Professor Miller's MGMT 495 students recently enjoyed a rare opportunity to apply their business acumen to their own business education. On the morning of February 18, UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis met with business students to discuss the future of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Students had prepared a profile and analysis of the university, which they presented to Chancellor Amiridis for feedback.
Management students were eager to identify opportunities opened up by UIC’s record enrollment, proposing investments in infrastructure, marketing and student life that would show the immediate effect of increased tuition revenue. Amiridis responded by having students step back to broaden the picture. “We want to talk about strengths and weaknesses when we consider the future. So what are UIC’s strengths?” The students were quick to point to the growing strength of the brand, as evidenced by an uptick in freshmen applications and an increasingly diverse national and international applicant pool.
“I am an immigrant,” Amiridis told the group, “and many of you are immigrants. Many of you are Pell Grant recipients. You see UIC as an opportunity, and your grit is a strength of this university.” Amiridis also spoke to faculty strengths, and to the combined work of university students, faculty and staff in fulfilling the school’s obligation to the public and to its R1 status. “Public means our mission is to improve the lives of others, research means we create new knowledge and new teachers.” Aside from the numbers in any given year, these were UIC's core strengths.
Instead of diving into opportunities for piecemeal improvements, Amiridis presented Chicago itself as a field of opportunity. “Education in the cornfields is an outdated agrarian ideal,” Amiridis joked to the group. Leveraging the Chicago location could mean many things for UIC, from increased public health and public infrastructure research to an improved financial model, which Amiridis also considered behind the times. “State funding and tuition funding are dead ends,” he told students. “Public-private partnerships for providing infrastructure, this is a good place to look for opportunity.”
The end goal, he said, should be fostering an environment in which UIC students, staff and faculty can thrive. “We are a specialized services organization that thrives on its community - its students, faculty and staff.” Look for the strengths in each group, Amiridis said, and you will find the strengths of the university.