Going home

Dec 20
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

Every year there are a few quiet weeks of winter break on the University of Illinois campus. Finals are over, the classrooms are empty, and the books are put away – it’s winter break. During this time, students head home for the holidays to enjoy time with family and friends.

As I was driving home for winter break the other day, I couldn’t wait to turn down that black top and see my house decorated in lights. My whole family was inside getting ready for our first holiday family gathering. My mom was standing at the kitchen sink peeling potatoes, my stepdad was setting the table, and my brother’s truck was in the driveway delivering the ribs he’d been smoking all day. As I turned into the driveway, the dog came running out to greet me and I felt like the happiest college student in the whole world. I was home.

Over the past few days I’ve been helping my mom bake, visiting old friends, and catching up on the time I’ve missed helping on the farm. I’m looking forward to a few more family gatherings, the ‘past presidents dinner’ for my FFA chapter, and hopefully enough snow to build a snowman in the next week!

I’m sure my time at home will fly by, but I’m going to make the most of it before I board a plane for my study abroad trip to New Zealand on December 30!

Beginnings and endings

Dec 20
Jason Emmert, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs

Last Friday was a big day, with many new freshmen receiving the great news that they had been admitted into the College of ACES. I received several emails from excited students who cannot wait to begin their college careers, and it reminded me of how privileged I am (and how fun it is) to work in a setting that is so special to so many people.

A few hours later on Friday evening, ACES hosted a reception for December graduates. It made me think about how proud I am of our students, and how quickly time goes. Wasn’t it just a few months ago when these students were excited about starting college?

Such is life on a college campus…we welcome new members into our college family, and we send our graduates out into the world with warm memories and our fondest wishes for success. To all of our ACES friends and family, have a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year!

MANRRS-Illinois Chapter: A year of leadership and service

Dec 19
Jesse Thompson, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is serving as advisor to the student members of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences Chapter (MANRRS-Illinois) and witnessing their leadership activities and commitment to service.

At the 2012 National Conference in Atlanta, Ga., 12 members competed in both undergraduate and graduate research competitions, with two members winning national awards.  In addition, three members assumed national leadership roles. These members include Derrick Rhodes, an Agricultural Education graduate from Chicago and current graduate student and teacher. He was elected the 2012-2013 Region V Graduate Student Vice-President. Chicago native Naomi Harper, a Human Nutrition major, was elected the 2012-2013 National Parliamentarian. Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences graduate student James Totton of Greensboro, N.C., was named the 2012-2013 Region II Graduate Student Vice-President.

In October, MANRRS-Illinois served as the host for 2012 MANRRS Region V Leadership Development Conference. More than 200 members from 14 universities travelled to the Urbana-Champaign campus. With the theme being diversity in the workplace, professionals from companies and organizations such as Dow Agro Sciences, Monsanto, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, John Deere, MSU Regional Food Systems, and USDA Fish and Wildlife, shared their perspectives about building an inclusive workforce that values differences. The event keynote speaker, Ms. Karen Washington, the president of the New York City Coalition for Community Gardening, gave an inspiring address that challenged conference participants as scholars and future leaders to play a national role in helping to encourage healthier and greener communities in our urban cities.

MANRRS-Illinois members contributed to the welfare of the local community. Last spring, the ladies of the chapter participated in the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture Conference.  This event provided an opportunity for more than 400 young women to learn more about the contributions made by women in agriculture and the significant future roles available in agriculture. In the fall, our members joined ACES in promoting Inclusive Illinois Day, a campus-wide diversity event. Members were stationed at the Inclusive Illinois Day south quad tent, were they encouraged fellow ACES students, faculty, and staff to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusiveness by signing the Inclusive Illinois pledge statement.

The chapter also teamed up with other campus organizations to provide service to the campus and local Champaign-Urbana community. Members volunteered with I-help, a campus effort to promote community service around the Champaign and Urbana area; spent a day working alongside with social service organizations such as Reading Across America; and volunteered at a local community garden in the Champaign area. For the Christmas holiday, members have agreed to be bell ringers with the Salvation Army.

We’ve had a busy year in MANRRS-Illinois, and are looking forward to a great 2013.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Dec 14
Kathryn Martensen, Assistant Dean and Director of Advising

December is a notoriously busy month for a variety of reasons. Holidays and traveling are probably what come to mind for most people, along with final exams for students. In addition to the holiday madness, here are just a few of the things going on in my world in the Office of Academic Programs:

  • Freshman admissions-the priority notification date for fall, 2013 applicants was December 14, and post-priority applications are due January 2, 2013. That’s lots of reading and reviewing.
  • Also admissions-related, students who left campus and want to return for spring had a deadline of December 15 for submission of their reentry petitions. Even more reading and reviewing!
  • Fall grades are due December 26 at noon. A couple days after that, we’ll begin what’s called the Academic Standing Review process, which is an opportunity for a holistic evaluation of the entire record of those students who were assigned as academic drop by the Banner system at the conclusion of the term or who were on College Probation. Still more reading and reviewing…
  • Those undergraduates who are completing their degree requirements in the fall, 2012 term are busily sending transcripts and visiting our Admissions and Records Supervisor, Mick Harmon, to make sure they do in fact have everything done. And Mick carefully reads and reviews all of the degree audits then to ensure all is indeed in order.

The list could go on for pages, but you get the idea—it is a busy time for everyone, and the semester has flown by yet again. Good luck on finals to all of our ACES students, congratulations to those of you who will find out that you’re ACES-students-to-be via the freshman priority notification today, and a big congratulations to all the December graduates!

Sweet Home Chicago

Dec 13
Molly Singraber, Senior in ACES

As this semester comes to a close, it is hard to shake the excitement of traveling home. I have dreams of traveling down I-57, taking the exit to my street, and seeing my house draped in twinkling lights for the first time. There is nothing quite like that first step into your house after a long week of finals. The cookies waiting from my mom are not a bad consolation either.

The end of this semester has made me reflect on going home. While it’s a great feeling to head north, I take comfort in feeling a little sad to leave Champaign. As college students, we have the good fortune of being able to build a home-away-from-home. In my opinion, the best way to tell if you have made the right decision about college is the feeling you get when you are traveling home for breaks. The people I have met, experiences I have had, and coursework I have taken through my seven semesters at the U of I have made leaving for three weeks an unappealing thought.

We build bonds to the lives we have grown independently from the security of our hometowns. The bond that I have built to this campus is directly rooted in the people I have met. In the College of ACES, a Chicago girl could find herself swimming in uncharted waters. However, once I transferred into the college, I found that the individuals I met were welcoming, inspiring, and eager to teach. Each day, I learn something that I can apply to my life personally or professionally. I consider myself lucky to have been accepted into a college that is continually producing students who are making positive influences on the future of society.

Home has taken on new meaning for me since my acceptance into the College of ACES. It has made me realize that home can be an emotion we attach to a sequence of places, instead of just one stationary place. For me, Chicago is home; Champaign-Urbana is home; my desk, where I write this very blog post, is home. So whether it’s a cornfield, a skyscraper, or mom’s home-cooking, embrace the chances to find your homes.

Not exactly sugar plums

Dec 10
Claire Benjamin, Senior in ACES

It’s that time of year. While some have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, those of us with finals quickly approaching have chemistry formulas, conclusion paragraphs, pictures of western corn rootworm beetles,  and much more dancing in ours.

It’s the time of year when sleep is more of a novelty than necessity. It’s the time of year when junk food is deemed brain food, and thus perfectly acceptable to any diet plan. It’s the time of year that reminds us just how much we have learned during our time in the College of ACES and how much there is still to discover (or cram as the case may be).

Happy studies!

Wrapping up 2012

Dec 2
Jennifer Shike, Director for Communications and Marketing

We are excited to launch our newly redesigned website this month. Our website affirms our college’s commitment to finding solutions to the world’s most critical challenges. In the College of ACES, we are focused on creating abundant food and energy, a healthy environment, and successful families and communities. We hope you will enjoy the new feature sections of our website that highlight how we are putting our words into action through unsurpassed research, teaching and outreach programs.

Best wishes for a holiday season filled with great memories.

A picture of ACES library in winter.

Celebrating the Morrill Act

Nov 28
Robert Hauser, Dean of the College of ACES
At the end of October, I was invited to be a part of the University of Illinois’ celebration, “The Morrill Act at 150: The Future of Public Higher Education.” Our panel consisting of Mary Kalantzis, Dean of the College of Education, Ruth Watkins, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and myself, discussed how we are redefining our land-grant mission in the 21st Century.
The members of a panel presentation at the "Morrill Act at 150" celebration
Panel members Dean Hauser of the College of ACES, Dean Kalantzis of the College of Education, and Dean Watkins of the College of LAS answer questions during the U of I celebration, "The Morrill Act at 150: The Future of Public Higher Education."