CHICAGO, Sept. 17 -- The University of Illinois at Chicago issued the following news release:
Entrepreneur and corporate CEO Rick Hill, who grew up on the South Side, believes Chicago is ideally positioned to be a major player in biotechnology over the next decade. Chicago, he says, has the infrastructure of research universities to compete with San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston.
"Chicago can fulfill aspirations to be thought of in the biotechnology sector in the same vein as the Silicon Valley is with the semiconductor sector," said Hill, a 1974 UIC bioengineering graduate. "I am a huge fan of UIC and the University of Illinois as a whole. There is tremendous potential for UIC to partner with private-sector resources, the state and the city to create a biotechnology powerhouse. It will be critical for the economic revitalization of Chicago."
Hill and his wife, Loan, have pledged $6.5 million to the University of Illinois at Chicago's department of bioengineering, now housed jointly in the UIC College of Engineering and the UIC College of Medicine. The gift is the largest in the history of the College of Engineering and brings the couple's total giving to UIC to nearly $9 million. Their hope, Hill said, is that other civic-minded individuals, corporations and elected officials "will see the potential we see" in Chicago and in UIC -- to revitalize the region's economy and to solve the medical problems that beset an aging population, such as glaucoma and cancer.
"Rick Hill's contribution to the University of Illinois at Chicago will have a remarkable impact on the young minds and future of our state," said Gov. Pat Quinn. "U of I is a world-renowned institution and this gift will help to keep Illinois competitive when it comes to the biotech sector of our economy. This 21st-century approach will boost Illinois' position as a key hub in this growing arena. I salute Rick and his wife Loan for giving so much back to their community and for their commitment to the students of Illinois."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said "biotechnology is an area of excitement and growth for Chicago's economy," and cited the Hills' gift for adding to the city's strength in the sector.
"The research universities in the city, in conjunction with the private sector, are facilitating advancements that will have a lasting effect on many lives and contribute to economic opportunity around the city," Emanuel said. "UIC, with its Colleges of Engineering and Medicine, has a unique combination that can help propel this economic engine for the future, and I am excited at the possibilities and potential of this gift."
"UIC is emerging as one of the most important urban research institutions in the United States," said Christopher Kennedy, chair of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. "The Hill gift will enhance UIC's ability to engage in basic research, which sloughs off applied research. That helps start companies, that employ people, who pay taxes, which fund schools capable of educating a whole new generation of leaders."