In the midst of a global crisis that has many organizations struggling to stay afloat, Elmhurst University is embracing innovation and preparing for a bold future.
In late 2020, the University reintroduced the Innovation Committee, an interdisciplinary group of faculty, students, staff and administrators committed to nurturing creativity and bringing new ideas to life.
“Some people might think we should focus on survival during a pandemic, not innovation,” said Soni Simpson, co-chair of the Innovation Committee and associate professor of business. “But Elmhurst is doing more than surviving—we’re thriving. And if you don’t innovate, you stagnate.”
One of the committee’s first steps was to launch Imagining Elmhurst 22.0, an initiative that encourages students, faculty, staff and alumni to contribute their ideas for building an even better Elmhurst University.
“We want you to envision what Elmhurst University could be like one year from now—or five years, or ten years—and then we want to help you bring that vision to life,” the committee wrote to the campus community. “We know you have ideas, Elmhurst. We want to hear them!”
The ideas have been pouring in—so many that the committee has had to schedule additional meetings to evaluate them all. From diversity initiatives to technology upgrades to new academic programs, the proposals address every aspect of the student experience.
The Board of Trustees has allocated funding to implement some of the top proposals from Imagining Elmhurst 22.0.
“We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” Simpson said. “Every day the newspapers report that higher education institutions are laying people off and eliminating majors. At Elmhurst, we’re investing in ourselves—and in innovation.”
In addition to nurturing and championing new ideas, the Innovation Committee is spearheading Bluejay Brilliance, an initiative designed to celebrate innovation across campus. By spotlighting members of the Elmhurst community who are thinking big, the committee hopes to foster even more creativity and excellence.
“As we celebrate our Sesquicentennial this year, we’re celebrating 150 years of forward thinking,” Simpson said. “With this initiative, we’re leveraging our strengths and our great history to take that next step into the future.”
The Innovation Committee is accepting Bluejay Brilliance nominations and Elmhurst 22.0 proposals throughout the summer, and will host a celebration in the fall. To nominate someone or submit your ideas, sign in to the myElmhurst Portal and find Innovation Idea Submission in the Quick Links list.