Message from Chancellor Whitney: Goals for the School Year, July 2020

Good afternoon!

I am thrilled to be joining the University of Illinois Springfield as your interim chancellor as we wish Chancellor Susan Koch a prosperous and well-deserved retirement. UIS has been in very capable hands for the past nine years under Susan’s leadership, and it’s my privilege to build on her successes. I’m committed to providing strong and steady leadership during this time of challenge and transition. As we move forward, please know supporting the important work of our talented students and dedicated faculty and staff is paramount.

This is a unique time to be entering into a new leadership role in higher education, and I am ready to embrace today’s challenges and work to set UIS apart as a leading university that excels at delivering on its academic mission.

Transparency and clarity is very important during these times of change. I am committed to being available to everyone—students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, donors, community partners and other friends—as we navigate this next year together.

I have 10 goals for my time as a Prairie Star that I am sharing with you:

  1. COVID-19: Work with university and system leaders, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders to ensure that the university continues to provide high-quality teaching, learning, research and service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Anti-Racism & Social Justice: Work with university and system leaders, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders to build upon UIS’ efforts that advance our values of integrity, civic engagement, diversity, strategic thinking and accountability through our teaching, learning, research and service.
  3. Enrollment: Work with the provost, the Enrollment Management team and the deans to enhance student recruitment efforts, implement the Common Application platform, and increase both undergraduate and graduate student enrollments.
  4. Academic Affairs Reorganization: Work with the provost, deans and faculty to finalize the college and department realignment and reorganization to optimize intellectual synergies and maximize realization of goals in the Strategic Compass.
  5. Labor Relations: Work with the President’s Office, the Provost’s Office, Human Resources, and faculty and staff leaders on various labor union contracts, including negotiation of a successor agreement for the faculty bargaining unit.​
  6. Organizational Improvements: Work with all units of the university and the system chief financial officer to continue identifying efficiencies to strengthen the university’s budget model.
  7. Strategic Compass: Work with administration, faculty, staff and students to continue implementation of the Strategic Compass.
  8. Community Outreach: Work with university leaders to preserve and extend community outreach to the city of Springfield and the surrounding area.
  9. Reaching Stellar Campaign: Work with the president, the Foundation, the Advancement Office and UIS friends to complete the $40 million Reaching Stellar campaign.
  10. Innovation Agenda: Assist the president, the Discovery Partners Institute team, the Illinois Innovation Network leaders, and community leaders to continue building out the innovation agenda in Springfield and across the state.

As I settle into this exciting role, I look forward to meeting with many of you—even if it’s virtually—and learning more about how we can work together to advance these goals, which will further elevate UIS and its status as a top public regional university in the Midwest.

I will host a “Meet the Chancellor” town hall via Zoom from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 7, to answer any questions you may have. A link will be provided via email and Campus Announcements. Please email questions ahead of time to so I can provide a thoughtful answer during the virtual town hall. Our communication team also will provide follow-up FAQs to the university community via appropriate channels.

Again, I’m so happy to be here and can’t wait to dive in.


Karen M. Whitney, PhD
Interim Chancellor
University of Illinois Springfield