Over the last year, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all become used to confronting daily change. These changes have come in all varieties: anticipated change, unexpected change, change we’ve hoped for, change we’ve feared, and some of which we’re still processing.
President John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” As a trustee of our alma mater and the chair of our Alumni Association board, I have a goal to help keep our entire alumni community firmly aware at this moment, recognizing that we get to make the change we want to see. It is the renewed thinking and conscious, intentional actions that we take today that will allow the best future to emerge for all of us.
Among the many changes at Illinois Tech this year is the retirement of Illinois Tech’s ninth president, Alan W. Cramb. As we enter this transitional period between President Cramb and his successor, I want to share my gratitude to President Cramb for his leadership throughout his tenure. He has demonstrated his commitment to our entire community, traveling the world to connect with alumni, improving Illinois Tech’s financial standing, and stewarding students, faculty, and staff through an unprecedented shift to remote learning and working thoughtfully, safely, and gracefully.
I am also appreciative of the groundwork laid by President Cramb and others over the past several years, which our next president will have the opportunity to build upon. The last two years in particular have yielded the establishment of the College of Computing and record-breaking fundraising. Both have set the stage for what, I believe, will be the beginnings of new and exciting opportunities for Illinois Tech, our communities, and the industries who will benefit from our students and faculty excellence.
Our 10th president will also have the opportunity to build upon our university’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in several critical, concrete ways. One of the first hires made by our next president will be the newly created position of vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion. This will ensure a robust partnership between the president’s offices and our ongoing DEI work across our university and our community, and with industry leaders. Additionally, the work of our African American Alumni Association (4A) is taking a prominent role in helping to shape our DEI conversations under the leadership of 4A Chair Lester McCarroll Jr. (EE ’83) and 4A Chair Emeritus Michael Hill (CS ’82). These conversations among other cultural dialogues are stimulating actions for desired change yielding more inclusiveness and belonging.
President Cramb will also pass the baton to our next president to steward what we’re calling The Chicago Difference. This initiative includes Illinois Tech’s newly formed integrated skills, scholarship, and support for students from underrepresented backgrounds, including women and people of color, with a special focus on young people from Chicago’s South Side and West Side. By cultivating and retaining home (grown local tech talent, Illinois Tech will activate its commitment to diversity, while simultaneously realizing our vision of propelling the city of Chicago to realize its future as a global technology leader.
As Illinois Tech alumni, we all share in Illinois Tech’s journey to this point, including more than a century of making change. No matter what other changes we encounter this year, I am optimistic about our path forward, and I’m glad to share the journey with my fellow Scarlet Hawks.
Sherrie Littlejohn (M.S. CS ’82)
Trustee, Board of Trustees
Chair, Alumni Association Board of Directors