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Vaughn Vandegrift
Vaughn Vandegrift
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SIUE and Regional Economic Development

by SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift


Leadership Council Annual Meeting
November 18, 2004

Good evening, and thank you for inviting me to speak to you about Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and the importance of our University in the economic development of the metropolitan area. In the short time that I have been Chancellor, I have been impressed by the kindness, generosity, openness, and friendship I have encountered in this area of Illinois. I've moved here from Georgia, where they are proud of their "Southern" hospitality. But I've found this region of Illinois has "Southern" hospitality of its own, or should I say "Southwestern" hospitality. This evening I want to speak to you about the characteristics of SIUE today, where we are headed, some examples of how we share our intellectual capital through our people and our programs, and how we can all help SIUE, Southwestern Illinois, and the entire metro region.

SIUE's clearly articulated values and its well-formed sense of community were produced through the hard work and dedication of talented Edwardsville faculty, staff, and administrators. They have been supported by citizens and business people who are aware of what role the University can play in the region. All of us who are privileged to be current members of the University community owe much to the dedicated labors of those who came before us.

SIUE exists in a dynamic, changing present that builds on the past and that prepares us for exciting future changes. In only three years, 2007, SIUE will celebrate its 50th anniversary. We will soon begin to prepare for that celebration, and we look forward to having you join in our planning.

There is much that is exciting about the present State of the University and its future prospects. For example, everyone who visits us knows about our beautiful campus, but not everyone knows that ours is one of the largest in the country. We have over 2,600 acres; that's larger than Forest Park in St. Louis and Central Park in New York combined.

Enrollment has risen consistently over the last several years, and our fall 2004 enrollment is 13,493 with a total operating budget exceeding $180 million. Despite severe budget cutbacks, SIUE has grown by 1,300 students since fall 2000. This growth has all been in full-time students, almost all of whom are undergraduates. Last year, our enrollment increased 5%, the largest increase among all public universities in Illinois.

What's more, although many members of the general community and many alumni do not realize it, with 3,000 beds on campus SIUE is much more of a residential campus than it was just a few years ago. And there are now about 2,100 off-campus residential students, which means that about half of the undergraduate student body is residential. These students affect the area in many ways, influencing the construction of rental housing and the economy of the region. And, many stay after graduation and become part of the area's workforce.

There have been extremely positive academic changes as well. For example, our average incoming freshman ACT this fall is 22.3, up from 21.9 last year. The national average is 20.9, and in Illinois it is 20.3. Further, the latest U.S.News & World Report data on academic reputation scores rank SIUE for the first time in the top 72 Midwestern master's institutions, only 26 of which are public. Even better, in terms of peer rankings - i.e. what presidents, chancellors, provosts, and directors of admissions at those 72 schools said about all the others - only five public institutions have better academic scores than we do, and not one of those five is a metropolitan university. These data reflect many aspects of the University, one of which is that we have an outstanding faculty. They have distinguished themselves for nationally and internationally recognized scholarship. They have received Fulbright funding as well as grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, state-sponsored grants, and local funding. And our music faculty have led our Wind Symphony at Carnegie Hall and have taught in the Lincoln Center.

Therefore, it is no accident that our excellent undergraduate programs stand up nationally. Consider our strong programs in the School of Business accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The program in Accountancy, for example, is one of a few that are nationally accredited. And for the last three semesters, our Accountancy majors have scored in the 95th percentile nationally on the Major Field Exam given by the Educational Testing Service. Our accounting graduates have been very successful in finding internship and employment opportunities at the top accounting firms and corporate employers in St. Louis and the Metro-East. Perhaps you employ some of them!

The School of Engineering provides the most comprehensive undergraduate engineering education available in the region. A multi-disciplinary robotics course was introduced this year through National Science Foundation funding, and students are now working on a new solar car to enter in a national race next summer. Just this week, this same group of students won a national contest for robotic design.

In graduate education, we were one of 15 Master's institutions in the United States to receive funding from the Sloan Foundation and the Council of Graduate Schools to develop and implement a Master's in Biotechnology Management and a Master's in Environmental Science Management. Additionally, we were one of a select few Master's institutions to receive funding from the Ford Foundation and the Council of Graduate Schools to study the feasibility of Masters' degrees in Criminal Justice and in Professional and Technical Writing.

Our new programs, the improving quality of our undergraduate student body, our rising academic reputation score, and the achievements of our faculty have made important contributions in building SIUE's reputation. SIUE has a well-crafted Vision Statement, which states that SIUE, "as a premier Metropolitan University, will be recognized nationally for the excellence of its programs and development of professional and community leaders." We have wonderful long-term goals to emphasize as we move forward in this quest: engaged students and capable graduates; innovative high-quality programs; committed faculty and staff; harmonious campus climate; active community engagement; sound physical and financial assets; and excellent reputation. In fact, I have given you today a business card with the Vision, Values, and Mission of SIUE on it. This is the business of SIUE!

In going about our business, we have made important intellectual, cultural, and social contributions to the metropolitan area. As we prepare for our 50th anniversary in 2007, we look forward to doing a better job in communicating the excellent reputation we've earned over the years. This should generate awareness and interest in the University and the region, as well as nationally.

We also intend to further align our enrollment management program to attract and retain increasingly better students who can be academically challenged by our faculty, while maintaining our commitment to diversity. In fact, this process has already begun, as can be seen by the rise in our average ACT score this fall.

We will also strive to position SIUE as a premier Metropolitan University in the marketplace of ideas by developing a carefully fashioned campaign to communicate who we are. In fact, some of you may be called to respond to our upcoming telephone survey about perceptions in the region concerning SIUE's contributions or to provide data for an economic impact study to be completed in 2005.

We will also develop our resource base without waiting for an improved economy or for more income from the state. We will pursue more funds raised from private, corporate, and foundation donors, more grants, and more contracts. These grants, contracts, and other funds will also help the University to continue making contributions to the economic welfare and growth of our region. We can expect more off-campus residential students added to the 2,100 now here, and we will remain one of the largest employers in Madison County, with over 2,000 employees. But, the value of SIUE for the local economy goes far beyond these contributions. In FY 02, the latest year for which data are available, SIUE ranked in the top 10% in total federal grants for research and development among more than 3,000 accredited institutions across the country. In FY 04, we expended $20.4 million on research and development. A report two years ago by BJK Associates for the U.S. Small Business Administration, showed that there is a significant positive relationship between funds spent on university research and development and the economic growth of the region. The five years of data analyzed by BJK Associates showed that changes in research and development expenditures in a given year had a major impact on the next five years of local economic development. The relationship is so strong that Cognetics, Inc., a Cambridge, Mass. consulting group, reported that universities today are the most important components necessary for economic growth, because economic growth today is inescapably knowledge-based.

Many of the examples of excellence at SIUE reflect this national pattern and contribute significantly to the economic growth of the metropolitan area. For example, the SIUE Construction Leadership Institute is an Executive Education Program for individuals who seek to prepare for leadership roles in the construction industry. The Institute provides the knowledge, frameworks, and strategies individuals need to lead in a challenging business environment. The program enables participants to broaden their perspectives through seminars on Leadership, Communications, Team-Building, Crisis Management, Risk Management, Construction Ethics, Construction Finance, Legal Issues in Construction, and Human Resource Issues in Construction. A seminar on Strategic Planning also addresses critical issues facing the construction industry. The Construction Leadership Institute is a partnership among the construction industry, the School of Business, and the School of Engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Sponsors include the Southern Illinois Builders Association (SIBA) and the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of St. Louis. Program faculty include industry experts, SIUE faculty, and consultants specializing in construction issues.

Twenty-five candidates attended the first Construction Leadership Institute offered between January and April 2004. The program was a great success, because it offered a team-based environment, the contribution of nationally-known industry experts, interaction among participants, and outstanding presentations. Based upon feedback from the first Construction Leadership Institute, the Industry Steering Committee has reinforced the strengths of the program and provided new enhancements, such as group discussions with CEOs and additional assessments, which will be implemented in the second Construction Leadership Institute to be held between January and March, 2005 at SIUE.

The Entrepreneurship Center and the Small Business Development Center in the School of Business help scores of Southwestern Illinois businesses start, grow, and prosper every year. The Advisory Board of the Entrepreneurship Center, composed of representatives from regional economic development organizations and private businesses, is in the process of creating an ambitious agenda to support high potential growth firms in our region. The Center, a part of the Governor's "Opportunity Returns" program, will also uncover ways in which the business climate of Southwestern Illinois encourages or discourages growth. The Center will bring what is learned to the business community and state and local governments so that we can have an even more business-growth friendly climate.

Another example of our faculty working in the community is the 2+2+2 Engineering Program with Lewis & Clark Community College. The goals of this program are to create a sound curriculum meeting student needs for workplace skills in areas of engineering technology and support. The program also seeks to accommodate multiple pathways for advanced degree programs. The first "2" refers to local high school students who learn math, science, computer programming, and manufacturing fundamentals. The result is persons interested in manufacturing who become a potential supply of shop floor personnel. "2+2" refers to the fact that high school graduates can pursue further manufacturing education through an associate of applied science degree at Lewis & Clark Community College. This program produces a new supply of technical personnel. "2+2+2" caps the training experience with a B.S. degree in Manufacturing Engineering from SIUE, resulting in a new supply of engineering and potential management personnel.

The 2+2+2 program faculty collaborate with the Southwestern Illinois Advanced Manufacturing Institute (SIAM). Directed by School of Engineering faculty and assisted by other faculty, plus faculty from Lewis & Clark Community College, SIAM seeks to help create an environment in which manufacturing and technical enterprises may be generated and sustained. SIAM has a key role to play in the economic growth of our region. Twenty percent of bi-state jobs are located in the manufacturing sector, and those manufacturing jobs pay 20% more than the average job in our area. Manufacturing accounts for nearly 40% of the GSP in both Illinois and Missouri, and two-thirds of U.S. manufacturing activity takes place within a 600-mile radius of St. Louis.

There are other examples of the positive economic impact SIUE has on the community. Our new School of Pharmacy will enroll its first class of 75 in 2005 and will grow to a total of 300 students. The accreditation council for pharmacy education has accepted SIUE's application for pre-candidate accreditation status, and this is the only program in the country to receive this status this year. The need for pharmacists nationwide is expected to grow by 30% in the next eight years. The need for pharmacists in Illinois is expected to grow by almost 20% in the next six years. That means 500 new job openings every year in the state of Illinois (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). And our program is focused on the need for pharmacists in the Southern Illinois region.

SIUE's dental school, located in Alton, is rated among the top dental schools in the nation in scores on national board dental exams. You will find our graduates practicing dentistry in towns and cities across the region and across the country. The Dental Implant Clinic, one of only eight such facilities in the nation, opened in 1997 in a developing University Park, and it continues to flourish. University Park is one of only six in the country associated with institutions with missions similar to that of Edwardsville.

Spring Green Lodge and Conference Center, to open in the summer or fall of 2005, will be the Edwardsville area's first upscale hotel and conference center, and thanks to the vision of Bill Shaw, will draw local and regional conference business to the area. When it opens, the first of its two 54 hotel room towers and an architectural museum will be complete. Spring Green is licensed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to utilize certain elements of Frank Lloyd Wright's intellectual property. The Lodge will host up to 300 conference attendees at one time, making this a tremendous economic draw for the University, for the city of Edwardsville, and for our region.

The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center is a $21.5 million facility, and the only facility in the world that fully emulates both a wet-mill and a dry-mill commercial fuel ethanol production plant. It tests laboratory research to see if discoveries are commercially viable. Proof of viability will increase the availability of fuel ethanol and contribute to air quality, energy independence, and the economy. And the Research Center is also situated in University Park, which is in its own right a crucial part of the way that the University contributes to our region's economic growth. University Park currently hosts 14 outside tenants and 7 University units. It employs 107 full-time workers, of whom 73 (68%) hold at least baccalaureate degrees. There are also 144 part-time staff, of whom 69 are university students.

Next year, in addition to Spring Green Lodge, the Park will host three new facilities. The first is a School of Pharmacy Laboratory Building. The second is a Biotechnology Laboratory Incubator, which is designed to help remedy the shortage of multi-tenant wet lab buildings in the St. Louis area. The building will provide individual wet labs to house up to 12 entrepreneurial companies engaged in biological, chemical, biochemical, and life science research. It is anticipated that this building will be ready to accept its first tenants for the summer of 2005. The addition of this facility complements the cluster of ag-biotech and life sciences assets already accumulating in University Park, and it will hopefully pave the way for opening more wet lab buildings. The third building is a Technology Management Center designed to serve as a multi-purpose information technology training facility. By summer 2005, there will be 12 buildings in University Park, comprising 196,071 square feet of finished space. This is nearly 10% ahead of the projections developed in 1991 when the Park opened. The same model predicts 306,000 square feet in 2010, 523,000 in 2015, and 892,000 square feet in 2020. The current 2005 year value of buildings in the Park is approximately $40 million. Local property taxes are payable on private holdings in the Park, and local governments will have received an estimated $911,000 in tax revenue since the Park opened in 1991. Local government will also benefit from sales and tourism tax revenues once Spring Green opens next year.

The activities that I've described have been designed to promote economic development and demonstrate the role that the University plays in the region. We are interested in being more involved in the region, and we encourage you to let us know if we can partner with your company or organization.

I want you to know that I am excited about SIUE. I am fortunate to have been chosen as the new Chancellor, and I count my role as both a great honor and responsibility. I believe in your University. I know that we can continue to improve and, at the same time, I know that what we will do to gain national recognition will enhance the economic growth of our metropolitan area. SIUE is a dynamic, vibrant academic community dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of its regional context.

The purposes of higher education lie in the fulfillment of human potential. We add value to people's lives. Since higher education is inherently a people business in the end, it is people who make the process successful. At SIUE we have wonderful people, clearly articulated values and goals, and a strong commitment to make our vision a reality. We will succeed, and we invite you to visit the campus often to share in our enthusiasm.

In return, we need your assistance to:

  • remain strong spokespersons for the strength of Southwestern Illinois and SIUE
  • attract strong students to SIUE
  • seek to partner with us to enhance the economic development of the region

Thank you.