Chancellor Susan J. Koch
October 4, 2012
I’m delighted to make some opening remarks for this 2012 University of Illinois Springfield Faculty Scholarship Recognition Luncheon.
This is the event where we present the University of Illinois’s highest honor for scholarship, the University Scholar Award and I want to be among the many today who congratulate Dr. Lan Dong, Assistant Professor of English on receiving this prestigious honor.
Dr. Dong, congratulations! I’m looking forward to learning more about your work today.
This event is an opportunity for us to celebrate Dr. Dong’s achievement in scholarship; but of course its also an opportunity for us to celebrate the importance of scholarship in our academic community and, as Chancellor of your university, I appreciate this pause in our busy semester to do that.
A year ago I mentioned at this event that the image that came to mind for me as I thought about our individual and collective faculty careers and the role of scholarship in our careers was the image of braids.
Some of you may remember that I described a favorite painting titled “The Hair is Being Braided,” by Norwegian artist Christian Krohg. My older daughter had sent this image, that depicted a mother braiding her daughter’s long blond hair, to me years ago when she was studying at the University of Oslo because it reminded her of the countless times I had French braided her hair when she was a little girl.
Dr. Dong, I don’t know whether you are very good at braiding hair; but what is very clear to all of us is that you are very, very good at weaving together those three essential elements of any faculty career – outstanding teaching based on a genuine interest in students, a productive scholarly agenda based on your training and intellectual passion, and a commitment to being contributor to your academic community.
In fact, you are so good at balancing these elements, that you are receiving the University Scholar Award in the same year that you are receiving the UIS Pearson Award for Outstanding Teaching. That is pretty amazing!
As someone who has been a member of the academic community for nearly 30 years, what I appreciate most about the outstanding faculty members that I’ve known over the years, and we all know them, is that there is no bright line separating or dividing teaching, scholarship and service; the true teacher-scholars interweave these endeavors into one beautiful braid … and that is what success looks like in our world of academia.
It’s an ever-changing landscape with new discoveries, new ways of learning and new technologies to support our scholarship and our teaching. It is work that we do very, very well at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois, a campus that is the top-ranked regional public university in the state and the second-ranked regional public university in the Midwest.
Our mission is to provide an intellectually rich, collaborative, and intimate learning environment for our students and for ourselves – whether that environment is here on the campus or in the virtual spaces online, where our national and international reputation, including the important scholarship that our faculty conduct related to online learning places us alongside the most innovative institutions in the world.
The role of the faculty, as teachers and scholars, is central to the mission of this university. It is all of you who do the teaching and research that makes us who we are.
You, and often your students with you, are engaged in the scholarship of discovery, the scholarship of application, the scholarship of teaching and the scholarship of integration.
All of these forms of scholarship, including creative activity like art, music and theatre, contribute to the advancement of knowledge as well as to providing that intellectually rich environment that is so important in a university and so important to our students.
Scholarship is important. As your Chancellor, I what you to know that I appreciate and respect your scholarly contributions.