July 23, 2009
An Open Letter to University of Illinois Alumni and the People of Illinois
The ongoing review of admissions practices at the University of Illinois andaccompanying media coverage have clouded our state’s flagship institution of higher education, prompting us to speak out.The work of the state Admissions Review Commission is extremely important, and wesupport its efforts – because admissions practices that allow special interests to displaceexcellence must stop. We commend Gov. Pat Quinn’s establishment of the commissionand also his recent partnership with alumni in his first and most recent appointment to theUI Board of Trustees.Yet when we hear suggestions that the University of Illinois is a “clout school” or a placewhere top students should not attend, we strongly disagree. We remind our alumni andthe citizens of Illinois that the U of I has a very proud history, spanning nearly 150 years.To be clear, we need to separate the issue of admissions practices from that of theoutstanding reputation of this great University. The high regard in which the Universityof Illinois is held is based on the world-class faculty and students who have alwayscomprised its makeup. Throughout its many decades, the U of I has been a beacon of academic and affordable excellence, and its future is even brighter.The very roots of the University’s founding in 1867 are steeped in the mission of enhancing the welfare of this state, the nation and the world. For more than a century, theU of I has steadfastly provided the opportunity for excellence in education – not for a privileged few, but for many. Today’s University consists of 70,000 students, 23,000faculty and staff, and the largest base of living alumni at 600,000. More than half of thesealumni – some 350,000 – continue to call the state of Illinois home.The University of Illinois prides itself on being a solid investment and strong economicdriver for the state.
The University pumps more than $13 billion into the state’s economyeach year. It is responsible for more than 150,000 jobs, with Illinois alumni adding morethan $21 billion to the state’s economic output.But the University of Illinois is nothing if not for the people who discover and excelwithin it – people who have emerged transformed and empowered, appreciative andloyal. They have benefited from the vast richness of this institution’s excellence – fromits colleges and programs that rank among the top 10 nationally, including engineering,