Illinois has selected 14 proposed projects to receive a total of more than $5 million of Investment for Growth funding. Now in its second year, the Investment for Growth program is aimed at generating new sources of revenue while continuing to invest in the university’s missions of education, research and public engagement.
“As we look to our future, we need to continue to be proactive and innovative in our funding models,” said Provost Andreas Cangellaris. “The Investment for Growth program provides a transparent and strategic opportunity to invest in our future.”
Among the new projects are a humanities professional resources center, a neurology behavioral assessment laboratory, an expansion of the College of Engineering's City Scholars Program, a Master of Science degree in Management and a program to develop curriculum and training for educators to teach computer science. View the full list of this year’s funded projects below. You can also learn more about the Investment for Growth program itself here.
Once again this year, colleges and institutes were invited to submit Investment for Growth proposals with details on funding models, demand and potential impact. Associate Chancellor and Vice Provost for Budget and Resource Planning Paul Ellinger said proposals were evaluated by the Campus Budget Oversight Committee, deans and other senior leadership in the spring. Criteria included financial feasibility, enhancing the student experience, alignment with industry demand, likelihood of stability, increasing efficiency and, first and foremost, centered on continued excellence.
College of Education Dean James Anderson says the Investment for Growth Program will enable the College of Education to expand their mission: “The Illinois Secondary Teacher Education and Computer Science (I-STECS) Initiative responds directly to recent, urgent calls from politicians, business leaders, educational policy makers, and school administrators, especially in Chicago, for the establishment of programs of computer science throughout secondary schools in the State of Illinois and nationally,” he said.
The College of Engineering’s City Scholars Program will expand the current program that exposes undergraduate students to the vibrant tech scene in Chicago and matches engineering students with internships in Chicago while continuing to progress towards earning their degree. This means increasing the number of students participating, with the goal of reaching more than 200 students within ten semesters.
"Illinois has always been known for excellence at scale,” says College of Engineering Dean Tamer Basar. “All of our Investment for Growth programs lean on and leverage that reputation. These programs reflect an outpouring of interest from prospective undergraduate and graduate students, our commitment to innovative approaches to educating those students, and our constant attention to their needs as well as the needs of the state. We're making smart investments, and we're confident that they are going to pay off."
Last year’s Investment for Growth proposals are already showing promise. These projects included an expansion of the iMBA program to meet market demand and grow enrollment. Currently, it is the fastest growing revenue-generating program across campus. By this fall, the program expects to have more than 1,700 students enrolled spanning more than 45 states and more than 70 countries. The first class of 76 students graduated in 2018. One current student has already created a nonprofit called the Million Waves Project, which collects littered plastics from beaches and transforms them into 3-D printed hands for those who have no access to affordable prosthetics.
The iMSA, the online Master of Science in Accountancy, is also showing promise. In less than a year, the program has enrolled 180 students from 33 states and 9 countries. Its two most successful courses, Federal Taxation and Financial Reporting, have attracted more than 4,000 virtual students located on six continents.
As part of the College of Engineering proposal from last year to grow enrollment, the Center for Professional and Executive Training and Education has been established. The College has hired several positions, and is planning to hire several more to support this effort to offer professional and executive training services to external corporations and agencies. The master’s degree in engineering’s projected enrollment for academic year 2018-2019 is also ahead of its growth target, with 249 students in the program compared to the projected 212.
The Computer Science Programs Growth project, now called CS+X, has created ten combined programs that mesh traditional computer science coursework with another discipline. Current offerings are: Advertising, Anthropology, Astronomy, Chemistry, Crop Sciences, Economics, Geography, Linguistics, Music and Philosophy.
The College of Education has hired three new professors as faculty members in the Technology Innovations in Educational Research and Design (TIER-ED), one of the last year’s funded projects. They each bring unique expertise to address critical issues in education.
Many of the original and newest proposals have three-to-five year plans to be profitable, and Ellinger said he is optimistic about their futures. Provost Cangellaris shared that the next call for proposals will encourage and prioritize multi-disciplinary and multi-unit collaborations across campus. That next call for proposals is planned to be announced during the fall 2018 academic semester.
Funded FY19 Investment for Growth Projects
Supporting and Promoting the Practical Value of a Humanities Education in the 21st Century
College of LAS
By creating a Humanities Professional Resources Center (HPRC), the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences aims to provide a unique opportunity for employers and corporate partners seeking students with skill sets fostered by a humanities education at Illinois. This program will build on the curricular and career exploration work of the existing LAS Life + Career Design Lab and will provide students with an outlet for specific career advice related to their educational background. The new Humanities Professional Resources Center plans to foster expanded internship opportunities, educational guidance, alumni mentoring, career coaching and employer outreach to help humanities students succeed post-graduation.
Blended Learning Bachelor’s Degrees
College of Engineering
The creation of a blended learning option for undergraduate degree programs within the College of Engineering aims to provide an enhanced learning experience while reducing the cost per student to deliver each program. Students will be able to participate in off-campus career-building experiences such as internships and co-ops while making progress towards their degree. By using technology to deliver quality classes at a distance for the portion of students who choose the off-campus blended learning, the College of Engineering will be able to admit more students while sustaining the costs needed to support them.
Illinois Neuro/Behavioral Assessment Laboratory
College of LAS
The Illinois Neuro/Behavioral Assessment Laboratory (IN/BAL) will support cutting-edge science while enhancing the existing foundation for world-class research at Illinois in social and behavioral science, medicine, neuroscience and genomics. The laboratory plans to conduct cross-disciplinary, cutting-edge research on neurobehavioral functioning; create a measurement core for the scientific community at the University of Illinois and the public; and enhance the training needs for students. It plans to provide training opportunities that will benefit students from a wide variety of programs, including Psychology, Education, Business, Advertising, Labor and Employment Relations, Social Work, Communication and Human Development and Family Studies.
Illinois Secondary Teacher Education and Computer Science (I-STECS) Initiative
College of Education
Funding for the Illinois Secondary Teacher Education and Computer Science (I-STECS) Initiative will develop curriculum and implementation for two programs: an undergraduate program in computer science education leading to licensure (certification) as a secondary teacher of computer science; and an online or hybrid program leading to endorsement in computer science education for licensed, in-service secondary teachers. These programs are designed to provide future educators with the resources and certifications to develop, implement and articulate well- integrated computer science education programs in schools throughout Illinois.
Center for Smart Agriculture (COE & ACES)
College of ACES and College of Engineering
The Center for Smart Agriculture, a collaboration between the College of ACES and College of Engineering, will strengthen research, industrial outreach and community education in agricultural sciences. The center plans to create a new professional Master’s degree in CS+CS (Computer Science and Crop Sciences), partake in large-scale interdisciplinary research initiatives and expand the strong ties to Illinois agricultural industry. Ultimately, the center will serve to increase agricultural productivity and sustainability needs as a world leader in agriculture.
Metropolitan Food and Environmental Systems (MetroFESt) Major
College of ACES
A new major in Metropolitan Food and Environmental Systems (MetroFESt) will help undergraduate students tackle topics in feeding the world’s future population in a way that promotes environmental and human health. Students will learn the science and practice of food production, processing and security across urban contexts. The College of ACES will draw from its strengths of training students across engineering and the physical, earth, life, social and behavioral sciences to address multi-sectored and multi-layered topics. Ultimately, this new program will ensure students are well-equipped to help tackle the world’s most pressing food issues.
Master of Science in Management (MSM) Program
Gies College of Business
Gies College of Business will launch a new, one-year Master of Science in Management (MSM) degree in June 2018. The mission of this program is to provide high-quality business education to recent undergraduates seeking management skills and knowledge to pursue a career in business, government, or education. The new MSM program leverages the experience and success of already-offered Master of Science in Technology Management (MSTM) degree, and expands the opportunity of a one-year business degree to students in humanities, arts and education. While a typical graduate business program reflects the diversity of both STEM and non-STEM majors, the uniqueness of the Illinois MSM program rests in designing a program specifically for non-STEM backgrounds.
New programs in Environmental Design and Health
College of Fine and Applied Arts
The College of Fine and Applied Arts and the College of Applied Health Sciences will add a concentration in Health and Well-being within the MS in Architectural Studies program, a concentration in Built Environment and Public Health within the Master of Public Health program, and a certificate program for students in both colleges in Environmental Design and Health. These additional programs will attract students in design and health behavior with the opportunity to specialize in professional interests. These three additions support a long-term aspiration to form a new, self-supporting master’s program in Environmental Design and Health Behavior that is jointly administered by both colleges.
Promoting Ecosystem and Wildlife Health Literacy
College of Veterinary Medicine
The Illinois Program to Promote Ecosystem and Wildlife Health (EWH) Literacy will cultivate, guide and host a collaborative approach between the College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences in the College of ACES and the Prairie Research Institute. The online education program will include a Master’s degree in Applied Ecosystem and Wildlife Health; educational certificates and topic specific courses in Ecological Concepts, Ecosystem Health, Wildlife Diseases and tools for wildlife health investigation. Experts will deliver high-quality, flexible learning opportunities to ensure an educated workforce of professionals and members of the general public are engaged in the well-being of our natural systems.
Expansion of Master of Accountancy Science Program
Gies College of Business
For the first time, the Master’s of Accountancy Science (MAS) degree will be opened to students pursuing an accounting degree outside of the top-ranked Illinois Department of Accountancy. Currently, the program is open only to Illinois students majoring in Accountancy in the Gies College of Business. The expansion of the will open to the program to external applicants, providing an opportunity to expand its reach to markets beyond the current degree programs. This will further enhance the department as the top provider of superior accountancy education both domestically and globally.
School of Integrative Biology Study Abroad Pipeline for International Students
College of LAS
An expansion of the study abroad pipeline in the School of Integrative Biology will increase opportunities for international and domestic students. This project consists of recruiting students over two cohorts per year distributing students across labs, and developing an integrated program of study for Chinese students that includes adapting introductory online classes. Ultimately, this program will provide a pathway to allow both domestic and international students to obtain a non-thesis Master’s degree in Integrative Biology.
Advancing Translational Research and Collaboration through Surgical Training and Innovation
College of Veterinary Medicine
Interdisciplinary expertise across campus will work together to provide a hub that develops and evaluates animal surgical models, non-animal simulations, online surgical training courses and a translational research hub for the advancement of research and education. This project is in in collaboration with the College of Engineering, the Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, the Design Group @ Vet Med and the Health Care Engineering Systems Center. With goals of advancing the future of surgical training in medical education, disciplines across campus will work together to improve implementation science, the science of health care delivery and advanced curriculum.
City Scholars Program Expansion
College of Engineering
The College of Engineering plans to expand the existing Engineering City Scholars Program — a program that exposes undergraduate students to the vibrant tech scene in Chicago and matches students with Chicago-based internships while continuing to progress towards earning their degree —to include additional undergraduate participation and the development of Masters-level programs. While the initial cohort included students from computer science and the electrical and computer engineering, the Engineering City Scholars Program plans to expand the program to other majors within the College of Engineering. The timeline for this effort involves increasing the number of students participating, with the goal of reaching more than 200 students within ten semesters.
Illinois Center for Autonomy
College of Engineering
The Center for Autonomy aims to provide a clear vision for the future of Illinois research in autonomous technology by advancing efforts in artificial intelligence, digital hardware, communication networks and information systems. Through technological scholarship and leadership, the center plans to establish an interdisciplinary faculty advisory board while providing a shared facility for students and faculty to interact in a collaborative and creative environment. Ultimately, the Center for Autonomy will spearhead innovations in the systems that are set to transform our society and enable the University to strengthen the State of Illinois in it endeavor to become a more significant participant in the tech economy.