“In the end, the American dream is not a sprint…Our families don’t always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor.” —Julian Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, Texas
When this issue of IIT Magazine reaches you, you may have already heard the news that I am resigning as president of Illinois Institute of Technology as of August 1, 2015. I have been emphasizing that I am resigning, not retiring, so that alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends know that I intend to stay engaged in the work of the university for the next year and even after I step down from my formal leadership role. I will be joining the faculty of Armour College of Engineering as a member of the chemical engineering department—and I am looking forward to having more opportunities to interact with the many bright, talented students who come here to study and do research.
But enough about me. This issue is about Illinois Tech’s up-and-comers—some of our most recent graduates who are already making a name for themselves as community activists, entrepreneurs, innovative thinkers, and business leaders. I have said that our graduates stand on the shoulders of giants—alumni and faculty whose products and processes revolutionized how business does business, whose vision re-shaped skylines and legislation, and whose research gave us insight into how we think and how we can build the power grids of tomorrow. When you read what these young alumni have accomplished to date, I think you will agree that they are carrying on our proud legacy of innovation, tech entrepreneurship, and community service.
I was also thinking about what it means to bring your “A Game” when I attended Illinois Tech’s South Side Classic at U.S. Cellular Field this spring. Each year, our Scarlet Hawks get to play baseball in a big-league stadium and to be cheered on by family and friends. Our team won the game this year and one of our players hit a home run over the left-field fence. Clearly, he and the rest of his teammates brought their “A Game” to the Cell that afternoon and left with more than a win—they left with an experience of a lifetime.
It was an afternoon when I was reminded once again that an IIT education needs to prepare our graduates to hit the ground running on their first job, but more importantly, prepare them to adapt to changing times 20 years from now.
If we have done our job—and if they have done theirs—then they leave us knowing how to be part of a team, to step up to the plate, to swing for the fence, to round the bases, and to head for home. They also know not to give up when they strike out, drop the ball, and are sometimes called out on a close call. And they know they need to keep practicing, remain optimistic, take risks, and love what they do. That’s what we do here at Illinois Tech. It’s all about bringing your “A Game,” all of the time.
I am looking forward to my final year as president of this great university and seeing what this next generation will add to our legacy. I have no doubt our graduates will be hitting more home runs in the future because the best days of IIT are still to come.
John L. Anderson