“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” –Soren Kierkegaard
At IIT, a lot has changed over the years. In the early 1990s, about one in four students at IIT was a woman. Today, that ratio has increased to more than one in three. A woman is now president of the Student Government Association, and there is a Starbucks on the corner of 35th and State. Figuratively and literally, Main Campus is much greener. Students now walk to class through parks filled with trees and flowers, and a wind turbine has been installed on IIT’s soccer field.
A lot has also stayed the same, including our emphasis on hard work and innovation, our commitment to sustainability, and our focus on practice and research. IIT students are much like their counterparts in decades past—smart, confident, determined, and hard-working. Our location in a world-class city continues to give us a competitive advantage in recruiting faculty, staff, and students—and we remain proud to be part of the historic South Side neighborhood in which we are located.
We are also working hard to prepare our students for a future that none of us can predict with any certainty, except for the fact that change is ubiquitous and continuous. Functional expertise is not enough for today’s graduates. They need to be globally and technologically savvy, and able to manage change. I like to say that we are educating students who will be leaders today, tomorrow, and 25 years from now. That is the IIT difference—and I have no doubt that in the decades to come our students and alumni will be leading initiatives that will indeed change our world for the better.
Talk to our students, faculty, and staff, however, and you will also find that the values and mission of our university endure. IIT will always be an institution that prides itself on academic excellence and world-class research. It will also be an institution that offers talented young men and women access to an educational experience unlike any other.
To understand IIT, and to appreciate how far we have come, it is sometimes necessary to stop and look back at what has changed. Our focus, however, is on the future—and living forward. This university is going places, and I hope you will agree that the most exciting times are still ahead.
Welcome to today’s IIT.
John L. Anderson