With Illinois Campaign Launch and Alumni Celebration


The Quad is the hub, the center, the
heart- Where you learn-
And make lifelong friends. Where you’ll take a break-
And make connections. On your left you’ll see that’s Lincoln Hall-
Followed by the English building- Where a Pulitzer is probably underway right now. And on your right there’s Davenport Hall and the Chemistry Annex- Where new epiphanies and
discoveries are happening every single day. Why Illinois? We are a University of
distinction-
At the heart of Illinois- Propelling bright minds-
And finding solutions to the world’s challenges. We create and deliver access to the future.
We discover what’s next. We lead in innovation. We are a place of
intersections where the best minds come together to change the world. Intersections? Intersections. Across ideas- And disciplines-
To discover the never-before. To change the world? To change the world.
Change the world! Does Illinois really change the world? Illinois is the origin of innovation
that impacts lives every single day. [music playing] [applause] [music playing] Illinois is the origin of extraordinary.
The land-grant movement in the 1860s began as a concept- a belief that higher
education is for the public good. And the breadth of the good to come from
Illinois is nothing short of remarkable. From our very beginning, we have
connected higher education to all segments of society in enormously
important ways. The impact we have made on the world is undeniable and indelible.
So welcome, each and every one of you, and thank you for joining us on this very
special evening. You are what makes our University a singular place of learning
and creation. You are students, you are alumni, our faculty, our research partners, and our community. You are donors who make so much possible. Today we celebrate all we
have achieved, and begin to imagine what is yet to come. With you.
With Illinois. [applause] Wherever you are in this ever-changing
world, you can’t go a day without feeling the impact of innovations from Illinois.
From MRIs to web browsers, from YouTube to affordable prostheses. Today and every
day, ideas from Illinois change the world. I could not be more proud, more
excited, and more thrilled to share with you just a glimpse of what we have
accomplished and what we aspire to achieve at Illinois. In the Midwest we
tend to be a bit humble and hard-working. We don’t usually shine a spotlight on
our achievements, but tonight we’re going to boast and we’re going to brag. And
we’re- [applause] We are going to recognize the impact we have made and we’re going to
share just a few of the truly remarkable things to come.
From the day we were founded, we insisted the world redefine the word impossible.
With Illinois, one thing is always true: This is a singular place of
extraordinary intersections. We see disciplines and inspiration, brilliant
minds and aspiration, coming together to create innovation every single day.
Here, we will cure diseases, we will relieve hunger, we will make big data smarter, we
will inspire through our music, we will transform the humanities, we will build communities, we will revolutionize healthcare, we will reimagine education. Tomorrow, with you, with Illinois, lives will be touched and changed,
improved, and even saved. Tomorrow we will change the world.
With you. With Illinois. [applause] It is no ordinary work which we are set to do, and it comes to us under no ordinary
circumstances. We are not here to reproduce, in this new
locality, some old and well-known style of college or university. The hungry eyes of toiling millions are
turned, but mingled hope and fear upon us, to see
what new and better solution we can possibly offer of the great problems on
which their well-being and destiny depend. [music playing] How did we get here, someplace familiar
and unexpected all at once, and where do we go next? How about the ends of the earth, or the origins of the universe, or an underwater
world unexplored? A world filled with creativity,
a world filled with courage. Let’s engineer the future of medicine
and, while we’re at it, find a way to feed the whole world. For 150 years we’ve made
discoveries that have changed us forever. How do we match the greatness of that
legacy and build a future filled with promise,
with passion, with curiosity,
with the support of hundreds of thousands? With you. With Illinois. [water droplets] [music playing] Illinois is a place of distinction. A
place where a single drop of inspiration can nurture a kernel of innovation to
grow into something unprecedented. Illinois is a University where, drop by drop, ideas can pound into real solutions. A university that provides fertile
ground for ideas to thrive. My name is Lucas Frye. I’m a grateful recipient of
scholarship support throughout my undergraduate and graduate years. In 2015, I went to a hackathon weekend: a three-day weekend put on by an Illinois
student organization where, over the course of 54 hours, teams formed ideas,
refined those ideas, reflected, and refined those ideas again all in an effort to
create a viable business startup. On my team was an engineering prodigy,
Joey Varikooty, and he thought, “What if.” “What if I could build a sensor that
could impact people across the globe?” Actually, Joey was a young engineering
student, possibly a prodigy, but he hated waiting for his laundry to
dry. So he thought, “What if I could build a sensor that would alert me
when my clothes were dry?” And then I at this event, a farm kid from Central Illinois- shout out, Mason County, Illinois- heard his concept and thought, “What if- what if we could use this sensor to help feed the world?” But actually, I was a recent
ACES grad, certainly a farm kid, and working on an MBA and thought, “Could this
have a viable business application?” Fortuitously, the result was all of the
above. The result was our startup business, Amber Agriculture, and today we
are creating new sensors and leveraging technology to help farmers manage,
protect, and market their green more efficiently. [applause] Along our path of development, we’ve
received outreach from farmers, grain companies, and processors across the
Midwest, Canada, Brazil, Europe, Australia, and China. The potential benefits farmers
in the food chain can have with this intersection of engineering and
agriculture is truly profound. So, we actually could benefit people all around
the globe, and we could help farmers feed the world, all with a really exciting
business application. As for Joey’s laundry? Who knows what this drop of an
idea could flow into next. [music playing] We have a long history of passion and
preeminence at Illinois. For many of us, it started with Tim Nugent. Tim had a
fierce and relentless mission to build a welcoming community that supported
students of all abilities. He saw their strengths, their potential, and their
ambition. He envisioned a future that removed barriers and promoted equality. He was undeterred. What he started at Illinois in 1948 was the first
comprehensive program for people with disabilities and higher education. From
there, his advocacy changed access around the world. Tim also recognized the value
of sport, not only in the lives of those with disability, but for changing the
perceptions of others. His vision for athletics found fertile ground at Illinois. Illinois athletes have competed at every Paralympic Games since the
inaugural games in 1960–and they’ve medaled in every single one of them. Today-
[applause] Today we are one of 18 US Olympic and Paralympic training sites in the US, and
year after year, as coach, I see sport practice at its highest level in
training rooms and across finish lines. At Illinois, we are stronger because we
have 70 years of commitment to accessibility to build upon. Our coaches
and mentors partner with academic departments across campus to enhance
this world-class program. I am continuing to build on our rich legacy. I’m an
athlete and an inventor I think about disability and design and figure out how. Like designing a glove for wheelchair athletes that is stronger, better, and
less expensive. I’m an elite athlete and I’m building a business as an
entrepreneur, a journey that I began as a student. With Illinois, I had access to
everything from unparalleled training resources to 3d printing and
visualization labs. At the intersection of legacy, creativity, and ambition, we are
achieving the remarkable. Here, on this campus, we have the most accomplished
Paralympic team of all time! This Team USA won nearly 40% of all medals awarded
to the U.S. Track and Field team in the 2008 Beijing, 2012 London, and 2016 Rio
Paralympic Games. [applause] So please join us in welcoming to the
stage, five of our very own Illini members of Team USA! [music]
[applause] I would like to introduce you to Amanda
McGrory, Daniel Romanchuk, Kelsey Lefevour, Arielle Rausin, Josh
George, and Susannah Scaroni! Under Coach Blakeney, these elite athletes, along with
the rest of their team, have won 16 gold medals, 11 silver medals, and 14 bronze
medals in the past three Paralympic Games. [applause] There’s more! They have won the
Boston, London, New York City, and Chicago Marathons, and hold 12 World Records! All
from here. All from the heart of Illinois! [applause] [music] [applause] [music] Here, at Illinois, as a journalism student,
I get to learn about and tell stories of people with diverse perspectives, stories
drawn from people who come from city and village, from downstate and around the
globe. We are a University at the heart of Illinois that humbly produces the
extraordinary. When I was an undergrad in India,
I wanted to go on to earn a PhD degree and a school of greatest engineering
esteem is Illinois–a reputation that spans the globe. When I first arrived, I
definitely expected to receive a world-class education but what I did not
expect was the welcome. In the heart of Illinois are open fields, open minds, and boundless opportunities. I, too, came to Illinois from overseas,
just a few years ahead of you, Sai. I was attracted to Urbana because it was
here that the real cutting-edge research in my specialist subfield, condensed
matter physics, was being done. I enjoy here the company of an amazing
constellation of colleagues, with whom I interact and collaborate to advance
research. I also was very impressed by the collegial atmosphere here, and I’m
now proud to call Illinois home for myself and my family. At Illinois, Information Science is yet
another discipline of distinction. In my journey to become a librarian, Illinois
gave me much more than a classroom education, but an exposure to ideas and
cultures from around the world. I came to the University from a very small town
and a high school with less than 150 people. This College at the heart of
Illinois transformed my perspective from Midwestern to international. The heart of
Illinois is its pipeline of innovation. I’m on the Board of
Illinois Ventures, a University-affiliated seed fund and incubator from
which we support the ideas, technologies, and innovations created right here at
Illinois. And from here, those innovations support and fuel businesses and startups
across this country and around the world. My time here was formative, both
personally and professionally. I embraced and enjoyed Greek life. I’m here this
weekend with my fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, celebrating its 100th anniversary of its
presence on this campus. Brothers for life, from the heart of Illinois. At Illinois, curiosity is encouraged and nurtured from an early age. I am a
graduate of the University of Illinois Laboratory High School and the mother
the mother of two recent Uni alums, as well. Here, students are challenged to
reach beyond their comfort zone, to be intellectually ambitious, and more. Do you
want to be scholarly and social? An athlete? A musician? An engineer? With you, with Illinois, we can continue to make this extraordinary high school a public
resource with no tuition and accessible to the local community. The heart of Illinois is welcoming. I earned three degrees from the University of Illinois
including my law degree and my MBA. As the chief council for employment at the
United States Senate, I was the lead attorney for all 100 senators. I
established that Senate legal office, and I managed people with degrees from Ivy
League universities. Illinois gave me those opportunities and it prepared me
well for them. I am so grateful to be back and to give back to the University
that has given me so much. [applause] [music] [Music removed due to copyright] [music] [applause] [music] What is design thinking? It’s a human-centered approach to innovation that lies at the intersection of what people
need and want, what technology makes possible, and what the marketplace and
society will adopt. It comes about by applying the profound intellectual power
of people across disciplines, experiences and expertise. It’s asking “what if…?” and
“why not…?” and “how about…?” by approaching innovation from every conceivable and
inconceivable angle, with every possible and previously impossible answer, and
testing and refining and prototyping, again and again. It lies at the
intersection of where curiosity collides with creativity. where ideas turn into
action. At Illinois we are building the Siebel Center for Design. 60,000 square feet of never-before and
nowhere-else. We are redefining immersive, collaborative, and innovative, and
inspiring the unique, better, deeper, and broader. It was designed by hundreds so
it could be a resource for all. It was designed for those who use its spaces
today and to evolve for the next century. The Siebel Center for design will
maximize opportunities for interaction to inspire innovation. From mobile phones
to medications, software to social services, clean water to augmented
reality, the Siebel Center for Design will support all fields by fostering
design-thinking academic ideals to reimagine how we learn and how we develop ideas. We’ll break ground between Huff Hall and the Art and Design Building,
creating an actual link–an intersection– among engineering, business, product
design, computer science, architecture, liberal arts and sciences, and the fine
arts. Its spaces are designed to remove
barriers. Makerspaces, workshops collaborative studios, a place for
large-scale construction and graded access for big prototypes. A large
workshop for 3D printing, metal fabrication, laser and water jet cutting,
CNC machining. Digital media studios and immersive technologies for virtual
reality applications. Large gathering spaces and meeting rooms and galleries
to encourage more informal interaction and spark the entirely new. The Siebel
Center for Design will be unmatched in its transformative impact. A
state-of-the-art facility that connects disciplines and embeds design thinking
with design doing. One that will position Illinois as the destination for students
and thought leaders who want to solve global challenges and make significant
change for people everywhere in the world. The impact of the Siebel Center
for Design will be truly immeasurable. And it’s all just getting
started due the commitment and vision of one man. I believe that when the Design Center is completed at the University of Illinois
in Urbana, it will be the finest design center on the planet Earth. I think it
will be at the nexus of communication, in the center of the campus for people
to get together, to work together, to get to know one another, to learn how to
solve problems. They can create important things, wrestle with new ideas, develop
new products. Think about the problems that we need to solve in the next 50
years. Think about the issues related to the environment, the economy, the
healthcare, the population, food, to water- there are some enormously challenging
problems that we need to solve. Great institutions like the University
of Illinois at Urbana need to play an important role in educating the population, in educating the workforce, for an economy that we will see in 20, 30, 40 years that’s unimaginable today. As we power into the 21st century,
I think design centers and design thinking is becoming a cornerstone of
every major institution. This is the place where everybody wants to be; this
is the place where things are done; this is the place where people create,
where they innovate where they ideate; and hopefully, it’s a place where people will
learn skills that will allow them to learn how to do great things. [music] I grew up in Pilsen at a time when
necessities were scarce. My neighborhood in Chicago was my home,
so even when I was homeless, I was still blessed and loved where it came from
and the family I was with. Despite my determination and abilities, I didn’t
expect I would be able to go to Illinois. And so I am here today, so
grateful to say, a current student of scholarship, first-generation, living my
family’s aspirations at university, propelled by those who believe
accessibility to education should be for all. When you support scholarships at
Illinois you give of yourself so I can give of me, by pursuing a degree in
public health. One life transformed may transform
countless more. And so thank you for believing in opportunity, and giving
students like me the chance for an education so that we can give back. Thank you
to all of those who give that spark that we need to set our future ablaze, because
together, we can propel more bright minds to change the world.
With you, with Illinois [applause]
[music] [music] In the right environment, with the right
opportunities and support, there are no limits to what one can achieve, how far a
person can go. I come from a small town in rural Missouri and, ultimately, ended
up in outer space. [applause] In high school, I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. At Illinois, I pursued that dream with aeronautical engineering and
Air Force ROTC. I also played football and joined a fraternity. Go Pikes! My time
at Illinois was definitely challenging –as it should have been–and Illinois
propelled my interest with the support and flexibility necessary to accommodate
all those many pursuits. Without a doubt, the opportunities I’ve had in the
military, with the Air Force, at NASA, were available because of my educational
experiences. I love the exploration of space, but I also love coming back, and giving back with the goal of propelling more
bright minds farther than they imagined. A student once told me that she didn’t
know research could look like this. She was referring to innovative research at
the intersection of the humanities, social sciences, and biology committed to
improving the lives of low-income black women living in neighborhoods with high
levels of violence. One of the most important things about Illinois is its
land-grant mission and how that mission means taking advances from research and
thrusting those discoveries outside of the university and beyond the campus
into the community. It is my hope that the research improves the lives of
Illinois residents and even impacts communities globally. I am fortunate to
work towards these discoveries with women in the Englewood neighborhood of
Chicago. In these culturally rich but challenging communities, we seek to
better understand how the trauma of gun violence affects their mental health and
physical health, and especially for those mothers who have lost their children to
gun violence. Illinois has enabled me to work with talented faculty and staff and
students across a wide range of disciplines, and by asking difficult
questions concerning the consequences of social inequality and sharing our
research experience, we seek to eradicate barriers between the community and the
University. At Illinois, we have the opportunity–indeed, the
responsibility–to use what we’ve learned in our research to improve society. It has
become exceedingly clear that we must create spaces where diverse types of
students and their genius can thrive and where no limits can be placed on what
research can look like. History is another common language, one
that bridges the past and the present. When I teach the bright minds who come
before me, I tell them: facts do not change, how we understand them does. As a
boy I grew up spending time at my Abuela’s in the Bronx looking out the
back window across the street into a cemetery. It wasn’t too much later that I
discovered one of my baseball heroes was actually buried there–Alex Pompez, a
Cuban American Negro League team owner. In researching his story, I learned that
the story of Latinos in baseball was often buried in discussions of black and
white. The facts did not change, but my understanding did. Bright minds are
propelled through discoveries like these, and that is where I got my students. To
that thrill of understanding historical figures that they read about. To
understand that we are historical actors. That, at times, grand achievements are
done by people their age. What are our students doing right now that is making
history, and what can we, those of us in this room, able to propel them to achieve? Today’s bright minds need many forms of
support, and every bright mind can benefit from a mentor. A carrying
connection providing that gentle nudge or full-on push when needed to propel
someone forward. I’ve always felt that one of the greatest things about Illinois is
the community surrounding it. In addition to the professors, the coaches, the
advisors, we have a community demonstrating behaviors that shape,
direct, and guide us all. These mentors not only show us the right way, but the
many ways that are available, the options and the opportunities. When I started as
an Illini athlete, I played in a heartbreaking 0-11 season–but
bounced back from that moment in time– going on and finished undergrad with a
degree and a role on a team that won the Big Ten playing in the Sugar Bowl. It was not only the innate
abilities of the team that delivered the championship, it was also the influence
of the leaders who courageously pushed that group to understand that we will
win. In parallel, it was not only the innate abilities that took me from a BS
in finance, to an MBA and a master’s from our School of Labor and Employment
Relations; a journey that’s brought me from Champaign to New York, to London, and
now to Singapore. The mentors I found here set the foundation, they encouraged
the sense of wonder, made clear all that was possible. They were always supporting,
always propelling bright minds. [music] Being a Fighting Illini to me means
playing next to, playing against the greatest competition in the country and
sometimes in the world, and doing the same in the classroom. It means being a
part of the biggest family I could ever ask for. It means that you pursue a standard of excellence in everything that you’re
involved in. That you have that fighting spirit inside of you and that you know that you’re playing for something bigger than yourself. You stand shoulder to shoulder with your teammates. It creates something that’s larger than all of us for us to support, and it’s something that we’ll be able to carry with us
after we graduate. I never would have made an Olympic team without being here and having the resources and the support that I did at Illinois. And so, when I
walked through Beijing Airport in 2008 and I hear an I-L-L, or when I hear the
same thing anywhere when I travel with my team now, that’s the support we have,
that’s the connection to this massive fan base, this alumni base. Illini Nation is everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Chicago or London
Shanghai. You have a Block I on your chest and it is inevitable with somebody
on the other side of the street will call out I-L-L. It’s huge for camaraderie
and supporting each other. It brings people together from different
departments in the university, different walks of life in the community. At the
end of the day these are our classmates these are people that we will all be
alums with together. It just makes you feel like you’re home, that they are
behind you 100%. Step out there, you’re really
representing not just Illinois athletics, representing this town, all the alums. It
is the probably most visible part of the university. But being an alum,
I know how great this university is and I know all the excellence in academics
and research and the professors are top-shelf across the world. So we need to
be on point as an athletic department and as an association to go out and
carry that banner, carry that excellence to represent the University. Being a part
of a team prepares you to represent something bigger than yourself our
student-athletes leave here prepared to literally accomplish anything that they
put their minds to. We take very seriously our obligation to try and grow
and develop the students who are part of our program, in terms of exposing them to
new thoughts and ideas, new perspectives, new backgrounds. To me that’s one of the
beautiful things about athletics, is it brings people together who maybe
otherwise would never have the opportunity to intersect each other. And
I think that that’s what people are looking for. They want to they want to be
part of something special. It’s been my life to be a part of this Illinois
family, and I’ve never been more inspired and more excited about the
future of our athletic department, ever. This is our athletic program. It doesn’t
belong to any particular coach, or any particular student-athlete, past or
present. This is a program that belongs to all of us, to the people. We want Fighting Illini Athletics to be a unifying force. I believe that athletics has that power.
We have the ability to bring people together in a way that very few things
can. Broadcaster: Deron for the tie – he’s got it! Illinois’s going to the Final Four!
Illinois’s going to the Final Four! Paul and I crossed paths playing pickup
games at the basketball court at the ARC, but wasn’t until our academic interests
intersected that we started on a common path to find a solution to a challenging
problem, crossing the blood-brain barrier to treat cancer. In 2006, my lab
discovered a compound called PAC-1, and quickly realized there were possibilities
for brain cancer patients. PAC-1 crosses the blood-brain barrier, a mechanism
critical for treating brain cancer but a trait that most anti-cancer drugs lack. I
read the paper Paul published about PAC-1, and was intrigued, fascinated. As a
veterinarian I had dogs as patients, but many times there were no good options
for treatment, no real hope for them, so I reached out to Paul. And that meeting
changed everything. We wanted to test this discovery, but did not want these
tests to be limited to laboratory animals. Treating a mouse that’s been
given cancer artificially is not the same as treating a pet dog with
naturally occurring cancer. Pet dogs live with us as family members, they share our
environment, and are exposed to the same toxins as we are. So their cancers are
more similar to ours. PAC-1 gave Tim’s dogs and their owners a real treatment
option when previously there wasn’t one. Our collaboration has been sustained as
part of a program called Anticancer Discovery from Pets to People at the
Carl Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. And given our success in interesting
results in pets, clinical trials of PAC-1 in human cancer patients have begun. The pets and their people who are willing to try PAC-1 launched this
discovery into a reality. They are the ones that made it possible to see what
has the potential for incredible human impact. And I’m happy to say that we have
few of our patients here tonight. Please join us in welcoming two of our star
patients, Pretzel and Breta! [music] we are deeply grateful to Pretzel and the Geschleider family, and Breta and the Cruz family. A new way to treat brain cancer
for all patients is a huge win for everyone, and the kind of solution we are
creating at Illinois that will change the world. [applause] [music] This is a story of before and after. Of
solutions to challenges. Of the world as it is, and the world as we want it to be
and as the world that we’re changing it to be. When I was a child I was visiting
family in Pakistan and I met a girl. She was missing a leg and was using a tree
branch for a crutch. She was seven years old, the same age I was at the time. I was
29 years old and in combat in Iraq, and I was struck with a roadside bomb and suffered a traumatic brain injury. I lost part of my right arm. I
realized immediately even at that young age the girl and I shared the same
heritage but had a drastically different quality of life. A dramatic difference in
available resources. I realized immediately when I went to college that
me and my fellow veterans have a drastically different experience than
other students, and drastically different available resources. There are
eleven point four million hand amputees worldwide. 80% are in developing nations.
Fewer than 3% can afford adequate prostheses. Five million service members
are expected to leave the military by 2020. 50% of those are expected to
pursue college, and 25% of those don’t make it past their first year. We are
creating solutions to these challenges. Here at Illinois, I advise and help raise
funds for the Chez Family Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education.
Here, we serve 400 veterans, 200 students 100 dependents, and provide specialty
housing for 14. We offer a highly customized technological, academic, and
emotional support to dramatically increase the chances of
success. Here at Illinois, I obtained my PhD in
Neuroscience, MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and I’m currently an MD
candidate. I bring all these experiences to the forming of PSYONIC, a company
wholly committed to providing exponentially better and affordable
prostheses to all. At the Center, our students form a community that understands that their unique experiences and we have support for physical and emotional trauma. We find a family that makes the transition from military
to civilian to student easier. At PSYONIC, we have a prosthetic
prototype with a machine learning algorithm that enables the hand to pinch
and grasp, that can enable the user to sense what it touches and regulate grip
strength that feels and functions more naturally, using silicone and rubber
instead of rigid plastic. And in the U.S., it will be completely covered by
insurance companies. [applause] At Illinois, I met Aadeel, and our collaboration provided this veteran with another resource. And PSYONIC with an
amazing partner. As I pursue my Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, I
also get to partner with Aadeel to help create a new hand- that can endure
the rigorous use Garrett subjects it to. While also being sensitive enough
for me to feel my daughter’s hand And we’re designing this hand to meet
our goal of affordability and availability to all with little or no
expense to those who need it so Aadeel and I- with you- are delivering real solutions to the world’s most profound problems. [music] [No Comment a cappella
sings “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”] [applause] [music] At Illinois, we are studying a paradigm-changing revolution in healthcare with have the world’s first engineering
focused college of medicine. Yes, engineering and medicine have converged
in many amazing ways but never as thoroughly, as comprehensively as what
we’re doing here and now. At Illinois, we’re creating an entirely different way of
thinking about and teaching the practice of medicine. And the outcomes will be
nothing short of profound. When we say that we’re combining these disciplines,
many assume our focus will be on devices: artificial hearts, and the like,
which are necessary and amazing, but why start an entire school if it’s not going
to be fundamentally different? Our engineering and data science are second
to none and we’re using that expertise to address a deeply unmet need: to
use technology to make medicine more human. Our inaugural class is selected
not just for academic aptitude, but for compassion, competence, curiosity, and
creativity. For every clinical course, our students will be required to
come up with a new idea to make healthcare delivery better for patients.
Why has the stethoscope or otoscope not been improved for generations? Technology exists to make these tools far more sensitive and accurate, or even
to capture the data remotely. Why do physicians rush through patient visits?
Why is technology not used to provide care for those without access? Finding
solutions to these challenges requires an entirely different way of thinking, which
requires a different way of teaching, and to do so, we are intersecting all
disciplines across campus. Our program will be an overlapping Venn diagram of
multiple different colleges from engineering to liberal arts, business to
education. We put out a call across campus to help create the curriculum and
over 300 faculty volunteered. This is beyond intersections and collaboration. This endeavor is truly campus-wide and community-wide. Many of our inaugural
faculty are here this evening. Please join me in recognizing their vision and commitment! [applause] To revolutionize medical care, we also
need a world-class health partner. Carle Health System saw the extraordinary
potential in this partnership and generously provided the first 100
million dollars to start a venture. Which is an amazing… start. It will take support to realize the vision, but the potential outcomes are apparent and we are confident support and momentum will continue to grow. Our first class will begin in July
of 2018, and we are on our way to making health care better, more affordable, more
accessible for all. From rural Illinois to large cities to anywhere–everywhere–in
the world. It is happening. It is happening here. Only here. With you. With Illinois. [applause] [music] When I was first a sophomore in high
school, I visited this campus as a member of the College of Agricultural, Consumer,
and Environmental Sciences’ Research Apprentice Program and, on that visit, it
showed me a world of opportunity I never imagined was available. I’m a first
generation college graduate from the University of Illinois. Illinois
challenged me, it pushed me, it provided me with a community of support that came
in the form of guidance, mentorship, financial assistance. People like Stacey
Cole, John Baum, Joseph Ballard, Tina Ville, Becky Roach, Terry Cummins,
thank you so much. The impact of my support that I received
is profound. Simply stated, without those people who I named, without the
college of ACES, without Illinois, I would not be here. Without them, my future, my
opportunities, and the way that I wanted to make a difference in the world would
be starkly different. Even an undergrad, as a typical broke student, I still made
an impact. I supported and participated in an initiative called the I Pay It
Forward: Students Helping Students Scholarship Campaign and continue to do
so today. We are students and recent graduates raising money to alleviate
financial hardship for students. There are too many Illinois students who start
their college journey only to leave this university due to financial obstacles. To
date, we have raised nearly seventy five thousand dollars from students, alumni,
and Friends of the College of ACES. These scholarships cover books, fees, and
necessities that would be otherwise unaffordable for our recipients. These
funds can be the difference between staying at Illinois and needing to leave.
The University of Illinois has invested so much in me, it is my obligation to do
what I can to make the most of this opportunity, to make a positive impact on
the world, and pay that investment forward to others whenever wherever I
can. I have always believed in the concept of
stewardship. Never forget where you came from. Never forget who gave you that one
chance in life, and then you become a steward of that chance, and foster that
opportunity for those yet to come. The Allegretti family believes in
stewardship. My oldest son, Joe, an alum, was the
president of Phi Gamma Nu here, and I watched him take that business
fraternity to the next level. My youngest son, Nick–and yes, a 6’5″, 320 pound Nicky–is a starting guard for the Fighting Illini, and I am watching him be
one of the leaders to take that team to the next level and become a Big Ten
Champion. And yes, once again, we will win. My wife, Tammy, an alum, and I seriously
could not be more appreciative of what this university has done for our family,
which is why we are annual I Fund givers, and we have made a pledge to
contribute to the new football performance center. Stewardship. From a
business perspective, I’m the managing partner of
Deloitte Chicago office. Our largest asset? People. Where do we get the
majority of our people from? The University of Illinois. Which is why my partners, and the
Deloitte Foundation, gave five million dollars to the University of Illinois
Deloitte Foundation Center for Business Analytics. Stewardship. So you all
remember where you got your chance. It’s incumbent upon us to remember that
chance that you were given, and foster it for the next generation.
Give back. Stewardship. One last ask: I want all of you across the street
tomorrow to watch us beat up on Rutgers. Thank you. As our Chancellor said today,
we are very humble, and while humility is a great thing, all too often I feel that
we do not brag enough about our University, about the remarkable
accomplishments we’ve had, the innovations that we create to have a
truly change on the world and on individual lives, some of which we’ve
seen here today. About staying true to our land-grant mission in terms of
trying to make sure that we can have accessibility to this University for
everyone. I too am a first-generation graduate. My parents didn’t want me to
graduate from just any college, they wanted me to graduate from the best
college. And, indeed, I did. Simply stated, I would not have had the
life that I have been so lucky to have had I not been here. 37 years ago, I was
hired by what was then Arthur Anderson and Anderson Consulting, now
Accenture, and I stayed there for 34 years, my entire career. I know that
without the brand of Illinois I would not have gotten that job. But that’s not
where Illinois has stopped impacting my life. Well, one, I met my best
friend here. She was my Illini guide in the crowd somewhere. I met my husband
because he joined into a conversation about what is the best University on the
planet. And in 2005 the Men’s Fighting Illini team got me through some pretty
rough chemotherapy. Illinois has given me a life that I never would have had, so I
support the University, our family supports it personally this year. Just
this year, we committed to, in perpetuity, three scholarships for the College of
Business and Athletics for students in need. I’ve served on the Alumni
Association Board, the College of Business Board, I’m in the class as much
as I can, and of course I have the supreme honor right now of being a
trustee. I do this to ensure that all of the benefits and opportunities that
were given to me, that I can help make sure that others get the same
opportunity. This university has given to everyone in the room, no matter if you’re
a student, faculty, community, whatever it is. Now, more than ever, given the
circumstances, we know that it’s time that we need to give back to our
University. We have such a great story to tell. We need to tell it, we need the
media to help us tell it, and we need to make sure that we’re paying it back. And
I’ve always wanted to do this so please don’t let me down.
I-L-L
I-N-I Thank you! A tough act to follow. My time
on campus was nothing less than transformational. It paved the way for me
to achieve personal and professional success that, at the time, I never dreamed
possible. And, over the past 150 years, Illinois has shaped the future of more
than a half a million alumni just like me, as well as countless others who have
benefited from our innovations, discoveries, and collaborations. You know,
we should not wait–no, we cannot wait–to ensure this opportunity remains strong
and viable for all. Private support is essential to ensuring public
universities continue to be places where progress and innovation can flourish. Our
gifts take on increased importance in times of uncertain federal and state funding.
It’s a sign of faith and confidence that our collective strength can change the
future. With you, we will continue to elevate the values that make Illinois
distinctive: a sense of boundless aspiration, collaborative research, and a global
perspective. And we will continue to honor the people who have shaped the
culture and character of this place: our students, our faculty, staff, alumni,
friends, and donors. When we give at every level, we will deliver the next Internet
browser, cure a disease, feed a hungry world, write a
Pulitzer Prize-winning story, or develop a Nobel prize-winning discovery. We are
the ones who ensure bright minds have every opportunity. With
you, and with Illinois, let’s ensure we continue to change the world. Our achievements are remarkable. To
ensure our future, we’re excited to embark upon our most ambitious
campaign to date, with the goal of raising gifts to support Illinois students,
faculty, research, and infrastructure. Thanks to hundreds of thousands of gift
to date, we are almost halfway toward our 2.25 billion dollar goal. And I want to
say that again, in case you didn’t hear me: 2.25 billion dollar goal. Those gifts come from supporters in all
50 states, and over 100 countries around the world. With you, with Illinois, I know
we will achieve that goal and together, we will change the world. [music] To thy happy children of the future,
those of the past sent greetings. [music intensifies] [Marching Illini Drumline playing] [Marching Illini playing
Revised Entrance #3] [applause] [Marching Illini playing
“Illinois Loyalty] We’re loyal to you, Illinois,
We’re Orange and Blue, Illinois; We’ll back you to stand
‘Gainst the best in the land, For we know you have sand, Illinois,
Rah! Rah! So crack out that ball, Illinois,
We’re backing you all, Illinois. Our team is our fame protector,
On! boys, for we expect a victory from you, Illinois. Che-he, che-ha, che-ha-ha-ha!
Che-he, che-ha, che-ha-ha-ha! Illinois! Illinois! Illinois! Fling out that dear old flag of Orange and Blue, Lead on your sons and daughters fighting for you; Like men of old, on giants
placing reliance, shouting defiance: Oskee-wow-wow! Amid the broad green plains that nourish our land, For honest Labor and for Learning we stand, And unto thee we pledge our heart and hand, Dear Alma Mater, Illinois. [applause] I-L-L!
I-N-I! I-L-L!
I-N-I! I-L-L!
I-N-I! I-L-L I-N-I! Go, Illini, Go! [Marching Illini playing Oskee-Wow-Wow]
Oskee-wow-wow, Illinois! Our eyes are all on you. Oskee-wow-wow, Illinois!
Wave your Orange and your Blue, Rah! Rah! As the team trots our before you,
Every man stand up and yell, Back the team to gain a victory,
Oskee-wow-wow, Illinois! Hey! [Marching Illini playing William Tell Overture] To the left! [Marching Illini playing William Tell Overture] [applause] Stay with us to celebrate, and enjoy the
rest of your evening. Thank you for joining us for our celebration and
launch of our With Illinois campaign! [music]

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *