Welcome to the UIS 2014 Spring Semester! Though it is a little chilly outside this week, spring is on the way and we're looking forward to an interesting and exciting semester here on campus. I had the privilege of starting the semester yesterday by participating in Springfield's 39th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. Illinois was the first state to declare Martin Luther King Jr. Day an official state holiday and it was wonderful, on this important day, to be among hundreds of members of the Springfield community, many of whom are UIS alumni and supporters, and be reminded of the ideals that guided the life of this great American hero.
It was my pleasure this past week to welcome more than 100 new international students from around the world to our academic community and I hope you will join me in offering an especially warm welcome to them, as well as to other students who are new arrivals at UIS this semester. With more than 1,100 course sections being launched this week, both on campus and online, UIS faculty are offering exceptional learning opportunities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I encourage you to invest your efforts deeply in this abundance of opportunities to collaborate, learn and prepare for your future. I hope you'll also be mindful, at this start of a new semester, that we're all privileged to be part of this academic community and that creating a positive and supportive culture on campus for everyone is everyone's responsibility. A smile, a "Hello" and a helping hand can go a long way toward making someone feel a part of our community.
In addition to courses, the Spring, 2014 semester at UIS offers countless other opportunities for leadership, engagement and just plain enjoyment on campus and in the community. Our Center for Volunteer and Civic Engagement is a great place to start if you'd like to get get involved and get some valuable experience that will complement your academic work. UIS is committed to being a "steward of place" in our community - making it a better place for everyone to work, learn and grow - and UIS students, faculty and staff donate thousands of hours of volunteer service every year.
Sangamon Auditorium is going to be a real hot spot on campus this semester and I hope you will attend at least one performing arts event this semester – especially if you have not yet been in our beautiful Auditorium. It all starts this week with the Broadway play "Hello Dolly" tomorrow night and "Junie B. Jones" on Friday evening. I'm also really looking forward to our Theatre program's performance of "How I Learned to Drive" in April.
I encourage you to support and enjoy our men's and women's basketball teams during the next several weeks of GLVC Conference play. Both the women and men are next at home in the TRAC this Thursday and Saturday and our student/athletes are providing many exciting moments on the court this season. We're also looking forward to Black History Month activities in February, Women's History Month in March, and of course, Springfest in April, a highlight of the Spring semester at UIS.
The next Chancellor-student gathering is being planned for February, co-sponsored by SGA and other student organizations. What will be the featured food? You'll have to wait for the announcement to find out; but I suspect it will start with a "C'.
Dr. King said: "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of education." Best wishes for a semester filled with intensive thinking!