Earlier this month, university leadership officially unveiled and launched the campus’ five-year Strategic Plan. “The Next 150” is the culmination of the collaborative, yearlong planning process undertaken by eleven faculty-led strategic plan working group committees. Several of our own faculty members served on these committees, and we thank them for representing the College of Education with their invaluable input and expertise.
The university’s mission, which directs the strategic efforts outlined in the Plan, echoes the reason Illinois was established as a land-grant institution 150 years ago: to enhance the lives of people in Illinois, across the nation, and around the world through leadership in learning, discovery, engagement, and economic development. Public engagement is deeply connected to each of the four Goals of the Strategic Plan, especially “to make a significant and visible Societal Impact.”
Becoming an Engaged University
In addition to charging a committee on Public Engagement for the Strategic Plan, Chancellor Jones stated in his 2017 State of the University address, “Inseparable from our investments and innovations around diversity will be our efforts to move from being a university with engagement programs to a Publicly Engaged University… we cannot deliver on the land-grant promise of the 21st century if public engagement is not an organizing principle for us as a university.”
The Chancellor’s charge to be an engaged university (rather than a university with engagement programs) involves:
- Redefining the land-grant mission for the 21st century
- Promoting engagement as an organizing principle for our university
- Offering new and better solutions to address society’s critical challenges
- Planning efforts in ways that place engagement as a clear priority
The Public Engagement committee, on which I was honored to serve, gave several recommendations now included in the Strategic Plan—confirming campus’ renewed commitment to engagement. I encourage you to read the Public Engagement committee recommendations and Goal 3: Societal Impact in the Strategic Plan.
Education’s Commitment to Engagement
The College has a long and rich history of engagement with local, regional, national, and global communities. Through our centers, initiatives, and offices, we seek to view engagement through the lens of being a “mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.” (Carnegie Foundation, 2006.)
Engagement remains a core value of the Education at Illinois experience. From large-scale ventures, to one-on-one impact, the College supports faculty, staff, and student participation in a myriad of ways. This spring semester alone, projects like the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), the Youth Literature Festival, the SOAR bilingual tutoring program, and many more are looking to make societal impact in significant ways.
Engagement is woven into the fabric of everything we do in Education, and we are a stronger and more beautiful place of leadership, teaching, and service because of it.
Yours in Orange and Blue,
James D. Anderson, Ed.M. ’69, Ph.D. ‘73
Dean and Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor of Education