University of Illinois’ new president supports diversity in engineering

Dr. Timothy Killeen, president-elect for the University of Illinois, will deliver a speech at the ChiS&E parent orientation on April 25 in support of the organization's goal to promote STEM to the underrepresented communities in Chicago.

By Joy Chang, Anisa Samarxhiu April 24, 2015

Dr. Timothy Killeen, recently named the University of Illinois’ 20th president, voiced his support for the Chicago Pre-College Science Engineering Program (ChiS&E), which is a K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program. Its focus is on supporting underrepresented communities and addressing the problem of diversity as well as growing the engineering pipeline.

During his inaugural speech delivered in November 2014, Dr. Killeen emphasized the importance of building "human capital," meaning, "Well-educated people connected with opportunities, with skills that include flair, discernment, and critical thinking." He stressed the importance of thinking of higher education as an ecosystem, not simply as a sector.

To achieve this goal, Dr. Killeen stressed that efforts must start at the K-12 level. "It is, in fact, a major part of the overall K through life-long learning public education enterprise in which we must also play a key leadership," said Killeen.

He stated that programs such as Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP), a program he was involved with during his time at the University of Michigan, and DACEP’s sister program, ChiS&E, serve this purpose. DAPCEP, founded by Kenneth Hill in 1976, is now serving over 4,000 youth annually from underrepresented communities in the Michigan area by providing free STEM workshops for kids and parents. Following the model, Hill started ChiS&E in 2008 to serve the Chicago community. With the larger population in Chicago, Hill expects the enrollment to increase to more than 10,000 annually.

"There is a greater need for STEM education as it provides a great opportunity for economic revitalization. We must ensure that kids have the right kind of background education and are excited about engineering," Killeen said during a phone interview with CFE Media. He pointed out that one of the largest challenges Chicago Public Schools are facing is scaling educational programs and serving a larger number of students.

Dr. Killeen is acutely aware of the challenges that public school systems face and understands that as the president of the University of Illinois, he is in a key leadership position to strongly support the drive for greater diversity, especially the underrepresented community in Chicago.

To support the cause, Dr. Killeen will make appearance at the ChiS&E Spring 2015 parent orientation along with Dr. Shirley Malcom, head of education and human resources programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Killeen, 62, has a long history with education and research. For the past 30 years he has taken on roles as a faculty member at the University of Michigan, the assistant director for geosciences at the National Science Foundation, and the president of the Research Foundation of the State University of New York before being named the president of the University of Illinois.

Dr. Killeen will start his new position full-time on May 18, 2015. 

– Joy Chang and Anisa Sarmarxhiu are digital project managers at CFE Media. 

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