The class of 1995 has moved on from these hallowed halls to new endeavors. May 13 and 14 were days of celebration on the Urbana campus, when approximately 6,000 students received degrees from the University of Illinois. The graduation ceremony at the university is aptly named "commencement." I like that name because it focuses attention on the true meaning of graduation - a new beginning. During their years on campus students build the foundation that will help them meet the challenges that lie ahead as they pursue a life of productive contribution.
There is unity to all experience. Thus the knowledge and skills learned and honed at Illinois will underlie future achievement. And the friendships and relationships made and nurtured here, which have fostered growth and maturity, will endure, as will the Illini spirit.
While the graduates move on to employment (the placement rate was very high by graduation day) or graduate school, the college prepared for a new academic year. Entering freshmen and transfer students, the class of 19999, and their parents flooded the campus from mid-May to early July for summer orientation.
There are many changes in the college as the 1995 fall semester begins. The MBA program, which as been under review for two years, is introducing an innovative, integrated curriculum to the entering class. Two task forces are already at work examining the undergraduate curriculum, looking for ways to make the core curriculum responsive to changes in business practices. The study will intensify during the 1995-96 academic year.
This fall also marks the introduction of a Management and Technology program, jointly created, with considerable private funding, by Commerce and Engineering. The new curriculum for this program was pilot-tested this summer. A new master's program in International Finance also came on line in the fall.
In fact, international programs are definitely increasing in the college. The number of students, both graduate and undergraduate, participating in study-abroad programs is growing rapidly. And because the college sponsors a number of exchange programs, we will also be hosting many foreign students during the year. The international programs offered through the Executive Development Center are experiencing unprecedented demand. More visiting delegations from China will participate in our programs than ever before, and Korea has been added to the list of countries served by the center.
During the summer some much needed renovations were completed. Rooms 241 and 243 Commerce West, used primarily by the MBA program, were equipped with new electronic media to broaden the instructional possibilities for our faculty. Room 152 Commerce West was expanded and similarly equipped to accommodate larger Accountancy Project Discovery classes. The first group of Project Discovery students graduated this May and were well received in the marketplace.
This fall there are many new faces among the faculty, too. Fifteen tenure-track and visiting faculty joined us this year. Case Sprenkle has agreed to serve as interim head of economics while the search for a permanent head continues. Jane Leuthold, who did a splendid job as interim head this past year, has asked to return to teaching and research.
We look forward to a stimulating year at the college. You expect your alma mater to be a leader in business education and you will not be disappointed. Why not pay us a visit and see for yourself what we are doing? Despite the continuous change, one thing remains constant, our desire to serve our alumni and current students well. You can be sure of a Warm welcome when you visit us.
Howard Thomas, Dean and James F. Towey Professor of Strategic Management