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500 More Faculty, Arts Funding Among UI Campus Leaders’ Goals

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(Duration: 13:09)

University of Illinois Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise says students and faculty are the driving force behind its future vision. Their advice and criticisms shaped a Monday meeting hosted by her and Provost Ilesanmi Adesida.

More than 200 faculty and students, some standing against the wall, filled the Beckman Auditorium for the 90-minute Town Hall discussion as part of the 'Visioning Future Excellence' process.

One of the key goals is recruiting 500 new faculty members in the next five to seven years, rebuilding the U of I's tenured system to about 2,000.

"This is 500 new minds," Adesida said.  "Five-hundred new perspectives.  This is how we bring in new energy, new perspectives, and how we ingite the scholarly creativity that is the hallmark of the best institutions." 

The News-Gazette reports that the campus' tenured faculty has dropped from about 2,100 in 2007-08 to 1,856. Retirements, departures for jobs elsewhere and hiring freezes are responsible for the drop.

The Chancellor said the new landscape for higher education includes drastic changes to energy and the environment, health and wellness, social equality, and rapid changes in technology.

Wise also said the U of I’s sense of community is rare, but there is need for improvement.

“It is only all of the voices are heard - voices from different cultural backgrounds, different religious background, different racial backgrounds, different sexual orientation backgrounds, different gender backgrounds that we are really going to succeed," she said.  "And even here there is work to do.  We must become even better at this so that were are the attractive destination for the best and brightest faculty, students and staff.”

Provost Adesida has announced a 50-percent increase in arts funding for individuals by next fall on the Urbana campus.

Adesida said two campus-wide working groups will be set up this fall, one to back arts initiatives – the other area being humanities. He said there are resources like the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, that are worth tapping into.

“Research where you can engage students, research that you can publish," Adesida said. "These are the things that we’re hoping to promote.  The essence of this is that we want the campus to be uniformly excellent at whatever we do.  Humanities and the arts are a big element of our campus.”

Adesida said the funding for arts and humanities will influence how the U of I thinks and writes in other areas of study. He said resources to help faculty with grant proposals are uneven across campus, but Adesida hopes to change that.

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