Letter from the President

Last month the first real snow of the winter started to fall…and fall, and fall on the Chicago area. It was December 1, and schools were closing, trains were running behind schedule, and the “City that Works” kicked into high gear to clear expressways and shovel us out from under the blanket. And while students on a typical college campus might hope for a “snow day” on such an occasion, the students of IIT had another focus in mind—IPRO Day.

Nearly 400 students set their alarms even earlier to ensure they were ready to battle the snow and present their projects—from hybrid electric school bus designs to an analysis of public perceptions of nanotechnology—before a group of eager faculty, project sponsors, fellow students, alumni, and friends. So while the weather was not on our side, the quality and the scope of the IPRO presentations, as well as the enthusiasm of our students, could not be dampened.

The innovative spirit of the IPRO program, now offi cially housed in Stuart School of Business, is being bolstered by a new joint-degree program between the Stuart School and the Institute of Design. This issue’s lead story, “Innovation By Design,” describes ID’s focus on a “user-centered” approach to design, a direction used by companies to develop the hugely successful iPods and RAZR cell phones. As ID Director Patrick Whitney notes, most companies know how to make something, but not necessarily what to make. This new joint program will be an important part of Dean Harvey Kahalas’s focus on strategic competitiveness.

And university business is yet another major topic in this magazine issue with “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” an article on the transition of Board of Trustees leadership from outgoing Chairman Robert Pritzker to new Chairman John Rowe. You also will learn more about world-class wind tunnels and the lifetime commitment to teaching of Hassan Nagib, the father of the IPRO program, as well as get a taste of the compelling civic-mindedness of our students in “A Series of Miracles,” a story about a group of IIT architecture students—led by Professor Frank Flury—who used a design/build approach to rebuild a new community center in Gulfport, Miss., an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

I guess the old adage, “neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night…” certainly holds true for the commitment of our students, faculty, and staff, who are as steadfast as ever in their pursuit of education—even while in the midst of another Chicago winter.

Lew Collens