University of Illinois System

Know Your U Program

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 employees 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.


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

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. Examples 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.  Activities already officially designated as Approved Events are separate from this program. Each university and the system offices will maintain a list of suggested activities that would qualify for this program.


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

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.

Benefits Continuation

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

Additional Resources

Contact your university or system human resources office if you have additional questions about this program. See your university human resources office's website for guidelines and procedures.