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Know Your U


Our faculty and staff are the foundation of the University of Illinois System’s standing as a global leader in education and discovery. Their daily hard work and dedication are the building blocks of our efforts to serve communities, the state of Illinois, and the nation.  Yet it is challenging for many staff to fully appreciate just what their talents have helped build – three universities whose academic excellence have attracted a record 86,000 students; a collective research powerhouse that ranks among the world’s most innovative university systems; a system that pumps $17.5 billion into the state’s economy every year, supporting one in every 46 jobs.

So we have developed a unique new program to give staff an opportunity for a first-hand look at the big picture. Know Your U is perhaps the first program of its kind in the country, offering eligible university employee’s time away during their normal workday to experience the remarkable programs and facilities that their hard work supports. It is a chance to learn more about academic units that have helped set enrollment records for six straight years; about research that promises to build on the system’s long, rich legacy of groundbreaking innovation; and about the iconic facilities that define our three, best-in-class universities.

Know Your U is an investment in our most valuable resource, giving staff employees a broader perspective into the scope and impact of our universities, and how their roles contribute to the greater good. We also hope they have some fun along the way, and walk away with an even greater sense of pride in a university system that is truly altogether extraordinary.

Eligibility Heading link

Permanent full- or part-time civil service and academic professional (including visiting) staff who have been employed for six months or more are eligible to participate. For employees in positions represented by a union, this program will be adopted through the collective bargaining process.

Engagement Activities Heading link

engagement activities

Engagement activities should be those that foster an understanding of and connection to the University of Illinois System and present an opportunity to learn about some facet of the university, preferably outside the employee’s normal scope of responsibilities. Activities already officially designated as Approved Events are separate from this program.

Activities could include attending a scholarly talk on campus, visiting a lab to learn about cutting-edge research, arranging a tour of a new facility on campus, and/or attending a professor’s investiture.

Examples of such activities/events are:

UIC Calendar of Events

Approval Heading link

Participating in the Know Your U program should be arranged at a time that is workable for both the employee and the department. When requesting to participate, the employee must provide his/her supervisor with as much advanced notification as possible. Supervisors may deny the request based on operational needs.

Length of Time Heading link


Up to eight (8) hours may be granted each academic year (August 16 – August 15).  Activities typically will be in one- to two-hour increments and can be done individually or in groups. Once an employee uses eight (8) hours of time in an academic year, the employee is not eligible again under the Know Your U program until the next academic year.

Employees will be granted this time during their normal work day and should NOT use accumulated vacation leave or floating holidays when participating in an approved event under this program. This program cannot be exchanged for a day off from work; it may be used only to participate in activities related to your university. Additionally, department/unit events (e.g., office retreats; holiday events; team building workshops) should not count towards the employee’s eight (8) hours of activity time.  Unused hours will not carry over into the next academic year and have no monetary value if not used.

Reporting Activity Time Heading link

Time spent participating in an approved activity is considered worktime during the normal scheduled work day and is not subject to overtime and should not extend an employee’s workday or workweek. Civil Service non-exempt (overtime eligible) employees should report the time as regular straight time in the appropriate time reporting increments. There is no reporting requirement for overtime exempt academic and civil service employees as there is no leave usage.

Eligible employees should record your Know You U activities through the AbilityLMS learning management system. Employees can access AbilityLMS by going to

Know Your U Activity Recording Job Aide.

Benefits Continuation Heading link

Because activity time is considered work time, employees continue to receive the same State and University benefits. All State-paid contributions continue.

If you have additional questions about this program, please contact Joanna Wolek,, 312-355.5524.

Frequently Asked Questions Heading link