20, No. 10, Nov. 16, 2000
Trustees discuss land purchases, chancellor searches, projects
Becky Mabry , Assistant Editor
(217) 244-1072; email@example.com
The UI Board of Trustees agreed the university should begin negotiating
to purchase 641 acres of land in Piatt County, adjacent to the Robert
If purchasing negotiations with the owner fails, the trustees authorized
the use of its power of eminent domain to acquire the land. The trustees
met Nov. 8 and 9 in the Pine Lounge at the Illini Union on the Urbana
The acreage being discussed is a holding of the Art Institute of Chicago
that recently has gone up for sale. The property borders both sides
of the tree-lined road that is the entrance to the park. Pieces of the
property have one of the best stands of wild Virginia blue bells in
the state, according to university planners, and it is contiguous to
a rookery of blue herons. About one-third of the land is tillable.
UI officials told the trustees that acquiring the land is in the interests
of the universitys educational and conservation missions. The
Sangamon River also flows through the property. The action provides
that the UI Foundation acquires the property and leases it over the
next 10 years to help defray operating and acquisition costs. Money
for purchase is available from the FY2001 Institutional Funds Operating
Budget of the Urbana campus.
Trustees also heard Nov. 8 that searches for new chancellors at the
Springfield and Urbana campuses are proceeding well. The chair of the
search committee at Springfield said the candidate pool is large and
deep and members have begun checking references. The committee hopes
to have a list of candidates to the president by Dec. 15 and it is hoped
that interviews can begin in January.
The Urbana search committee, chaired by Professor Tom Ulen of the College
of Law, met for the first time Nov. 8. Committee members agreed to place
ads in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times, Chicago
Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and other periodicals that reach those in
Ulen said the committee also agreed to employ a search firm. A brochure
and package of material about the university and the Urbana campus is
being prepared to send to candidates. The search committee will meet
next after Thanksgiving. Chancellor Michael Aiken will be resigning
"It is paramount that we have good people in these two positions,"
said Trustee Susan Gravenhorst. "Im anxious to see the results
of both search committees efforts."
Trustees saw a three-dimensional model of the new Thomas M. Siebel Center
for Computer Science, which will share a two-block area on north campus
with the new building for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.
The Siebel Center will have about 224,000 total square feet, be four
stories high and have a large expanse of glass facing north toward a
large Quad area that will be shared with the NCSA building. The building
has been designed to continue the traditional look of the campus and
its red brick and limestone exterior will match the look of other buildings
on campus, according to architect Jon Jackson of the firm Bohlin, Cywanski
The building is a $74 million project, funded with a gift from alumnus
Siebel and the state. Completion is expected in the summer of 2003.
Trustees also approved a new look for the plaza in front of University
Hall on the Chicago campus. A Quad area with grass and sidewalks fronts
University Hall, the tallest building on the UIC campus. A committee
sought the help of artist Vito Acconci of New York City who is renowned
for creations of "public art" in large cities around the country
Acconcis vision includes walkways of rough composite concrete
that radiate out from the front of University Hall in a shadow pattern,
according to UIC art history professor Peter Bacon Hales. It will have
sitting areas and it will be easy for students to pass from the pavement
to the grassy areas. The landscape will feature berms and rises. Shallow
reflective pools will be located near University Hall to mirror the
building, and two stainless steel screens have been designed on both
sides of the main entrance to reach up to the second-story of the building.
The screens will be covered with a fast-growing vine that will be green
in the spring and summer and turn red in the fall and winter. The vine
will retain most of its leaves in cold weather, Hales said.
"These will be like waterfalls of greenery announcing the building,"
A large parking lot adjacent to the building will be converted to expanses
of lawn with trees, and a very small parking lot will be put on the
south side of the building, Hales said, to accommodate emergency vehicles
and to provide a few parking spaces for upper-level administrators.
Because of Acconcis reputation, this completed work of public
art will be a landmark for Chicago and will bring UIC prestige and draw
visits from art patrons around the country, Hales said.
Trustee Gerald Shea wondered why there wasnt one big piece of
art, like the Picasso statue at the Chicago Civic Center. Trustee Kenneth
Schmidt explained that the entire plaza must be considered by itself
a work of art by Acconci, rather than one piece of art in a limited
In other matters, UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning presented a report on
her visions and goals for the campus and said the condensed version
is that the campus "is becoming the nations model public
urban research university."
Among the goals established for the campus is the enhancement of undergraduate
recruitment and retention. Manning said recruitment and graduation rates
have improved recently, but they are not where they need to be. She
said undergraduate students need more opportunities to participate in
At the graduate level, work is being done to reshape the life sciences
doctoral programs "in ways that the life sciences have reshaped
themselves in the last decades," she said.
Distance learning for post-baccalaureate degree students is very strong,
and in fact there is no dropout rate among those students. But the distance
education programs need to be expanded and aggressively marketed, she
"I continue to think distance-learning programs for post-baccalaureate
professionals is a niche we need to look at," Manning said.
Another goal is the continued recruitment of first-rate faculty to the
campus, as well as the recruitment of under-represented faculty and
Fiscal stability in the hospital and clinics remains a high priority,
as well as the timely completion of the South Campus Development. She
said she personally is going to make a concentrated effort to increase
levels of private funds raised. In 2000, levels are considerably higher
than just six years ago, she said, but still need to be increased. Endowments
in 2000 are $107 million, compared with $39 million in 1994, she said.
Planned gifts are at $36 million, compared with $4.8 million in 1994.
Also at the trustees meeting, Loren Taylor of the Alumni Association
reported that the organization is the second-largest dues-based alumni
association in the country with 123,603 members. It has more total memberships
than the memberships of five other Big 10 schools combined.
Taylor told the trustees of several initiatives taken this year, including
the mailing of the Illinois Alumni magazine to 250,000 alumni, including
nonmembers, and a Census 2000 form. The AA is also offering lifetime
e-mail addresses to members.
Sidney Micek, president of the UI Foundation, reported that Campaign
Illinois total gifts are at $1.478 billion as of Sept. 30. By the end
of the calendar year, the amount is expected to reach $1.5 billion.
Goals of the UI Foundation are to increase levels of private giving
by increasing its prospective donor base. Currently, the Foundation
is able to contact only about 30 percent of the total donor pool, Micek
He said additional endowment money would be an effective way to compete
for top faculty and draw the best students. At the Chicago campus, he
said money is needed for the medical school and in time a new performing
arts center. The Springfield campus needs a new student union to support
incoming freshmen and sophomore students next fall. And the College
of Business and Management needs a new building, Micek said.
At Urbana, the libraries need improved financial support and the School
of School Work needs a new building.
Trustee Kenneth Schmidt ended the presentations by pointing out that
one item on his "wish list" is money for Allerton Park. He
said about $4 million worth of maintenance has been deferred and that
the park and its infrastructure are deteriorating.
"My plea is that this be placed on the front burner," Schmidt
said. "We all recognize it as a valuable asset to the university
and it needs money in order to retain its value."