Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chancellor Phyllis Wise "Gets" Public Engagement

Chancellor Wise sets a strong, positive example for everyone at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. This initiative is just one moe example of her leadership.
by Ann Abbott

It is very encouraging to work in a university in which the Chancellor seems to really understand what public engagement is and its importance. For us. For others. For students. For faculty. For image and branding, sure. But also for real exchanges of information and intellectual advancements that wouldn't happen in other ways.

We received the message below from Chancellor Wise today. I feel that her voice from above frames the work that my Spanish students do in their community service learning. It legitimizes, in a way, their service to our local Spanish-speakers. It echoes the importance that they find in their work beyond campus.

I also hope that our department--the Department of Spanish, Italian & Portuguese--can come up with a project that reflects our commitment to languages and cultures.

Thank you, Chancellor Wise, for this message and this project.

To All of Our Campus Community:

As you know, part of the land grant mission of the University of Illinois is to engage and serve the public and our local communities.  During the Visioning Future Excellence at Illinois process, I met with a number of corporate executives in Chicago.  One of the things that really impressed me was how many of them talked about programs where they encouraged their employees to go out and serve their communities together on a specified day.  As part of National Volunteer Week this spring (April 21-27) I would like to initiate a Community-Campus Day of Service here at Illinois. It is my hope that this will become a new tradition here on our campus.

On Saturday, April 20th, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will kick off National Volunteer Week with our inaugural Community-Campus Day of Service.  Units are encouraged to participate in or hold activities that benefit the local community on this day or at any time during the week.  One of the projects that is already being planned  on April 20th will involve packaging 146,000 meals - one thousand for every year since the University was chartered - that will be donated to local food banks and distributed to the many needy families right here in Urbana-Champaign.  We will need 350-400 volunteers for this project alone, and I am inviting all students, staff, and faculty to take part in this day of service.

Illinois is partnering with the United Way and local Rotary Clubs to organize other projects as well.  We will celebrate our commitment to the community in the afternoon after projects are completed with a casual reception at the Indi go Art Gallery in downtown Champaign.

Several campus units, including the Office of Public Engagement, the Office of Volunteer Programs, the Activities and Recreation Center, and Student Dining and Residential Programs, have already agreed to sponsor the Community-Campus Day of Service.  I encourage other units to sponsor or to get involved in this campus-wide initiative. Sarah Zehr from the College of Engineering has volunteered to lead the coordination of the event.

I hope you will join me in participating in one of these projects, and encourage those in your units to participate as well.  This is a wonderful opportunity to work as a team to benefit our community and demonstrate our commitment to public engagement.  You can learn more about the Day of Service and register to volunteer or report a project that your unit is working on at

We are fortunate to live in such a vibrant community, which is one of the strengths of our university. Thank you for your commitment to making our community an even better place to live for everyone in the Illinois family.

Best wishes,

Phyllis Wise
Vice President, University of Illinois
Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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