FY24 Funded Investment for Growth Programs

National Leadership in Data Science Education Supporting a Significant Visible Social Impact
Grainger College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS)

DISCOVERY is an open-access data science resource first created at the University of Illinois as the basis for STAT/CS/IS 107: Data Science Discovery and several other courses. In less than two years, the prototype has served many stakeholders. For over 1,000 students each year in the cross-disciplinary introductory data science course, accessing DISCOVERY is among one of their first experiences at Illinois. As a public service, DISCOVERY now receives thousands of page views daily and appears in over 10,000 Google search results every day. Moving from a protype to a permanent platform, DISCOVERY will establish Illinois as the national leader in undergraduate-level data science education. With the platform expansion, the cross-disciplinary team aims to generate 1,000,000 monthly page views to University of Illinois content focused on data science and create over 3,000 articles, tutorials, projects, videos and other resources across all topics in data science for anyone in the world to utilize. Internally, the platform will function as a repository for all students from all majors as a resource for review or additional learning support and allow undergraduates in non-technical majors who complete each lesson to build micro-credentials on their resumes. The team will create a campuswide program with the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) to help faculty with teaching their courses with a visible social impact”; deploy tools that are accessible for all instructors; and help to ensure maximum student enrollment and retention for undergraduate, graduate and online programs.

LAS Student Success Center
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS)

The LAS Student Success Center is a one-stop resource accessible to all types of learners and diverse student populations that supports and encourages success, by creating a sense of belonging. The center will offer co-located services to provide essential resources for students including the LAS Student Academic Affairs (SAA), a tutoring center, a writers and a speakers workshop, an LAS computer-based testing facility (CBTF), and an LAS Academy for Educational Excellence. For some LAS students, the close connection between academic advising resources and academic support services will open pathways to degree completion. The new center will include the creation of an embedded advising model, placing advisors in centers, programs, departments and schools, and the expansion of the Access and Achievement Program (AAP) to serve all URM students in LAS and second-year transfer students without majors. For all Illinois students enrolled in core general education courses delivered by LAS departments, there will be the convenience of coordinating tutorial support in multiple subjects (e.g., mathematics, chemistry and writing). The Academy for Educational Excellence will, among other activities, build on existing campus resources to support excellence in the design and delivery of LAS courses that enroll all Illinois students. The academy will also be a forum for developing flexible and creative uses of assessment, to be realized in the proposed testing facility, as well as a central place for faculty and other instructors, academic advisors and academic professional staff to come together to explore student needs and develop the workforce of tomorrow.

Virtual Care Hub in the College of Veterinary Medicine
College of Veterinary Medicine

The Virtual Care Hub, located in the historic round barns on the Urbana-Champaign campus, will address the challenges of developing, adapting and implementing digital technologies for the delivery of virtual veterinary care. The hub will be dedicated to solving the global problem of inadequate access to medical care while creating transformative life-long learning experiences. Creation of the hub will include restoring and renovating the West Round Barn, fulfilling its original mission of sharing knowledge about technological innovations for animals. The college will also develop stackable certificate programs in virtual care for animal owners, caretakers, veterinarians and entrepreneurs who want to enter the animal health technology space. The plan will also include leveraging the expertise of alumni who work in digital animal health. With the addition of a new endowed chair, the college and university will be positioned as the recognized leader in the adoption of virtual care for animals, and as a proving ground for virtual care in humans to address health care inequities locally, nationally, and globally. The Virtual Care Hub will educate practicing veterinarians, veterinary students, entrepreneurs and engineers in best practices for the remote delivery of veterinary care and create an educational template for human health. The two stackable graduate certificates will build on the success of the Executive Veterinary Program. The first of the new certificates will be for veterinarians who want to adopt virtual care in their practices. The second certificate will be directed at engineers and startup companies who want to increase their understanding of the biology behind and the practice of veterinary medicine. The certificates will be offered in an online and hybrid delivery format. Students will do most of their coursework online but will come to campus for three-day intensive sessions to work collaboratively on solving a specific virtual care application problem and interact with veterinary students. The renovated and remodeled round barn space will also allow further expansion and innovation in the Master of Veterinary Science program.

Healthcare Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship – Graduate Certificate and Related Opportunities
Carle Illinois College of Medicine, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation (OVCRI), Gies College of Business, Grainger College of Engineering

This program, an extension of ongoing collaborations between Illinois and Mayo Clinic will develop, implement, and sustain a stackable graduate certificate in Healthcare Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship. This certificate—and related educational opportunities—meets the educational needs of many different learner types including (but not limited to) healthcare providers, administrators and managers, innovators and entrepreneurs, and healthcare business experts. This program initiative presents an opportunity for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to meet the growing market need for healthcare innovation, design and entrepreneurship skills, leveraging the university’s tradition of technological innovation and data-driven research and capabilities. The Health Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Certificate will enhance diversity and inclusion, and expand the university’s efforts toward democratizing education and addressing critical societal issues in healthcare; bridge certificate content to existing programs, including Gies College of Business’ iMBA Program, Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s M.D. program, and Grainger College of Engineering’s master’s in computer science program; and build the foundations for an online master’s degree in health innovation, design and entrepreneurship. This certificate, which will include three courses, will provide a framework for the identification, exploration and exploitation of healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities using technology and data-driven decision-making as unifying themes. Specifically, it will explore and debate the future of healthcare, provide alternative frameworks to identify opportunities for innovation and design, explore alternatives, and evaluate alternate business models for creating successful entrepreneurial ventures. Technology and data are the cornerstones of this course and the certificate will be of interest to various stakeholders including students who are interested in exploring opportunities in the healthcare sector as a primary or secondary field of focus, and professionals directly or indirectly involved or interested in healthcare innovation, such as physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and other nursing professionals, physician assistants, psychologists, hospital administrators, government regulators, scientists, payors and other diverse groups.

Expanding Online Graduate Education in the College of Applied Health Sciences
College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS)

In order to expand and restructure online graduate degree programs in the College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS), two new online degrees will be created in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health (KCH)—the Master of Public Health (MPH) and the Master of Health Administration (MHA). Both degrees are currently offered only as campus-based programs. In the Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism, a current online program, the Master of Science in Recreation, Sport and Tourism, will be restructured into three separate specialized degrees. The new and revised degree programs will both offer stackable online certificates focused on in-demand skills for professionals. The development and restructuring of the online graduate degree programs will be supported centrally by the AHS Office of Online Learning and the AHS Office of Marketing and Communications. In addition to the online MPH and MHA degrees, AHS will offer opportunities for non-degree students and other professionals to take advantage of the public health expertise available at the University of Illinois. Core and concentration-specific courses of the MPH and MHA degrees will be grouped to form stackable certificates. The MPH program will offer six certificates: epidemiology; biostatistics; public health; one health; physical activity and health; health promotion. The MHA. will offer three certificates: health finance; healthcare quality; and health informatics. Additionally, there is an opportunity to partner with the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine to jointly serve veterinary medicine students seeking the MPH degree online. Veterinary medicine is integrally linked to public health through zoonotic disease, food safety and security, occupational risk and environmental health. This synergy will enable veterinary graduates to potentially finish both degrees in four years, driving up demand and accelerating the impact of veterinary public health with all the accompanying societal benefits.

Proposal for the Creation of a New Online Master’s Degree Concentration in Trauma-Informed Education
College of Education

Research has shown the impact of trauma on a student’s cognitive, behavioral, emotional and relational skills can result in poor academic performance, low attendance rates, increased suspensions and expulsions, and difficulty forming relationships. The College of Education’s Departments of Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) and Special Education (SPED) will create a new cross-disciplinary concentration in trauma-informed education (TIE). The new concentration in TIE will be offered as part of the existing online master’s degree program (Ed.M.) by C&I in collaboration with the Office of Online Programs. The new proposed degree concentration in TIE will allow for collaborations and synergies across three College of Education departments, C&I, SPED, and educational psychology. TIE is an innovative approach to teaching that will explicitly address current mental health crises. Furthermore, the concentration in TIE has the potential to transform the university’s response to the changing societal needs for educators. The new concentration expands and enhances a three-course online graduate certificate of specialization in TIE, which is currently offered, to degree and non-degree seeking students, through SPED. Currently, C&I’s existing online master’s degree offers three concentrations: perspectives and practices, digital learning, and bilingual/bi-cultural education. This new concentration in TIE will add a fourth. With the high incidence of trauma impacting both students and teachers in PreK-20 classrooms, this new proposed degree concentration in TIE meets an urgent and growing need locally, nationally and internationally.

Playful by Design: Expanding the Transformative Potentials of Games@Illinois
School of Information Sciences, College of Education, College of Fine and Applied Arts (FAA), Grainger College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), College of Media

The Games Studies and Design (GSD) program at the University of Illinois is well-positioned to make significant contributions to a growing body of research on the impacts of games, gaming and the interactive and immersive technologies often developed for games. Through the “Playful by Design” model, Games@Illinois will build on its successful minor in GSD with the development of a master’s degree in game design and undergraduate certificates for non-traditional students, and by becoming a global hub for collaborative pedagogy and research. The Master’s of Science in Game Design (M.S./GD) will provide professional training for students interested in working in professional game studios, game-adjacent industries or in other work places where game-related skills are in demand. This innovative interdisciplinary program will be organized around university-studio partnerships and students will gain industry experience as they acquire the skills that they need. The degree program will emphasize ethics and inclusivity and include five concentrations: game design, game programming, game art, game writing or game production. The program will be offered online, with an emphasis on collaboration across locations, time zones and countries. To accommodate non-traditional needs, the program will eventually be fully modular, offering stacking certificates that may accumulate into the M.S. degree. Other efforts, as part of the proposal, include establishing a global network for supporting doctoral-level research, including building relationships with institutions engaged in training students for the game industry, and supporting the pursuit of academic research. The development of the Illinois Playful by Design Research and Development Studio (Stu/dio) will support such research. The Stu/dio will provide consulting and other support services to campus clients, employing students who are trained in GSD courses and in the studio itself. As a pedagogical tool, it will allow undergraduates and graduates access to the kinds of real-world design experiences that the master’s students will be receiving through internships with external partnering studios. Finally, Games@Illinois seeks to create an organizational home for Esports at Illinois, both as an opportunity for revenue generation but for research opportunities as well.

Program Innovation for an Evolving Profession
School of Labor and Employment Relations

As the human resources field has rapidly evolved over the past few years, the School of Labor and Employment Relations (LER) will expand the scale and scope of its online and in-person graduate and professional education programs to meet critical needs in the field. LER will bolster existing programs with critical analytics competencies to reach new learners. These include mid-career to senior-level professionals and managers—with or without an HR background—who are preparing for specialized HR/managerial roles and need a short course of advanced specialized education, as well as learners interested in obtaining a quantitatively oriented HR specialization in HR analytics as an enhancement to their master’s degree, among others. LER will expand course and certificate offerings, as well as engage in additional student outreach and marketing activities in two specific ways. First, the school will offer an advanced certificate series, rolling out three new graduate certificates that can be completed online. These include: Advanced Certificate in People Analytics and Organizational Analysis, Advanced Certificate in Organizational Diversity/Equity/Inclusion, and Advanced Certificate in Aging, Disability and Employment. These advanced certificates will leverage LER’s successful online graduate education platform, the strong reputation of its master’s programs, and the established network of LER alumni who are in HR decision-making positions in organizations. The school will also add an HR analytics concentration to the in-person master’s in human resources and industrial relations (MHRIR) program. This concentration will appeal to domestic and international students with quantitative backgrounds who are seeking a specialized credential to enhance their prospects on the HR job market, and as a result, should increase interest and enrollment in the in-person MHRIR program.

Illinois Center for Family & Community-Engaged STEAM
Grainger College of Engineering, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation (OVCRI), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), Carle Illinois College of Medicine, College of Education, Discovery Partners Institute

The Illinois Center for Family- and Community-Engaged Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math, and Medicine (FACES) will provide centralized infrastructure, coordination and cross-campus synergy for offering pre-college STEAMM outreach to families, teachers and youth-serving community organizations. FACES will strengthen and expand its partnership network that supports STEAMM confidence-building, engagement, and learning among youth, with the ultimate aim of increasing the diversity of students enrolling and persisting in STEAMM majors and careers. Informed by an actively engaged board of advisors with strong representation from community-engaged leaders, parents and organizations (including DREAAM, UNCC, The Well Experience, Cena y Ciencias and ChiS&E), FACES will provide a welcoming, inclusive and easily accessible centralized resource for locating and accessing the university’s rich and diverse STEAMM content and activities. FACES will provide campus researchers with opportunities for grant writing, age-appropriate curriculum development and implementation of pilot studies, resulting in stronger broader impacts and broadening participation activities for NSF/NIH proposals (e.g., large centers, alliances, and NSF CAREER). FACES will also be a longitudinal testbed for studying informal and cross-generational STEAMM teaching and learning. Lastly, FACES will enable experiential learning for undergraduates to strengthen their communication, teamwork, leadership and civic mindedness via STEAMM education, public engagement and community service efforts; and for pre-service and practicing teachers to grow their instructional practices. Specific objectives of the program include building long-term relationships with Black and Latinx families and community organizations through Saturday, evening and summer STEAMM programming; establishing a STEAMM Public Engagement Network that increases efficiency, amplifies impact and aligns to recommendations of the Chancellor’s Coordinating Council for Public Engagement; serving  as a hub for teacher professional development; providing an infrastructure for many areas of study, but particularly in the development of STEAMM knowledge and beliefs such as self-efficacy, identity and sense of belonging; and partnering with other institutions to plan for national impact.

Center for Advanced Climate Solutions (CACS), Enhancing Capacity and Accelerating Impacts in Climate Research, Education, and Engagement
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation (OVCRI), School of Labor and Employment Relations, Grainger College of Engineering, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS)

The Center for Advanced Climate Solutions (CACS) will foster innovative solutions to address emerging challenges driven by climate change by accelerating the development of practical climate solutions by building on existing research, increasing competitiveness for external federal and private funding, and educating students for the quickly growing cross-sector demand for climate consulting. CACS leadership will work with representatives from each partner academic unit and research institute (CACS ambassadors) to facilitate opportunities for cross-campus research targeted to developing solutions to climate challenges in climate hazard mitigation, building climate resilience in urban and peri-urban living, climate change and human health from One Health perspective, and decarbonizing the economy. To meet its goals, CACS will develop a visiting faculty/scientist fellows program in partner research institutes for college faculty and researchers. Additionally, the center, in coordination with its academic units, will develop a series of 12-credit certificate programs in climate consulting, which will offer highly valuable micro-credentials in this rapidly growing field. The certificate programs will consist of packages of existing courses taught in CACS-affiliated academic units or new courses focused on discipline-specific aspects of climate consulting. The center will leverage its highly collaborative environment between academic units and research institutes, and extensive relationships with external private industry and government partners to create student internship and fellowship opportunities focused on climate solutions in various disciplines and areas of expertise. The internship programs will create a student pipeline between academic units, research institutes and external partners. The center will also establish mentorship across departments to support the achievement of our transdisciplinary center. This will be achieved by developing a virtual resource center (VRC) containing learning modules designed to help students develop fundamental competencies for high performance in professional and academic environments necessary for advancement of climate solutions. The VRC will include open-access and open-source features encouraging not only the dissemination and use of resources, but also the customization of learning modules for the specific needs of different participants.

SE@UIUC: A Green Education for Sustainable Futures and Environmental Justice
College of Education

Sustainability Education (SE) is an educational approach that addresses the ways that environmental changes intersect with justice, poverty and inequality, with a focus on educating diverse audiences across the lifespan. SE is increasingly recognized as a critical tool in the fight against climate change. SE@UIUC seeks to advance sustainable futures for Illinois and the global community. The SE@UIUC initiative in the College of Education will develop an online campus graduate certificate in sustainability education for degree- and nondegree seeking students housed in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership. As part of this certificate, students will enroll in a field study with traditional and non-traditional education providers, building partnerships between campus, tribal organizations and nonprofit environment organizations based in the Global South. Alongside the online program, this initiative will create a new undergraduate SE general education course and develop innovative learning environments for on-campus students. These learning environments include outdoor classroom space and a living wall installation housed in the College of Education. These spaces provide opportunities to utilize the environment as a primary learning resource in formal instruction, as well as provide informal learning opportunities for the Urbana-Champaign campus as well as the wider community. New SE programming will also build collaborative relationships with historically marginalized communities. Community engagement opportunities will be offered to students as practicum placements. In collaboration with the College of Education’s Office of Public Engagement, the SE program will partner with local and national organizations that center racial justice and environmental sustainability in their work. Locally, the SE program leads will integrate a new curriculum into the Champaign-based Ujima Freedom School to design and implement a curriculum-focused on environmental justice and advocacy in K-12 schools.