26, No. 3, Aug. 3, 2006
Project to spotlight campus
impact on Chicago
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
With more than half the population of Illinois residing in four counties
in the Chicago area – Cook, DuPage, Lake and Will counties – and
nearly 60 percent of Urbana’s students coming from high schools
there, the Chicago area is vital to the work of the UI’s Urbana
Although the Urbana campus has an extensive presence in the Chicago area and
reaches tens of thousands of people each year with programs such as 4-H, the
I space Gallery and educational activities, the quantity and breadth of the campus’s
impact on the Chicago area often go unrecognized.
But the Chicago Imprint project aims to spotlight the significance of the UI’s
flagship campus to the state’s largest city.
Recently announced by Chancellor Richard Herman and managed by Public Affairs,
the Chicago Imprint project is documenting the contributions that the Urbana
campus makes to the Chicago area in order to better serve constituencies there
while fostering private and public partnerships that will sustain the research,
education and outreach initiatives of the campus.
“The goal of this project is to give us a full understanding of our presence
so that we can both benchmark our progress and ensure high quality in existing
programs,” Herman said.
Campus administrators gathered information about Chicago-area activities in 2004
through a project called Chicago Footprint, but engaging with Chicago has taken
on renewed importance in order for the campus to remain competitive and enhance
its reputation as a global leader. Herman’s strategic goals for the campus
emphasized the importance of strengthening engagement efforts in Chicago to reinvigorate
recruitment of undergraduate students from the region.
One of the world’s great cities, Chicago “is a dynamic, growing urban
contact that provides us with the ideal platform for designing research and engagement
that address the societal problems of our nation and our world,” Herman
said. The campus strategic plan lists six pilot programs – in areas such
as education, entrepreneurship, and youth math and science initiatives – that
Herman planned to launch to serve people in the Chicago region and foster a stronger,
more widely recognized presence for the Urbana campus there.
Last fall, Public Affairs staff members gathered data from campus units about
their Chicago-area activities for the Chicago Imprint 2006 report. Campus units
reported 310 initiatives in progress in the Chicago area valued at more than
The initiatives included a traffic safety study on the Dan Ryan Expressway by
Imad L. Al-Qadi, the Founder Professor of Engineering and director of the Illinois
Center for Transportation, that resulted in direct savings of $3 million – and
indirect savings of $8 million – for the Illinois Department of Transportation – and
safer travel for the hundreds of thousands of motorists who use the expressway
The Chicago Imprint 2006 report, which can be viewed on the Chicago Imprint Web
site at www.publicaffairs.uiuc.edu/chicagoimprint, briefly describes each of
the initiatives undertaken during the past year, including the approximate numbers
of people reached, estimated costs, sources of funding and contact people. The
initiatives are classified in six categories: research, academics, recruitment,
alumni development, public engagement and communications.
The real-time, Bluestem-protected Web site being created for the project will
limit access to UI faculty and staff members, but a public site will be developed.
In spring 2007, a searchable database of Chicago Imprint information will go
online that will allow viewers to create and print customized reports from the
Systematic data collection and entry for the FY07 report will begin in mid-October
and be updated quarterly.
In addition, a checkbox was added to grant-proposal transmittal forms to flag
projects related to the Chicago area to ensure they get added to the database.
Over the next few months, Public Affairs staff members will be working with contact
people in each unit and with campus Strategic Planning Committees to refine the
data-gathering process, such as identifying additional measures of Illinois’ impact
on Chicago. Additionally, they will be monitoring the reciprocal effects on Illinois
of its heightened presence in Chicago, such as the impact on student enrollment
at the Urbana campus and alumni giving.
An additional activity category – corporate business and government activities – has
been identified that will be added to the 2007 report, Campbell said.