The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday took steps to advance important capital projects at two U of I System universities.
Trustees approved a $117.8 million budget for the new Computer Design Research and Learning Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
The 125,000-square-foot facility will be the new home of the university’s Department of Computer Science and will be designed to meet LEED Gold certification standards for environmental sustainability.
The new center will include a 1,200-square-foot robotics lab, 16,000 square feet of classroom space, and the interdisciplinary Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL). The EVL has developed and commercialized high-performance visualization and virtual reality systems such as the CAVE2 hybrid virtual reality environment employed by NASA in its ENDURANCE under-ice robotic exploration in the Antarctic.
Trustees also approved plans for development and construction of a new $194 million Outpatient Surgery Center and Specialty Clinics Facility at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. The project has long been a top priority for the U of I Hospital System and Health Sciences System (UI Health).
The new 200,000-square-foot facility will be on the west side of the UIC campus and provide state-of-the-art facilities to accommodate a 5 percent annual growth rate in the demand for outpatient surgeries. The six-story building will be connected to the hospital by a multistory bridge.
Financing for the project will be provided through a public-private partnership with Provident, a tax-exempt organization established to assist colleges and universities with facilities and other related projects. Construction is expected to start in August 2020 and be completed in 2022.
UI Health provides care for hundreds of thousands of people annually in the Chicago area through its 462-bed hospital, Outpatient Care Center and network of 12 Mile Square Health Centers. In addition, one in three physicians in Illinois was trained by UI Health through its seven Health Sciences colleges.
Trustees also approved designs for the new Susan and Clint Atkins Baseball Training Center and the new softball training center in Urbana-Champaign, as well as a new name for latter.
The softball center will be known as the Rex and Alice A. Martin Softball Training Center, in recognition of the Martins’ $3 million donation for its design and construction.
Trustees in 2019 approved a budget of $14.5 million for the two projects.
The baseball team advanced to the NCAA regionals in 2019 and has won two Big Ten titles under coach Dan Hartleb. In its fourth season under coach Tyra Perry, the softball team advanced to the NCAA regionals in 2019, as well.
Student Health Insurance
Also on Thursday, the board set student health insurance premiums for the 2020-21 academic year for universities in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago.
Premiums will increase 33 percent for students at Urbana-Champaign, based on increased claims over the last year. Undergraduate premiums will increase by $179 to $723 per semester, while rates for graduate students will increase by $231 to $927 per semester.
At UIC, premiums will increase 3.5 percent for all students, rising by $24 to $697 per semester.
Rates have not yet been set for UIS.
Students can opt out of coverage if they prove they have comparable coverage from other sources.
Also on Thursday, trustees extended the contract for University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood by three years, through April 2026.
Underwood’s annual compensation will also increase, from the current $3 million to $3.4 million for the coming year. Annual increases will follow, with Underwood’s compensation reaching $4 million in 2025-26.
Underwood is in his third season at Urbana-Champaign. The team finished fourth in the Big Ten this season, its best regular-season finish since 2011, and is projected to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. Underwood was hired in 2017 from Oklahoma State University.
Trustees also approved the appointment of Anthony “TJ” Augustine as vice chancellor for innovation at UIC, beginning March 16, 2020.
Augustine has served as interim vice chancellor of innovation at UIC since November 2018.
The position was established to develop and implement a strategy for the university to integrate its innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives, including providing oversight and guidance for UIC Extended Campus online programs. In this role, Augustine also manages university involvement in initiatives such as the U of I System’s Discovery Partners Institute and in similar opportunities with external partners.
Augustine previously served as associate vice president for economic development and innovation for the U of I System. He is a 2004 graduate of Urbana-Champaign and also has a PhD from Stanford University.
In addition, trustees approved the appointment of Robin Fretwell Wilson as director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. Wilson has served in that role in a designate capacity since Feb. 16.
Wilson is a professor and associate dean at the College of Law in Urbana, a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Translational Sciences at Carle Illinois College of Medicine in Urbana, and a professor in the Department of Pathology at the Urbana regional campus of the UIC College of Medicine.
Wilson earned her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia.
Trustees also voted Thursday to rename the Department of Real Estate in Chicago’s College of Business Administration in recognition of a $3 million donation by businessman Stuart Handler.
The Stuart Handler Department of Real Estate will use Handler’s donation to support faculty, student scholarships, course design and program expenses related to the study of real estate markets and policies.
Handler is the founder and CEO of TLC Management, a leasing and management firm whose properties are home to more than 10,000 people. Handler owns more than 5,000 apartments and in 2010 was inducted into the UIC Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, recognized for buying and improving neglected properties. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Northwestern University.