The Gies Mission and Vision

Our vision is bold: to lead the world in innovation and life-changing access to business education. It’s a vision that guides every decision we make at Gies College of Business, and students are at the very heart of those decisions.

We execute on that vision with a clear commitment to our mission. We prepare and empower innovative, purposeful and ethical future business leaders through knowledge creation and immersive learning experiences.

Gies Strategic Priorities

During the fall, Gies leadership worked together to strategize about priorities for the College’s future. With the help of Magelli Office of Experiential Learning Director Andrew Allen, this group conducted internal and external research to understand how demographics, public attitudes toward education, costs, and COVID have impacted the landscape of higher education. These key trends in higher education can be found at the bottom of this page.

The Gies College leadership team also looked at the opportunities that align with our strengths, meet our overall vision and mission, and advance our Business on Purpose promise.  Intentionality is our guidepost, and our strategic priorities are a reflection of that purposeful decision making.  

Gies' five strategic priorities: access, excellence, inclusion, engagement, and innovation

During a series of recent listening sessions – the Gies community had the opportunity to learn more about Access, Inclusion, Innovation and Excellence.  Soon we will be giving you more information on the Engagement strategy as our new Chief Advancement Officer learns more.

You can review each presentation. We encourage you to provide suggestions, ideas, and insights that will help us refine these ideas and build out action plans and timelines. Send your thoughts to feedback@business.illinois.edu.

  • Inclusion: Create a diverse, equitable and inclusive community where scholars, learners, teacher and leaders thrive
  • Innovation: Establish Gies as a leader in innovation
  • Excellence: Foster excellence in research and teaching
  • Access:  Expand access to our transformative, world-class business education
  • Engagement: Establish, meaningful, lifelong engagement for students and alumni
Key Trends in Higher Education
Purpose, role, value of higher education
  • Pre-pandemic, institutions of higher education faced criticism from the public. Harvard President Larry Bacow famously said in 2018, “For the first time in my lifetime, people are actually questioning the value of sending a child to college.”
  • With the shift to online during COVID, students further question the value of their tuition dollars, and learners increasingly think of education in terms of ROI.
  • Universities bring unique value through research and coached learning. This value is hard for other education providers (private, public, or corporate) to replicate and gives universities an advantage if they can excel in these areas.
Changing demographics, and changing needs from residential learners and families
  • Gen Z is more career-focused than previous generations, preferring hands-on, immersive learning.
  • As public funding for institutions has decreased and tuition has increased (8x faster than wages from 1989-2016), low- and middle-income families have been the most impacted, making it harder to send kids to college.
  • Still, demand for high quality education – in the US and globally – far exceeds supply, and learners will flock to larger and high-quality schools that offer flexible on-ramps, affordable learning, and high-quality teaching and career outcomes.
  • We need to re-think everything from affordability to student support to career paths to support of the student’s family and home situation
Rise in online education
  • Even pre-pandemic, there were huge increases in online learners.
  • 84% of online-only students live in the same state as their institution.
  • More residential students are taking one or more classes online.
Competition from non-traditional sources
  • In the age of online learning and the need for digital skills, universities are facing competition from non-universities, such as Google (“Grow with Google”) and Amazon (Seller University).
  • Companies are either creating their own upskilling programs or partnering with schools or corporations to educate their employees.
  • Traditional universities will need to better integrate with companies and also need to establish strategic partnerships to stay ahead of the competition.
Employer demands changing
  • Students aren’t prepared. They enter college with less work experience than in previous generations, and only 30-40% of employers say that students graduate with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.
  • Competency equivalent to a degree: more companies hiring without a degree.
  • Increased need for digital skills in areas of machine learning, AI, AR/VR, analytics.
  • Research shows that real-world work experiences during college lead to better career and life outcomes.