Opportunities and Challenges of the Role
In transitioning to UIC, the AVC may encounter a number of opportunities and challenges. The successful leader will meet the following challenges, among others.
Embrace urban, public higher education
UIC is situated in one of the world’s largest cities; therefore, the successful candidate must embrace urban life and understand the context of an urban university. Students in this setting have a different experience than those who attend college in rural, suburban, or more traditional settings. The urban educator must be prepared to create a set of college wellness programs and services that will be effective and well-received by students who live, work, and study in a city. Common elements of urban life for college students include
- taking public transportation to campus from dozens of neighborhoods across the city;
- working one or more jobs on top of their academic course load;
- contributing to the needs of their families and others in their communities;
- managing housing and economic insecurity; and
- enjoying a vibrant and busy environment with opportunities to meet people and participate in entertainment, culture, and sporting events.
Advance the wellness model in a diverse university environment
The new AVC must thrive in an environment with a very diverse student body with students from a variety of racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds, as well as gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities. The leader will bring passion and vision to the work of wellness in a widely diverse community. An illustration of the diversity at UIC can be seen in the fall 2021 undergraduate enrollment statistics, in which students identified as the following.
- 21% Asian
- 7% Black/African American
- 35% Hispanic
- 7% International
- 24% White
- 6% Other
In addition, more than a third of current undergraduates speak a language other than English at home, with over 60 languages reported. UIC is a Minority Serving Institution (MSI), a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI).
The new AVC will find a welcoming community on campus, with the opportunity to engage in any of seven centers for cultural understanding and social change.
- African-American Cultural Center
- Arab American Cultural Center
- Asian American Resource and Cultural Center
- Disability Cultural Center
- Gender and Sexuality Center
- Rafael Cintrón Ortiz Latino Cultural Center
- Women’s Leadership and Resource Center
Take a strategic, systematic approach to providing services and programs
UIC is a large, complex organization that can be difficult for students to navigate. With creativity and a problem-solving orientation, the new leader will develop systems that honor and strengthen current partnerships while creating new solutions for difficult situations that arise as the community cares for students with health, mental health, and well-being challenges. By gaining a shared understanding of the issues, considering the perspectives of others, and seeing the big picture, the successful leader will implement new ways of doing things that provide clarity to opaque processes that impede student success.
Engage actively in the well-being of college students
Student leaders at UIC have high expectations for this new leader. They hope to see someone actively meeting with students to learn about their needs and then to create structures and strategies that benefit students. They are envisioning an AVC who will be skillful in creating systems to care for a diverse student population and be a responsive, student-centered professional. With a vibrant presence on campus, students will see that the AVC enjoys working with college students and demonstrates an eagerness to solve the concerns of students at UIC.
Thrive not only as a leader, but as a member of the community
While the new leader will be active, visible, and engaged with the UIC community to promote wellness on campus, they will not be alone in the work. The AVC will be a member of a leadership team within the division of student affairs and will collaborate and consult with others to raise awareness of the wellness needs of students on campus. Other leaders on campus are enthusiastic about partnering with the AVC to generate timely solutions to student needs. The successful leader will promote an integrated approach to meeting the community’s expectations to plan for and provide wellness services and programs at UIC.