As my term as chair of your Illinois Tech Alumni Association comes to an end, our university looks very different than when I began. We have a new president, and will soon have a new provost. We have new colleges, refreshed student residence halls, new scholarships, and new programs to help engage students from local, national, and global communities.
For all that change, the most remarkable thing to me is how much has stayed the same. Illinois Tech is making waves and breaking fundraising records simply by doubling down on our commitment to our founding purpose: to harness the collective power of difference to drive innovation for all. This purpose has been our institution’s North Star for more than a century. In fact, we’ve been engaged in this work for so long that it can be easy to forget just how revolutionary our purpose really is.
I have immense respect for our community, and I’m not the only one. Celebrating our differences is smart business. It’s a time-tested strategy for yielding the best results from the greatest number of individuals. It is a proven way to lift all of us, together, with sustainable impact.
As the chair of your Alumni Association, it has been my privilege to see how this purpose plays out in the lives of our alumni every single day. In my conversations and work with our community, it is evident that pursuing this purpose has changed countless lives: from first-generation students who are able to lift their families out of poverty because of their education to those who have leveraged their skills to innovate the various ways that we communicate, live, and work.
Indeed, the world needs more engineers, designers, architects, lawyers, business leaders, and thought leaders. However, what the world needs more than anything is you—your unique voice. Your skill set is only part of your power. The truth is that we change the world when we engage our skills with our whole selves. We create the most value for ourselves and each other when our skills are augmented by our backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. Our ability to bring our authentic, respectful, and thoughtful selves to any situation sets the table for greatness to emerge.
I know that your new board chair, Robert Hoel (BE ’70), knows this, and I know that our community will continue to thrive under his leadership. He is the definition of Illinois Tech spirit. Though I will no longer be your alumni chair, I’m not going far. I will continue to serve Illinois Tech’s alumni community by believing in and promoting its mission. Thank you for your support, as I am grateful to all of you for reminding me every day why I am so proud to call myself a Scarlet Hawk.
Sherrie B. Littlejohn (M.S. CS ’82)