President's Report Archives - Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

President's Report


The following provides an update on my leadership of the Academy. Leadership Priorities and Profile To provide Trustees with a report of activities and efforts of note, I organize the Report of the President, where appropriate, around the Priorities for 2017-2018:

  • Guide the integration of UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals
  • Advance equity and excellence
  • Host the International Student Science Fair in June 2018
  • Meet the 12 targets proposed on the IMSA Operational Excellence Dashboard organized under the seven Priority Outcomes

and the Leadership Profile Components used by the Trustees to evaluate the President’s performance:

  1. Institutional Planning (and Executing)
  2. Financial/Business Model
  3. Innovations in Teaching and Learning and in STEM Talent Development
  4. Institutional Research and Scholarship on Program Effectiveness and RoI
  5. Thought Leadership in STEM Education Policy
  6. Stakeholders’ Positive Action(s) on Behalf of IMSA.

For additional information and updates on IMSA, please see my Personal Reflections that provide general observations shared with IMSA stakeholders throughout the year.

Integrating UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In the spirit of being a learning laboratory and of integrating the UN17 SDGs into the curriculum, the History/SS Team is dedicating the last three weeks of class to move students into a problem-centered effort to explore deeply a specific, student-selected UN 17 SDG. Students will develop a portfolio or report on a specific UN goal. According to Dr. Lee Eysturlid,

This approach will allow students to bring together practices and “habits of mind” they have acquired through their five semesters of history classes and with content and skills inherent in their science experiences. All senior electives (Topics in Current Affairs, History of Biology, and History of Technology, and in 2019 US Government and Constitution) will “end” as a regular class starting May 7th . The final submission of student work will take place on May 25th (or earlier if designated by the instructor). The entire project, including the proposal and assessment of work, will be worth 15% of the final grade – this will be true for all classes. At the core of all of the student work will be the tying together of their scientific knowledge with best History department practices.

Advance Equity and Excellence

The 2018 Impact Report highlighting our contributions to educational innovation, equity and excellence in Illinois and beyond has been completed and distributed. I am including a copy of the report in the Appendix in BoardDocs.

Host the International Student Science Fair in June 2018

The Opening Ceremony of ISSF is in six short weeks! We are expecting over 30 schools from approximately 20 countries to attend. Save the Date invitations were sent out to some of the regional STEM high schools. We are hoping some of those schools will also attend.

The program is almost finalized. Speakers have been identified for the Clean and Affordable Energy panel as well as the Clean Water and Sanitation panel. All of the Chicago excursions and field trips have been confirmed. We are now waiting for schools to select activities that they wish to participate in. See for additional information.

On March 23, 2018 Mary Collins and I met with LeRoy Allala, Executive Vice President of World Business Chicago and Executive Director of Chicago Sister Cities International, to introduce him to ISSF and solicit his help in notifying the Chicago international community about the event. His organization will assist us in extending invitations to the local consulates.

IMSA Operational Excellence Dashboard

The May 2018 update of the IMSA Operational Excellence Dashboard is attached and will be highlighted during my Report of the President. (See Appendix A) Cabinet members and I will also be discussing this in more detail, including Dashboard definitions during our afternoon retreat.

Institutional Planning (and Executing)

We are moving forward with recruiting and filling vacancies. I have joined the Principal’s Office to interview faculty candidates for mathematics, science, and Spanish. Human Resources continues to make progress in recruiting and screening applicants for the Dean position. Interviews for the Dean candidates are scheduled for the week of May 14.

The week of April 23rd was dedicated to activities in Springfield. On Tuesday, April 24, 2018 Tami Armstrong, Katie Berger, Bud Bergie, Mary Collins, Kimberly Corrao, Traci Ellis, Bob Hernandez and students, Thomas Harris and Nyxel Camarena, and I left the IMSA parking lot at 5:00 a.m. to travel to Springfield for a 9:00 a.m. budget hearing before the Senate Appropriations II Committee. Two other agencies, Chicago State University and Southern Illinois University, were also scheduled to testify during this hearing. We were fortunate to be called first. After some introductory remarks, I ceded the microphone to Nyxel and then Thomas. They spoke about their experience at IMSA. I concluded my remarks and stated that we were ready to respond to questions. No questions were asked. After four minutes, we were exiting Room 212 of the Capitol Building. We took Thomas and Nyxel to the Senate and House Galleries for pictures and they boarded the van to return to Aurora.

On Thursday, April 26, 2018, staff members and students, Sona Fokum and Julian Martinez, boarded the bus at 4:00 a.m. to leave for Springfield for an 8:00 a.m. budget hearing before the House Higher Education Committee. Again, we were called first, presented our testimony and Julian and Sona spoke. Representatives asked several questions and we left the room about 20 minutes later. We took Julian and Sona to the Senate and House Galleries for pictures and boarded the van to return to Aurora.

It’s clear to me, now in my fourth year of testifying before these committees, that legislators on both sides of the aisle recognize and appreciate IMSA’s contributions to the state. They love hearing from our students and are supportive of our budget requests.

In partnership with Dr. Amber Stitziel Pareja, Executive Director, Office of Institutional Research, we are launching a “Year of Inquiry at IMSA.” The objectives of this initiative are to engage the IMSA community, staff, faculty, and students, in an in-depth examination of a current challenge that significantly influences IMSA’s work and mission; and to identify both the scope and an array of potential solutions on local, state, nation, and international scales. See Appendix in BoardDocs for a one-page description of the purpose and plan for implementation of a Year of Inquiry.

Financial/Business Model

Senate Bill 2939 was scheduled for a second reading with the Senate Education Committee on the afternoon of April 24. When our bill was called, Senator Linda Holmes identified three amendments to the bill (1) no state appropriations are used to fund the costs of (non-Illinois) students attending the Academy; (2) no more than 25% of the Academy’s student body may be composed of students who are not Illinois residents; and (3) IMSA is to report to the Illinois Board of Higher Education information demonstrating that students who are not Illinois residents have paid and will pay sufficient tuition, fees, and room and board costs to ensure that no state appropriations were used, or will be used to fund the costs of those students attending the Academy. After Senator Holmes’ introductory remarks, I answered several questions. The bill passed out of committee unanimously.

On April 25, SB 2939 was considered on the Senate floor and passed with a vote of 53-0!

At the request of the Student Council, a Town Hall meeting was held on April 30 for students to learn more about the pending IMSA bill and to provide them an opportunity to ask questions. Joining me were Bud Bergie, Katie Berger and Traci Ellis.

During the first week in May, I worked closely with our lobbyist to respond to questions from House staff members related to SB 2939. The bill has come out of House Rules and is scheduled to be heard in the Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committee on May 17. Representative Linda Chapa LaVia is Co-Chair of this Committee.

Innovations in Teaching and Learning and in STEM Talent Development

April 11, marked the Fifth Annual Student Leadership Exchange (SLX) and the Hollister Lecture. Dr. Page was the Hollister presenter. See Ms. Berger’s report (Appendix D) for additional information on SLX.

I joined IMSA staff for Admissions Selection week (April 16) and observed the selection of students for the class of 2021. Applicants included 280 males and 265 females, 110 grade 8 students and 435 grade 9 students. Details regarding the Class of 2021 will be provided to the Board in September 2018.

On March 5, 2018, 550 IMSA students took the Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences that asks students to give their perspectives on a variety of areas related to their school lives. These areas include: students’ perspective on homework, extracurricular activities, free time, sleep, etc. Some of the key findings include: “challenging,” “stressful,” and “fun” were the most common words students used to describe IMSA; 61% of students feel they have too much homework; and students report getting an average of six hours of sleep per night. See Appendix in BoardDocs for an Executive Summary Report.

Institutional Research and Scholarship on Program Effectiveness and RoI

As stated above, the 2018 Impact Report highlighting our contributions to educational innovation, equity and excellence in Illinois and beyond has been completed. We distributed the report to legislators during our appropriations hearing on April 24 and 26, 2018. See link to the report here: I will distribute printed copies to you at the Board of Trustees meeting.

On April 26, students and staff were engaged in our 30th IMSAloquium. Presentations included studies on topics including Alzheimer ’s disease, The Soviet Great Terror, genetic “switches” for cancer, epidemiology, supersymmetry, market dynamics, water filtration, machine learning, diabetic pain, black holes, neural networks, and many more. These subjects reflect our students’ diverse interests and the broad research community that supports them, including research mentors in the Student Inquiry and Research program, Dr. Sanza Kazadi and his SIR team. For more information and abstracts, see IMSAloquium 2018 at

Thought Leadership in STEM Education Policy

I met with Northwestern University President, Dr. Morton Shapiro on April 3, 2018 to explore how to strengthen partnerships between IMSA and Northwestern and how to increase the number of IMSA applicants being admitted to Northwestern. This year we had 45 applicants and only two were admitted. On May 8, the following individuals from Northwestern University toured IMSA and engaged in conversation with Cabinet: David Figlio, Dean, School of Education and Social Policy, Nichole Pinkard, Associate Professor, Learning Sciences, Amy Pratt, Associate Director, Office of STEM Education Partnerships and Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Director, Center for Talent Development.

Dr. Janice K. Jackson, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, is scheduled to tour IMSA on May 11. I hope to discuss with Dr. Jackson how IMSA and CPS can work more closely together.

I was nominated by the Governor’s office to represent Illinois at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s State-Federal STEM Summit. Other Illinois representatives are Ms. Julie Mueller, Campus President of Universal Technical Institute and Sean McCarthy, Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. (DCEO). Events will take place at The White House Complex on the evening of June 25, followed by daylong collaborative work at the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum on June 26. Director McCarthy is also scheduled to visit IMSA on May 14.

I have been asked to be part of the Chicago Technology Leadership Initiative Talent and Education Working Group. The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club and leaders across the Chicago technology ecosystem launched an initiative to make Chicago a top-tier, global technology leader. The Working Groups will refine objectives, clarify metrics, and put forth a set of plans/initiatives that will be used moving forward to accomplish the mission.

Stakeholders’ Positive Action(s) on Behalf of IMSA

The responses to the Fusion Legacy Bicentennial solicitation were very impressive. We had over 100 applicants apply for the 25 grants from communities throughout the state. PFS did an excellent job in targeting communities that IMSA has not served before. We hope to find funds to extend the program to more than the 25 schools that the Bicentennial Legacy project will cover.

On April 9, Leo Bellanto from Fermi Lab visited IMSA to discuss the possibility of developing a modern physics text book in cooperation with IMSA faculty. At the meeting were Dr. Bob Hernandez, Dr. Storm Robinson, Dr. Peter Dong, Dr. Eric Hawker and myself.

On April 14, I met with Jacob Plummer, President of the IMSA Fund Board of Directors, to inform him of my rationale for not moving forward with an announcement of the Executive Director of Development position. In addition, I shared with him my analysis of the Fund’s unrestricted revenues, the Fund’s operating budget, and the cost IMSA incurs to support IMSA Fund operations. I have also been meeting with a fundraising consultant in an effort to solicit expert advice about how best to support IMSA’s Fund for the Advancement of Education. I continue to be in regular communication with Mr. Plummer and expect to work more closely with the entire IMSA Fund Board of Directors.

Leadership Update from Cabinet Members

Updates from Interim Principal Dr. Robert “Bob” Hernandez, COO/CIO Mr. Lawrence “Bud” Bergie, and Acting Executive Director Ms. Katie Berger are included as Appendix B, C, and D.