Gene Reineke: In the face of all of the challenges facing the State of Illinois these days, why are you optimistic about the future of the state and, in particular, the University of Illinois?
President Killeen: Illinois has some of the world's leading research universities and scientists. There is an opportunity to increase connections between the Illinois business community and this state's great universities. Discoveries in the laboratory have the chance to develop into products and new companies. I am optimistic about the future of Illinois and I plan to take advantage of our state’s unique position at the forefront of industry and academia to help lead the University of Illinois forward by making the most of the opportunity before us.
Gene Reineke: Will you mention a few of the "discoveries, ideas, and inventions" that have come out of the U of I that benefit our society?
President Killeen: As our 2015 Office of Technology Management annual report states, in the last 15 years the University of Illinois has created programs and services that support innovation and entrepreneurship across all of our campuses and various stakeholders. We have indeed achieved economic and societal impact. For example, we have donated patent rights to our number one prescribed protease inhibitor for patients, Prezista, which is the first treatment for multi drug resistant HIV. Of course, along with several sister research institutions, the University of Illinois was key in making the internet possible by inventing the first web browser and contributing to other milestone accomplishments.
As a matter of fact, we remain a leader today, ranked #21 on Reuters list of the 100 Most Innovative Universities worldwide.
The University of Illinois is home to the first LED lighting systems, the plasma display panel, home air conditioning systems, wearable electronics, even the first sound-on-film movie technology. These are just a few of the countless notable inventions and discoveries that have been and continue to be made possible by our great university.
Gene Reineke: What is your overarching strategy for the University to continue enhancing its reputation and role in Illinois?
President Killeen: The University of Illinois is a historic institution that has always played a leading role in shaping what Illinois is, both economically and socially. The University will continue to execute its mission with excellence and in so doing, will make sure the great state of Illinois has the talent it needs to forge its own bright future.
Success today no longer means being a regional leader, but a global one, and the University of Illinois is certainly capable of rising to that challenge. Our vision is to not only position ourselves as a leader in the Midwest, but as an engine of innovation that leads industry and research across the globe. Through our university’s continued excellence we will help Illinois remain competitive with its partners and help inspire generations of talented people from all walks of life to call Illinois home.
Gene Reineke: What pathways (how do you intend to get there) do you plan on taking to achieve this (see above question)?
President Killeen: There are a few paths that we’ll take to continue enhancing the reputation and national/global role of the university:
- We will define initiatives to attract investments, grow the innovation economy, and train the next generation of the workforce.
- We will leverage our university's statewide presence to connect existing innovation resources and create a culture of collaboration.
- We will engage the university's intellectual capital and deploy our physical resources to continue creating society-changing inventions.
Gene Reineke: How does the University of Illinois compare itself against other members of the Big Ten conference academically?
President Killeen: We firmly believe that in both academics and athletics our objectives remain the same: to strive to be the best. The University of Illinois equals or exceeds our sister institutions of the Big 10 conference in both arenas, but we will not slow down. Rather we will accelerate our drive and determination to being recognized as the leader in all that we endeavor to undertake.
Gene Reineke: What do you consider the primary mission of the University of Illinois to be - teaching or research?
President Killeen: As a land grant university, founding member of the Big 10 conference and member of the Association of American Universities we absolutely have a student-centered approach where students are the focus of everything. In order for the university to successfully pursue its mission, the next generation of scholars and leaders must receive an education that is second to none in a community that feels like home. We are always 100% committed to the education, training, and development of our students by some of the finest faculty in the world.
Part of delivering the absolute best education for our students is continuing our tradition of groundbreaking research and innovation. It is our history of excellence that draws some of the finest students from Illinois and all over the world to the University of Illinois. The university will continue to be a world class center for engineering, for the sciences and for humanities and the arts, as well as one of the top 25 American research universities as recognized by the Center for Measuring University Performance.