Strategic Planning for a Changing Landscape

The landscape of public higher education is changing rapidly, more rapidly than ever before in its history. This change reflects a broader world changing faster than it ever has. Technologically, socially and economically, we are seeing fundamental shifts in state, national and global expectations of research universities that demand new levels of innovation in everything that we do as an institution.

The landscape will be even more dramatically different 20-50 years from now. The challenges ahead of us during this century demand that we incorporate different models of learning, discovery, engagement and economic development into our Illinois experiences. Just as this campus was born from and shaped by the demands of the 19th century, we must adapt our educational and research operations to face the challenges of the 21st century. And this time, the issues we must address aren't just ones within our state or even the nation, but ones that will impact lives around the world. Through an 18-month, campus wide Visioning Future Excellence Initiative six critical societal challenges were identified in which Illinois should play a role in providing solutions. These themes and the conversations that led to them served as the framework for the 2013-2016 strategic plan for the campus.

The great research universities 20-50 years into the future will be those that embrace and manage change. They will be the ones where excellence is broad and deep. They will be the ones that contribute to the quality of life of the citizens around them. They will be the ones that perceive the sense of urgency in their operating environments and are agile enough to lead change instead of being managed by it.

Our faculty, staff and students are committed to being one of those universities. In fact, we believe we have a responsibility to be one of those universities. As a truly comprehensive public research university, we contribute to our community, the state, the nation and the world in ways that others cannot. We have a unique capacity to do so and it is a capacity that must expand if we are to meet the grand challenges of our time.

Investments and structural innovations to increase this capacity need to be made, in some cases - almost literally, today. We have to be ready and able to move strategically even as we move rapidly. We have established a shared vision and a plan to guide the choices we make and to allow us to be strategically opportunistic and to ensure that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ranks among the pre-eminent public research universities in the decades to come.