“Sic Itur Ad Astra”
(“Thus One Journeys to the Stars”)
—Virgil, from the Aeneid, Book IX
I want to tell you that dreams really do come true. When I first entered into academic administration at Carnegie Mellon University in the 1980s, I told my wife, Anna, that I aspired to one day become a university president. Even with that goal in mind, I could never have imagined that I would succeed one of my great mentors, John L. Anderson, whom I met at Carnegie Mellon, when he and I would serve as president and provost, respectively, at Illinois Institute of Technology. When President Anderson retired as Illinois Tech’s eighth president in 2015, the members of the university’s Board of Trustees placed their confidence in me by naming me as the ninth president of this great institution.
These past nearly six years in which I’ve been honored to serve as your president, working together with our trustees and the entire Illinois Tech community, have indeed fulfilled my dream on so many levels. In my first letter as president, I stated that my vision for Illinois Tech includes that our university becomes a place where there is a strong focus on education and the development of new knowledge; that values creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial activities; and whose culture is inclusive, its people diverse, and its accomplishments more than the sum of its parts. We have done much to further growth in each of these areas.
While reflecting on everything that I’ve been through, I have to once again recognize the recent remarkable efforts of our staff and faculty during the 2019 polar vortex and one of the greatest operational challenges in the history of our university—the COVID-19 pandemic. Their continual commitment and devotion to our students and community members is commendable and characterizes Illinois Tech’s hallmark traits of creativity, persistence, and care. I extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation for their resilience and dedication.
While I will remain at Illinois Tech as a faculty member, I will always recall special moments from my time as president: working with chairmen Bud Wendorf and Mike Galvin; addressing students and their families at Commencement; traveling to visit our alumni in the United States and around the world; celebrating with members of our community who were dressed in Scarlet Hawk red as we broke ground for the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship; connecting with alumni at Illinois Tech’s first-ever virtual global gathering event; and recognizing the donors who helped us renovate the Robert A. Pritzker Science Center, the John T. Rettaliata Engineering Center, Cunningham Hall, and George J. Kacek Hall.
As I look at the faces of our students and faculty, I will also remember the important research that resulted from the Nayar Prize I, and all of those individuals who worked to open the College of Computing and Lewis College of Science and Letters. My successor will now have the opportunity to continue the work begun on the Power the Difference: Our Campaign for Illinois Tech fundraising effort, which will support student success and advance our standing as the leading tech-focused university in Chicago.
One of my most important goals as incoming president was to ensure that Illinois Tech valued all of its people—from the faculty to the staff to the students. Above all else, I hope that I have accomplished that. Thank you for your support, your partnership, and your belief in our university and its students. Never doubt that you each have the ability to make your own dreams a reality.
Alan W. Cramb