve and advocate for all of my students and really contribute to UIC. And third, to bear the torch and light the flame at convocation. Something that I was super excited about and I’m fortunate enough to say that I had the pleasure and the chance to do this here. But of the three promises I made to myself, the one that I am really hoping to speak on is the promise to…as was already mentioned. You know I had the privilege of serving my fellow students in an array of ways. From president on different executive boards to student representative on different committees. And I’m grateful that I have been able to have every one of those opportunities, as it really prepared me for the role for within which I serve today.

It’s one that enables me not only to serve my students in represent them, but contribute to proving and advocating for the U of I system. And I know that you all share that same commitment UIC, which is why we’re here today, to discuss and celebrate our accomplishments, our challenges, and also our future plans. But before we begin this discussion, I want to introduce Dr. Catherine Vincent.

Dr. Vincent is an Associate Professor in the Department of Women, Children, and Family Health Science and she’s also the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Nursing. Where she teaches Ph.D. graduate nursing course. Her research addresses the challenges of unrelieved children’s pain. She has also served on the UIC senate from 2006 to 2009 and then from 2011 to present now. She began her fourth senate term in 2017 and she also served as the College of Nursing Representative on the Senate Executive Committee since 2011, has been the presiding officer of the senate for 2012 to 2014. And has been Chair of Senate Executive Committee and Secretary of the Senate since 2014. So now, without a further ado. Please help me in welcoming Dr. Catherine Vincent.

CATHERINE VINCENT: Thank you, she going to be a tough act to follow. Michael Amiridis has lead the University of Illinois at Chicago since March of 2015 and I have to say, it’s been over four momentous years. Many of you know me, I have served at the faculty on the College of Nursing for fourteen years. I serve on the UIC Senate and I’ve seen this university grow up.

But have never witnessed an institutional growth spurt and that’s exactly what we have experienced. We are over 33,000 students strong. An outcome of five years of record-breaking enrollments, while the state was mired in budget funds. Two of those years without any budget. My state colleges and universities recede in enrollment declines and yet, UIC’s momentum increased.

As Chancellor Amiridis likes to say, “Students vote with their feet and their choosing UIC.” In the last two years, we have broken ground and cut ribbons on buildings and labs all across the university. That has put us at the forefront of innovative living, learning, teaching, and research emanation. And in fact, UIC is the first of the three universities in the system to form a public private collaboration, referred to as P3. Bringing to life one of the early cornerstones Chancellor Amiridis, in Chancellor Amiridis’ strategy. To push our culture to be more innovative and entrepreneurial. The outcome was that beautiful Academic and Residential Complex on Harrison and Morgan. Chancellor Amiridis has continued to press for strong and ongoing engagement, with community and civic organizations and corporate and elected officials, to discuss how UIC’s strengths and resources are beneficial to Chicago and to the state. And how we can leverage our strengths to increase our impact, locally and globally.

Chancellor Amiridis serves on the board of Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the Chicagoland Chamber of Congress. As in any institution this big and complex, there are always challenges along the way, and we have faced several. However, UIC’s upward trajectory feels more solid than ever. So, it is with pledger that I have had this opportunity to share my sense of how UIC looks like today and to welcome Chancellor Michael Amiridis for his State of UIC Address.

CHANCELLOR AMIRIDIS: Thank you, Katie, I’m thinking about quitting right now while I’m ahead. After this introduction I don’t know what I can do to do better than this, this afternoon. Thank you everyone and thank you for joining us today and thank you for your interest in the current state and future of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

As most of you know and if you didn’t know you heard already, I arrived at this university in early 2015 at the beginning of the worst budget crisis in the history of public higher education in Illinois.  At the peak of the crisis, in the Spring of 2017, in this same State of the University address, I told you that to advance UIC we had to escape forward. Escape forward with pride for our accomplishments, with a renewed conviction to our public mission, and with a spirit of innovation and excitement for the future!  And boy, did we escape forward? We broke barriers and records and we emerged stronger than ever before, as our core values and our strategic priorities and goals guided our run for the future. Today, we have built a strong momentum that is the envy of higher education in this state and in the entire region.

Along this journey, each one of you has contributed in different ways to making student experience and success a top priority; to elevating our national and international reputation for research and scholarship; to enhancing our engagement through a closer alignment with institutions, businesses, non-profits and communities that make up Chicago and to creating a more nimble, entrepreneurial and sustainable university in support of our mission.

Let’s put the facts together. This fall for the third, for the fifth year in a row, we enrolled a record number of students bringing our total enrollment to more than 33,400 students – an increase of more than 5% over last year and nearly 20% over the fall of 2014 enrollment.

At the start of the fall semester as we welcomed our newest students and their families to our annual Convocation and picnic – a tradition that I look forward to every year. I couldn’t help but thinking that every other university would love to be in our position.

They would also like to know how and why? And the answer may sound simple: it is quality, it is value, it is our campus environment, and it is our location, but it is extremely difficult to duplicate the unique institution that all of us and our predecessors have created here, at the heart of Chicago.

And the growth will continue, because what we are offering is in great demand! Just 10 days ago, more than 10,000 prospective students, parents and community members visited campus for the UIC Open House to get a taste of what we have to offer.

At the same time, we have remained accessible to those who need the social elevator of higher education the most. The majority of our student population relies on financial aid to meet their goals. More than 50% of all UIC undergraduates and more than 60% of new incoming first-year students receive Pell grant support. Furthermore, nearly 60% of our undergraduates receive MAP funding making us the largest recipient of MAP funding in the state of Illinois. As the speaker and senator Aquino and on behalf of our students we are grateful to the state for increasing MAP funding this year.

In total, every year we award more than $140 million in grant and scholarship aid to our students. Which includes federal, state and over $57 million in our own institutional funds.

We are proud to be the social elevator school for our students and graduates and proud to remain true to our mission.

We have also implemented scholarship programs to assist some outstanding students from middle class economic backgrounds. The new Chancellor’s Fellows and Provost’s Fellows Programs, utilize matching funds from the state’s AIM HIGH program, which in my opinion is a great piece of legislative work. In this first year of the AIM HIGH program, 250 Chancellor’s and Provost’s Fellows enrolled at UIC as freshmen and I’m confident that we made a difference in retaining these 250 high achievers in Illinois.

And through creative partnerships, such as the naming agreements for the Credit Union 1 Arena and the Dorin Forum we are making the case that support for additional scholarships at UIC is a top priority.

We are also proud for the role that the UIC community played in successfully advocating for the “Rise Bill,” which Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law at UIC this summer. The Rise Bill, the Rise Bill makes undocumented students eligible for MAP grants and institutional aid at public Universities in Illinois. The same is also true for transgender students regardless of whether they registered for selective service. This is right, this is fair and I was glad to see it signed into law here at UIC.

Finally, thank you for clapping, first, I know she has put so much time into this effort. Finally, it is through scholarships that we manage to advance some small scale but high impact programs, like UIC’s “Call Me Mister” program through the College of Education. This program is designed to train more male students of color to become licensed elementary school teachers, who will not only teach, but also serve as role models in their communities to positively impact the lives of children here in Chicago and across the state of Illinois.

As our national and international reputation continues to grow, we are also experiencing international growth among our undergraduate students. Our partnership with Shorelight, known as UIC Global, has boosted our international undergraduate student enrollment to nearly 1600. These students do not replace, but they supplement our in-state students and open windows to the world for them.

And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that -- at the same time -- our study abroad programs have grown rapidly. What is interesting is that the overall demographic data for our study abroad students are counter-intuitive and reflect the diversity of UIC.

What I mean by this, more than 60% of our study abroad students identify as under-represented minorities, more than 60% are the first in their families to go to college and more than 75% receive federal financial aid.

So, why do they go abroad? These numbers defy conventional wisdom in the study abroad field and in part are due to more than $1 million in study abroad scholarships and that we manage to put together and provide.  This also includes a generous support by United Airlines which covered the travel expenses of 50 students last year who went to 26 countries on 5 continents, alphabetically arranging from Argentina and Australia to Turkey and the United Kingdom.

With our growth in enrollment, we needed to find new ways to accommodate the needs of our students.

The opening of the Academic and Residential Complex may be providing beautiful skyline views from the dorm rooms as an added perk for the students, but more importantly it sets a new standard for state-of-the-art classrooms. If you haven’t visited these classrooms, you should. There’s something different than what you’re used to.

Giving our students real-world experiences to expand their classroom learning is also critical to attract the students of tomorrow. The standards that our Colleges of Engineering and Business have set in this area for years now are noticed across the country and here on our campus.  And the opening of the new Complex gave students in the College of Business another opportunity not only to operate, but also to manage a small business, such as the newly opened coffee shop there. Which is managed and operated by our students.

This fall, we are also opening three new health care simulation centers in the Colleges of Nursing, Medicine and Pharmacy. These new facilities are the gold standard for training students and health care professionals in clinical, communication and decision-making skills, before they start interacting with patients. And having visited one of them and cutting the ribbon for the other two next week I can tell you it’s almost scary what these manikins can do.

So, how do you beat this kind of learning experience? You do it by being aboard a Swedish icebreaker vessel in the Canadian Artic. Not necessarily easy, as we found, after a couple of unsuccessful attempts in 2017 and 2018, but five UIC students made it this summer and recently returned from the Northern Passage Project, a research expedition where they collected water, ice and air samples to improve understanding of the effect of warming trends in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The students from UIC’s Department of Biological Sciences were supported in part by the National Science Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

So there’s no doubt that UIC students are talented and inspiring – and many will make great contributions to our city, our state and the world. Each year I am impressed by the number of them who are selected for highly competitive scholarships and awards.

UIC has three Fulbright finalists this year, who will conduct research, study, or teach English abroad:

  • Melissa Hendrickson, an alumna who earned a master’s degree in museum and exhibition studies in 2017;
  • Zuka’a Joudeh, who graduated this past May with summa cum laude distinction and bachelor’s degrees in political science and Germanic studies; and
  • Frankee Lyons, a UIC doctoral candidate in history.

Two UIC students were also named Goldwater Scholars. This is the most known undergraduate award for STEM talent in the country. Anis Barmada, who is majoring in biological sciences and chemistry, and Wasan Kumar, a neuroscience major, are among 496 scholars selected from every university in the country for a very competitive national field. I can say with confidence that these are among the top 500 of the best STEM majors of the entire country.

And finally, Nicolas Robledo, a finance major, continued the transition, the transition of UIC Newman Civic Fellowships this year. He has had one of them for many years now.

A special group among our students, our student athletes also represent the university on the athletic fields, and last year the Flames enjoyed tremendous success in competition. Four of our teams won Horizon League championships, affording dozens of student-athletes the opportunity to appear on the national stage during NCAA play.

Under the direction of head coach Sean Phillips, last fall the men’s soccer team made it three championships in a row for the first time in the program’s history. And knowing how they played this fall, I’m thinking it will be four in a row this year. In the spring, UIC alumna Lynn Curylo’s softball team won its fifth straight Horizon League championship, while the baseball team, under coach Mike Dee, who has been here over 20 years, won the conference tournament and earned a berth in the NCAA Championship for the second time in three years.

Finally, the women’s tennis team dominated the League once again they won both the regular season and the conference tournament. And under Head coach Shannon Tully’s team collected the 20th league championship. So the most of any team in our athletic department during their history. As a whole, the Athletic Department led all Horizon League schools in the 2018-19 Division I College Director’s Cup standings, which of course you have no idea what we mean, it means that we are basically the best in the league. That’s what we say in much fewer words.

The accomplishments of the Flames in the classroom were equally impressive. With 43 Flames recording a 4.0 GPA last spring and 115 appearing on the Dean’s List. And following a decades long tradition the Flames also found time to log in hundreds of community service hours as well.

In addition to the students, an equally important measure of the success of a University is the success of its alumni. So allow me to brag for a minute about the success of some recent alumni.

  • This year Bing Lui, a 2011 graduate, was nominated for an academy award for his documentary, Minding the Gap. In our opinion he should have been the winner of the Oscar! But I’m not biased.
  • Ivelisse Rodriguez, who received her PhD in 2006, was a finalist for the national PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction for her book, Love War Stories. That’s the top literary award that you can get in the country.
  • Best-selling science fiction and Marvel Comics author Nnedi Okorafor, who received her Master’s in 2002 and her PhD 2007, was extensively featured in the Chicago Tribune they call her and I’m quoting “Next Big Thing.”
  • And two UIC alumni -- Haven Allen and Rina Shah were recognized in the most recent Crain’s “40 Under 40” list.
  • While two were also recognized in Crain’s “20 In Their 20s” list -- Maurice Goodman (Class of 2013, BS Finance) and Moira O’Connor (Class of 2017, John Marshall Law School).

They all make us very proud!

Speaking of graduates this year we welcomed our 16th college, UIC John Marshall Law School, and the university’s first class of law students to the UIC family.

This is a big deal for Chicago and for UIC! It took three years and extraordinary work by many individuals at both ends to make this a reality. Integrating John Marshall into Chicago’s public research university is a perfect match – creating Chicago’s first and only public law school. And when people ask me what’s the big deal in having a public law school in Chicago, I point out that a public institution guarantees access to an affordable legal education and it also guarantees a scholarly and service focus on the critical legal issues of this city and this state. That is what the big deal is.

John Marshall has a long history of providing access to students from underserved populations, and of serving the Chicago communities by providing pro bono legal services through nine community legal clinics focusing among others on veterans law, fair housing and family law. So John Marshall was the perfect match for UIC and we are delighted to have them at UIC.

And if all this sounds exciting for the academic arena, just wait to see what’s happening this coming year. As our Provost leads the process of a revision of our core curriculum, with unique characteristics for UIC.

As we continue to renew our infrastructure and move into the construction phase of a new Computer Science building and a new Advanced Chemical Technology building and a much-needed renovation of the Student Centers.

And as we introduce new degree programs in several Colleges and a brand new Department of Real Estate in our College of Business.

Of course, none of these will be possible without the right leaders in place. At the university level we have continued to recruit innovative thinkers who will help transform our university and prepare us for the future. This year we welcomed:

  • TJ Augustine, Vice Chancellor for Innovation;
  • Joanna Groden, Vice Chancellor for Research;
  • Mark Rosenblatt, Executive Dean for the College of Medicine;
  • Rebecca Rugg, Dean of the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts; and
  • Tom Wamsley, more recent addition Vice Chancellor for Advancement.

But most importantly, since the last State of the University address in April 2018 we have hired approximately 300 new full-time faculty, half of which are tenured or in the tenure track.

And this is very important, because it is our faculty and staff members who address the educational needs of our students; it is our faculty and staff members who are engaged in our communities; and it is our faculty and staff members who advance our reputation in research and scholarship.

I’m really proud of the large number of them, ranging from the health sciences to the humanities who have been honored this last year by their peers and professional organizations for their achievements.

Faculty members like Mark Grabiner, Professor of Kinesiology and Nutrition in Applied Health Sciences who received the Borelli Award, the most prestigious honor given by the American Society of Biomechanics.

Like Laurie Reynolds, Assistant Professor of Art in the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts, who was one of eight people internationally and the only one in the US to receive the Soros Artist Fellowship for her work in civically engaged art.

Like Dick Simpson, Professor of Political Science in Liberal Arts & Sciences, everybody knows Dick Simpson! Dick won the Lifetime Achievement Award given by the American Political Science Association.

Like Luis Urrea, Distinguished Professor of English who was named a Guggenheim Fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Like Dean Michael Pagano Dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs who was presented, I think very recently, with the Aaron Wildavsky Award, a lifetime achievement award, by the Association for Budgeting & Financial Management (ABFM).

And like Dr. Terry Vanden Hoek, Chief Medical Officer of our hospital and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, who this year received the Physician of the Year Award from The Chicago Medical Society. The Physician of the Year in a city of 11 million resigns right here at UI Health.

It is through the hard work of these and hundreds more faculty members that UIC is one of 130 universities – and one of only four in Illinois – recognized nationally by the Carnegie Foundation as a very top research activity university - Research 1 as we call it.

With over $370 million in sponsored awards for fiscal year 19, we are ranked by the National Science Foundation in the top 45 public Universities in the country.

And every year our faculty continue to lead significant research initiatives and large multi-million-dollar programs that elevate UIC’s and Illinois’s national and international reputation.

Some of the most visible examples include Terry Vanden Hoek’s, weren’t we talking about Terry just a minute ago, this is Physician of the year, Terry Vanden Hoek’s $2.8 million NIH grant to evaluate the efficacy of two drugs that may boost cardiac arrest survival.

Jerry Krishnan’s $14.6 million, multi-center research project to determine which of two drugs is the most effective at treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mark Schlossman’s $14.1 million NSF grant, we are leaving medicine now and going to the science, to expand the experimental capabilities at NSF’s Chemistry and Materials Center for Advanced Radiation Sources.

Angela Ellison’s, $4.7 million Healthy Start grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to reduce the health disparities experienced by women and children living in historically underserved and marginalized communities.

And Alison Castro Superfine’s $4.7 million NSF grant to improve K-8 math instruction in south suburban schools here in Chicago.

If you do the quick math; $40 million federal funds coming to Illinois just for these five projects.

What is also important to highlight is that UIC faculty have an outstanding track record of bringing the results of their research and scholarship to practice.

UIC right now has three major therapeutics on the market today, including an anti-HIV drug, a bladder cancer drug, and a vaccine against the shingles virus, this is the vaccine that appeared two year ago in the market.  Revenue generated from these drugs will exceed $40 million in 2019 and which places us among the top 15 universities in royalties income in the country. And who are challenging, right now Northwestern for the top spot in the state of Illinois. These funds, these funds are reinvested to support our research programs and infrastructure.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The UIC Office of Technology Management currently manages 280 active licenses and 450 patents and is the home of 34 active startups. And these numbers do not include all the applied work that our faculty members do in the social sciences and the humanities where impact is not measured by dollars, but by studies and reports and the changes observed in the local communities.

Our success in translational research is locally and nationally recognized. This year seven UIC scientists from the Colleges of Medicine and Arts and Sciences were included in Halo’s “40 under 40” list for their excellent work in this field. Their projects range from developing a safer therapeutic for the most common childhood cancer to discovering antibiotics from bacteria collected in our lakes and oceans.

And just a few months ago Deerfield Management committed $65 million in translational research funding, as well as commercialization expertise, to advance promising UIC discoveries. UIC became one of ten academic institutions in the country to launch such a partnership with Deerfield and we are in the company of the crème de la crème in therapeutics research. We are together with FRMA, John Hopkins, and Andy Anderson in this agreement.

One of the biggest challenges we are facing in recruiting and retaining top faculty talent is the size and the quality of our research and teaching facilities.

Addressing this challenge is a Herculian task given the needs that exist and the little that has been done over decades. A good first sign of progress was the opening of the new Engineering Innovation Building which is home to Chicago’s only high-bay structural research labs, a unique facility in support of our Civil Engineering and structures programs, as well as new wet labs for Chemical and Mechanical Engineering. The facility highlights the need for investment in Engineering’s rapidly growing academic and research efforts

The new building, as well as a second much needed Computing Center- funded primarily by the state’s Capital Bill and again thank you Mr Senator for the work you did on the capital. And also some private donations and currently under engineering design -- enable us to give our students and faculty the state-of-the-art spaces that they need to learn, discover and innovate.

Furthermore, planned expansion of UIC’s Innovation Center, funded by the state again through the Discovery Partners Institute, will double the size of our corporate collaboration space used for joint projects with BMW, with Caterpillar, and with the Saint Francis Healthcare System, among others. And as you can see in the pictures there, work has already started.

We are also nearing completion of the construction of a Robotic Surgery Training Center, partially funded by the Bruno and Sallie Pasquinelli Family Foundation. Robotic Surgery is one of the most innovative clinical programs at UI Health and is the only Robotic Surgery Certification Program in the country, designated as a national Center of Excellence. The program has had many “firsts” in the world, including the first robotic lung resection, the first robotic liver resection and the first robotic middle pancreatectomy. It should come as no surprise then that our program and its leader Dr. Piero Gulianotti were recently highlighted in a feature story by the New Yorker magazine. Those of you who know who the New Yorker works knows it’s impossible to get a feature story.

The state’s very strong support for UIC and the Discovery Partners Institute, combined with our innovative use of public private partnerships allow us to continue to move forward with the implementation of our Capital Master Plan. The state-supported Advanced Chemical Technology Building and the Drug Discovery and Innovation Building are currently, and these are both top research facilities, are currently under engineering design, while this phase is almost completed for the privately and hospital-funded Outpatient Surgical Center and the hospital’s new atrium.

And while I’m very grateful to the state, I’m also encouraged by signs of success we had recently with respect to fundraising for our facilities from private funds. I’m referring to a new, so new that we have not announced it yet, $10 million gift from the Bruno and Sallie Pasquinelli family foundation that will support the new Outpatient Surgery Center. An additional $10 million in private funding raised by Engineering and Pharmacy for their facilities, $5 million provided by Christine Schwartz to Nursing to renovate and expand the Simulation Laboratory, and $10 million raised in clinical revenue by Pharmacy for the Drug Discovery Center. Put all this together and we are at $35 million for the last year and a half for facilities, which in my book is a good first step.

And if all of these get you excited and you wonder what is next-beyond our infrastructure-in research, stay tuned as this year:

As we launch four University Research Institutes to further drive discovery and coordinate our efforts towards big Center grants in our areas of strength.

We continue our pursuit of NCI designation for the Cancer Center.

We further enhance our efforts in support of the thematic areas of DPI.

And we initiate a much-needed internal grant program to support scholarship in the arts and the humanities

The work of our faculty, and the quality and value of our programs have been recognized in several recent rankings, bringing national visibility to UIC. Now, let’s make something clear: we don’t like rankings and as long as we remain focused on our mission and achieving our goals, we don’t care about rankings. But we get a kick out of them when they manage to get it right.

So this is why we like the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education which for the second year in a row have ranked UIC in the top 10 list of “Best Values” of the nation’s universities – the only Illinois university recognized by the Wall Street Journal in this category. We were also pleased to see that in the overall ranking of more than 340 U.S. public universities, UIC was tied for 21st with Michigan State University and you many want to take a look at who is right below us. The Dean of Engineering by the way has this picture in his signature so whenever he sends and email the alumni get it.

Money magazine’s 2019-2020 rankings also listed UIC in the top 10 list of “Most Transformative Colleges” in the nation. Their ranking looks at colleges based on scores for graduation rates, earnings, and student loan repayment -- when students and that's a direct quote from Money magazine “beat the odds by doing better than would be expected from their academic and economic backgrounds.” Yes, our students beat the odds. They beat the odds everyday, every month, and every year.  And even US News got it right and ranked us number 14 in social mobility and in doing so they recognize what a strong and broad social ladder of advancement UIC has been and continues to be.

For over five decades now, UIC is making a difference in Chicago and throughout the state, consistent with the land grant mission of the University of Illinois. Last year was no exception as we continued our efforts to improve our communities and to support health and wellness for all.

One example of how we is you actually make a difference just came to me yesterday from the College of Education, with the announcement of a $3.8 million Department of Education grant to Professor Cathy Main. Partnering with several Chicago community-based organizations, Professor Main and her team will prepare and support much needed early childhood educators, and will create multiple pathways to licensure for individuals already working with young children and families in their communities. Early childhood education and licensure is a hot piece right now in Chicago, and here we are with a big big sum of money coming from the Department of Education.

Similarly, through a $2.4 million Department of Defense grant, the UIC’s Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement is conducting work focusing on the resiliency of Illinois’ military-dependent communities.

And through Project STAGE faculty in UIC’s School of Theatre & Music and in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction are partnering with Chicago Public Schools teachers to empower young science learners with a platform to develop and communicate their thinking around science ideas and social change.

The Jane Addams College of Social Work is partnering with community leaders and Illinois state agencies, a number of Illinois state agencies, in several projects as they address human trafficking and the opioid crises, as they support adults transitioning from institutions to communities, and as they enhance the well-being of children residing in foster care.

Researchers from UIC’s Great Cities Institute earlier this year released a report earlier this year on the changing nature of gang violence in Chicago and the need for policies and policymakers to adjust how Chicago addresses violence.

And finally, our Public Health researchers are analyzing how climate change is affecting the health of citizens in Illinois; and at a national level they are investigating what is driving the spike in black lung disease among coal miners.

These are just a few examples of UIC’s impact in improving lives around us.

At the same time, the impact of our health care delivery system is felt by hundreds of thousands of our patients every year, as our health care providers both save lives and improve the quality of life every day.

Just last year alone, we treated close to 19,000 hospitalized patients, while over half a million crossed the doors of our clinics and almost 50,000 others visited our emergency department.

Our Mile Square Health Center added another 100,000 patient visits, through its main facility on Roosevelt Road and its network of 11 clinics, including six school-based ones.

One of them, one of the pictures that you see up there, is the Cynthia Barnes-Boyd/Drake Health and Wellness Center, a renovated school-based community health center on Chicago’s South Side, which opened its doors to patients last March. This clinic is located on-site at John B. Drake Elementary School, which is part of CPS.

While most of you know about the Hospital and Mile Square, I suspect that very few people know that UICs College of Dentistry is Illinois' largest provider of dental care.

Last year they addressed the dental care needs of over 35,000 patients and performed over 300,000 treatments and procedures.  And they improved access to dental care where it is needed the most, by providing more than 70,000 appointments annually to patients enrolled in the state dental Medicaid program, in fact 98% of the children treated in UIC’s dental clinics are Medicaid enrolled or Medicaid eligible. 98% of the children, this is what you call commit to access of healthcare.

The same commitment is unambiguously shared by our health science students, ten of which last year were selected for Schweitzer fellowships to address the health needs of underserved Chicago communities. In collaboration with existing community organizations, each fellow will launch a community-based project, providing 200 hours of service on top of everything else they do at the university.

In addition to caring for people, we are also committed to caring for the environment. This year, the UIC Office of Sustainability won a 2019 Emerald Award for Organizational Leadership from the Illinois Green Alliance for our Climate Action Implementation Plan. This plan provides a long-term strategy to make our operations more efficient and conserve resources, with an ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral.

And again this year, UIC was named a Voter Friendly Campus. As the only public university in Illinois to receive this designation from the fair election center projects. UIC continues to show its commitment to developing lifelong active community leaders and engaged citizens. This is the fourth year in a row that we are recognized as a voter friendly campus.

Many of you have heard me in the past talking about the rapidly shifting landscape in higher education and in healthcare delivery.

It is clear that significant changes are needed in both sectors to meet the public’s expectations for the services we provide and their associated costs.

It is also clear that institutions, which remain entrenched in their way of doing business and resist change in their operations will fail in meeting the public’s expectations and will suffer the consequences.

I believe that one of the main reasons we have built the momentum we currently have and we are in our current position, is our ability and willingness in the last few years to innovate as we build a more entrepreneurial and resilient university for the future.

We are changing the way we operate by reducing costs, aligning resource allocation with institutional priorities and by building new public-private partnerships. As a result, we have been able to build the Academic and Residential Complex, the first public-private partnership in the University of Illinois System. And we are working on additional P3 projects, including the new IGNITE Student Services Center and Outpatient Surgery Center.

Our decision this year to create the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Innovation highlights the importance of innovation beyond the research arena and organizes UIC’s innovation portfolio under one roof. The office is focused on creating initiatives across the university that support technology, commercialization, entrepreneurship, and collaboration with the private sector.

We also recognize the importance of access to online education, especially for working adults. We are at the last stage of negotiating an agreement with an outside partner to enhance and grow our 42 online programs across 13 colleges. And as I mentioned before, we would not have seen the recent growth in international undergraduate students without the partnership with Shorelight.

Finally, by collaborating with Deerfield Management, we will be able to accelerate the commercialization of promising therapeutics developed at UIC through West Loop Innovations, LLC. This partnership will benefit both the faculty members involved, but also UIC’s entire research enterprise, which is the ultimate recipient of the financial returns that we get.

This is what innovation in action looks like and this is why I can say confidently that we are succeeding in building an entrepreneurial university in support of our mission.

So to answer the central question of today’s address: What is the state of the university? I believe that the current state of the university is excellent.

We are improving the student experience as they are becoming successful professionals and active citizens.

We are recognized as a hub of research innovation performed by world-class faculty.

We continue to expand the meaning of community engagement as we improve the quality of life around us.

And we are adapting to change as we build a more entrepreneurial university for the future.

Not only have we escaped forward, but we have become trailblazers in the higher education landscape.

We challenge the status quo. We forge new paths. And we set an example for others to follow.

These are exciting times at UIC! Thank you for your support; it’s an honor and privilege to serve as your Chancellor! Go Flames!