Letter from the President

A Farewell from President Lew Collens

Many colleagues and friends have shared their memories in this issue of IIT Magazine as well as in many celebratory events during these concluding days of my presidency.

As I look back, it is clear to me that it takes a whole village to raise and nurture a university. The successes that we have had during the past two decades have been the result of the creativity, risk taking, and hard work of many people. There are 31 of them who have contributed their thoughts to this magazine.

Any discussion of my time as president must begin with Bob Pritzker and Bob Galvin. These larger-than-life leaders have inspired the university community with their generosity, their leadership as Board of Trustees chairs, and their personal commitment of countless hours to the life of the university.

Each of the wonderful new academic programs described in this magazine took leadership from their founding directors, risk taking by their funders, and the creative energy of many faculty and staff. It is this combination that has led to such early success for Mathematics and Science Teacher Education, Biomedical Engineering, the Leadership Academy, and the Interprofessional Projects program. These programs have enhanced the academic opportunities for our students. But there have been many more. The faculty has continually improved the curriculum and created new degrees at the cutting edge of education.

The development of the Camras program transformed the academic quality of our undergraduate student body. The faculty were thrilled when the fi rst class arrived with students such as Lisa Marszalek and Nancianna Schaaper who did so much during their days as students to enrich the quality of student life. The students have been a continuing source of inspiration to me. They have made it all worthwhile.

The development of Main Campus has been the most visible change during my time as president. It all began when Dirk Lohan created a Master Plan for redevelopment that helped us all imagine a radically transformed campus. The resulting McCormick Tribune Campus Center and State Street Village are the most visible of the physical changes. Having world-class architects Rem Koolhaas and Helmut Jahn design these buildings underscored our commitment to the tradition of architectural excellence. The renovation of S. R. Crown Hall and its designation as a National Historic Landmark, as well as the creation of the Mies van der Rohe Society, sent a signal to the worldwide architectural community of our continuing commitment to protecting our Miesian heritage.

As important, the establishment of University Technology Park At IIT and completion of the fi rst building has set the course for an exciting new era in technology entrepreneurship.

Finally, none of the progress we have made would have been possible without signifi cant additional fi nancial resources. The IIT Challenge Campaign that raised $270 million from alumni and friends provided the launch. The creation of Alion Science and Technology Corporation, through the brilliant leadership of Bahman Atefi , provided the additional funds for us to reach a stable fi nancial orbit.

The university slogan is “Transforming Lives. Inventing the Future.” Those are powerful words that capture the mission of this university. It is this mission that gives meaning to what we do. It is why it is so satisfying to be a member of a university community, and it is why I am so grateful to all of you and the trustees for having given me the chance to serve this university.

As I return to the faculty, I look forward to being part of this great university community for many years. I know we will achieve great things under the leadership of President-Elect John Anderson and Chairman John Rowe.

Thank you for all you have done.

Lew Collens