University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen on Monday will begin a multiday tour of Illinois to meet with lawmakers, business and higher education leaders, alumni and others to learn more about the ways the system can contribute to economic growth and societal well-being, discuss the system’s commitment to the public, and strengthen connections and foster collaboration across the state.
The tour will begin Monday in Harrisburg and, over three separate legs, includes stops from Carbondale to Peoria, the Quad Cities and Rockford before finally wrapping up in Chicago on Nov. 10. Killeen and other U of I System leaders participating in the tour have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and will be required to have tested negative before travel. They will also follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 protocols and the state mask mandate.
Killeen said he is eager to learn more about how the system and its universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield can help energize the Illinois economy for decades to come. The president will also discuss the impact already being created by the system’s Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), the homegrown SHIELD Illinois COVID-19 testing protocol that continues to protect schools and other organizations around the state, and the impact of the more than 23,000 degrees earned each year at system universities.
“The University of Illinois was created to serve the state, intellectually and economically, and to be a force for good. I am proud of the impact the system and its universities already have, the fuel they provide for economic advancement and the opportunities we create to open doors and change lives,” Killeen said. “In partnership with leaders around the state, we know we can do even more, serving as a catalyst for progress and helping Illinoisans thrive.”
The U of I System is a vital economic engine for Illinois whose impact reaches the entire state.
Spending by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) and their students and alumni pumps $17.5 billion into the state economy. That spending supports more than 170,000 jobs–one of every 46 jobs statewide–and its impact translates to a 6.4 percent annual return on taxpayers’ investment. In addition, students see a 15.4 percent return on their investment through their increased lifetime earnings.
The tour will provide opportunities for the president and other U of I System leaders to meet with elected officials, leaders from businesses and higher education, alumni, news media and others to learn about issues affecting different areas of Illinois, as well as needs the U of I System can help address.
UIUC Chancellor Robert Jones, UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis, and interim UIS Chancellor Karen M. Whitney will also participate in portions of the tour.
Killeen plans to also discuss important system initiatives such as IIN, the network of innovation hubs located at public universities around the state along with the Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago, the UIC Health Sciences campuses in Peoria and Rockford and the Peoria Innovation Hub. IIN was created in partnership with the state of Illinois to drive innovation and generate economic opportunities.
In addition, the president plans to provide updates on SHIELD Illinois, the organization created to extend the use of the fast, accurate saliva-based COVID-19 test created by UIUC.
SHIELD Illinois now provides testing for nearly 600 K-12 schools, 28 community colleges, 19 colleges and universities, 17 community sites, as well as businesses and government entities such as the city of Chicago, the Illinois General Assembly, Archer Daniels Midland Co. in Decatur and electric vehicle-maker Rivian in Normal.
In addition to its innovative research, the U of I System offers best-in-class educational opportunities. Enrollment reached a record 94,750 students this fall. That includes students from 99 Illinois counties, and Illinois residents comprise more than 80 percent of undergraduates enrolled across the system.
After opening the tour in Harrisburg, Killeen and other system leaders will travel to meetings in Marion, Carbondale, Bloomington, Normal and Peoria from Oct. 4-6.
The second leg will run Oct. 21-22 and include stops in Moline and Rockford. The third and final leg will kick off in University Park on Nov. 8 with stops in Itasca, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Deerfield and Highwood before concluding on Nov. 10 in Chicago.