It is the dawn of a new era in higher education, one that is being driven by a technological transformation that is changing what we do and how we do it. The forthcoming, technology-driven Fourth Industrial Revolution means there is a need to educate the next generation of innovative tech leaders who will shepherd us forward.
Illinois Institute of Technology was born out of a similar challenge more than 130 years ago, when minister Frank Wakeley Gunsaulus delivered his “Million Dollar Sermon.” Gunsaulus called for the support to build a school where students of all backgrounds could prepare for meaningful roles in a changing industrial society. The support of Philip Danforth Armour Sr. ensured that vision could become a reality, serving as the foundation upon which our university remains focused: harnessing the power of collective difference to advance technology and innovation for all.
Earlier this year, during Homecoming, I was privileged to deliver the “Billion Dollar Sermon” with Michael P. Galvin (LAW ’78), chair of the Board of Trustees. This provided the space for us to highlight the opportunity that Illinois Tech has to create a new type of university for the twenty-first century. It also served as the official relaunch of Power the Difference: Our Campaign for Illinois Tech, a $1 billion fundraising campaign that is focused on helping the university support and enhance the student experience; to invest in faculty, facilities, and educational programs; to develop and deliver new, world-leading research programs; and to ensure that Illinois Tech serves as the premier technology-focused university in Chicago.
As we sit on the precipice of another industrial shift, Illinois Tech must again rise to meet the needs of the time. We are uniquely positioned to meet this challenge. Our highly relevant, tech-driven curriculum and one-of-a-kind Elevate program, which guarantees hands-on experience outside of the classroom and provides academic and career mentoring, ensures that Illinois Tech students stand out after graduation. I’m happy to share that this is resonating with students: we welcomed the largest class of first-year students in recent history to start the fall 2022 semester.
Our alumni are vital to our work. Take Alzira Maldonado Protsishin (M.A.S. ARCH ’14). Born in Ukraine and raised in Colombia, Alzira moved to Chicago to pursue her architecture studies at Illinois Tech. Now a senior architect at EXP, she was a project designer on multiple Chicago Transit Authority elevated “L” train stations, including the 95th Street Red Line station. Her work earned her the American Institute of Architects Chicago Dubin Family Young Architect Award in 2021.
You’ll read more in this issue about the positive impact that Alzira has made on her community, as well as communities in Chicago and the Illinois Tech community, and the important work that so many of our alumni are doing to benefit others.
That is the impact of an Illinois Tech education, and I look forward to continuing our work to ensure that future generations will make the same impact.