Celebrate our great future
During my first year at Illinois, one thing that has really stood out to me as a distinguishing characteristic of our University is the enthusiasm, support and global reach of our alumni. I see Illinois logos and hear calls of “I-L-L” in some of the most unexpected places on the planet, so I welcome opportunities like this column to make more connections with more of you. For this first edition, I wanted to share some thoughts and hopes as we celebrate a milestone in our 150-year history—the University of Illinois Sesquicentennial.
This is a special moment for us. We were among the original 37 public land-grant universities established by the Morrill Act of 1862. Five years later, we officially claimed our place in that history and we have been shaping the future since 1867.
Our Sesquicentennial launched last February on the anniversary date of our founding legislation and will conclude with our 2018 Commencement. It is a 15-month commemoration of the people and accomplishments that made us proud for 150 years. It is also a chance to frame our vision, our hopes and our aspirations for what our University will bring to society in the next 150.
This University wasn’t founded to dwell on the past, but to actively imagine and actively engage with the world around us to deliver a better future. We have changed to meet the needs of each generation. We are not the same University today. We are bigger. We are better. And now we are setting out to redefine the land-grant mission for the 21st century.
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I am absolutely optimistic about our future. This is the University that has brought us the modern web browser, the visible LED, special education and introduced us to a third branch on the tree of life—just to name a few. Consider how much brighter and better our world is with these and so many other Illinois innovations and ideas.
I invite you all to join in as many of the Sesquicentennial events as you can this year and to celebrate our great history. I also ask you to join us in thinking about how we will build on that foundation and shape ourselves to be the University that our state, nation and world need for this generation and beyond.
We want to make this a celebration of all the very good works the University of Illinois will do today, tomorrow and forever. And no one understands just what we can do together better than our alumni.
Thanks for joining in all of the excitement this year.
Robert J. Jones