Good afternoon and welcome. It is indeed an honor to be here with you at this pivotal time in our history, as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary. We are here, at this place, at this time, because of the passion, vision, and action of SIUE’s founders and the many contributions of faculty, staff, students and friends. Our history reveals that Southwestern Illinois citizens, concerned with the fact that only three percent of the region’s population in the 1950s held 4-year college degrees, set out to change the course of events. They banded together and through hard work and dedication, generated the community, state, and financial support necessary to capture the imagination of SIU officials, who then opened satellite campuses in East St. Louis, Alton, and Edwardsville. Those founders and builders of SIUE recognized that public education is a cornerstone of democracy. They exhibited the same commitment to social, civic, and political responsibility that we’ve established as intrinsic to SIUE in our expressed value of citizenship. Action results from a commitment to fulfilling the responsibilities of citizenship. And the actions of our leaders of 50 years ago have transformed our region. Today, 20 percent of our region’s citizens hold 4-year degrees. And that core group has seen its dreams come true in the maturation of SIUE, a premier Metropolitan University with nearly 13,500 students, emphasizing the Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, and each year receiving greater national recognition for the quality of its programs. Fifty years ago SIUE was known primarily as a commuter campus. Today, we have almost 3,300 students living on campus, and the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education classifies us as a primarily residential university. Today, despite the beauty of our campus and our signature gardens, entering freshmen and their parents recognize SIUE for its quality programs first. Fifty years ago, we were a branch campus of SIU. Today, SIUE is Illinois’ highest-ranked public Master’s level university and ranks as a top-10 public Midwest Master’s level university according to the 2008 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” published by U.S.News & World Report.
For three consecutive years, SIUE has also been ranked by U.S.News & World Report among America’s 13 Best Institutions, along with Harvard University, MIT and others, for its Senior Assignment Program. The Senior Assignment Program was also ranked as a national model for learning assessment this year by the Association of American Colleges & Universities. Fifty years ago, a few classes were offered by SIU in East St. Louis and Alton. Today, the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus thrives as a model for university citizenship to its region and brings in more than $12 million each year in state, federal and private grants for its programs, including Head Start, Upward Bound, the Charter School and TRIO. And, the Alton campus’ rich history lives on in the SIU School of Dental Medicine, one of the nation’s premier dental schools. In its 32-year history, our Dental School has graduated more than 1,400 dentists. Most of them remained in Illinois and the St. Louis metropolitan region, contributing both to the dental and economic health of our community.
Fifty years ago, SIU was not active in regional business development. Today, a strong interrelationship between SIUE and area commerce is well established. An economic impact study conducted in 2006 reported that SIUE’s total direct and indirect economic impact on the region was $356 million. Today, we have a vibrant business and technology Park. Just last month, the American Red Cross announced that in 2009 they will locate a new state-of-the-art Blood Processing Center and National Testing Laboratory facility with more than 500 jobs in University Park. To our knowledge, this represents the largest one-time influx of jobs ever in the Southwestern Illinois region. The project will have a profound economic impact on Edwardsville/Glen Carbon and Madison County with an annual payroll of about $25 million dollars and a facility that will cost about $50 million to build. It is a pleasure to welcome all American Red Cross employees and their families to SIUE. This incredible economic development opportunity would not have been possible without the leadership of Jim Pennekamp, University Park Executive Director and Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Regional Economic Development. Jim coordinated efforts at many levels – University, local, county, state, and regional - to make this a reality. The work of Jim and others reminds us that there are many ways to enhance the education of our students. The opportunities students will have with the Red Cross, as they now have with other businesses, to work with faculty on research and service projects, provide for educational growth and further exhibit the citizenship of our University. Jim, please stand and be recognized.
Truly, the leadership of the University’s founders contributed to our success. But it was only the beginning. Considering SIUE’s many accomplishments and the resulting recognition, we would not be where we are today if it had not been for members of our SIUE Family like David Werner who provided leadership from his days as a young faculty member to his time as Chancellor. Chancellor Emeritus David Werner spent 36 years on this campus and held numerous positions. He was instrumental in our development as an institution, and last month we were inspired by his words at the Founders Day convocation. We are thankful for his and First Lady Emerita Kay’s continued support of this institution.
In September, we kicked off our year-long 50th anniversary celebration during Founders Week, when we were able to reconnect with many who have contributed to SIUE’s success. In addition to Chancellor Emeritus Werner, former Chancellors Shaw and Belck joined the festivities. Our 50th Anniversary celebration, which continues throughout this academic year, is made possible through the hard work of many volunteers led by Associate Professor and Dean Emerita Dixie Engelman. As chair of the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee, she is working with and managing over one hundred volunteers. Dixie, for all the golf outings I know you missed while you were at the University involved with planning meetings, please accept our heartfelt thanks for your work. We thank all who have helped and will help celebrate our 50th birthday. Let’s now take a moment to watch a short film that is playing on YouTube!
Each year, I hold town hall sessions and participate in other events where I listen to faculty, staff, students, retirees, alumni and community members to hear what’s on their minds. Some of you have sent email messages or stopped to speak with me as I’ve walked around campus, or attended one of our arts or athletics events. Thank you for providing your feedback. I appreciate your comments, suggestions and, yes, even the criticisms. I consider them evidence of your investment in SIUE, and contributions to the future well-being of the University.
This year in one discussion, the father of one of our students left a profound impression on me. His daughter just graduated after transferring from another institution and changing majors. She was told that major factors considered in her admission to graduate studies at the University of Missouri included her graduation from SIUE and her Senior Assignment. That speaks to the high regard other institutions have for the quality of SIUE academics and its programs, and the respect others have for our growing reputation. This father’s story reminds me that we add value to people’s lives by providing access to higher education—not just access to enrolling in a university, but access to a college degree and the improved quality of life that comes with it. We can all take great pride that this University has conferred more than 90,000 degrees to-date. We have almost 80,000 alumni, nearly half of whom live and work in Metropolitan St. Louis, comprising a substantial portion of the region’s workforce.
One of those alumni is with us today. I am pleased to introduce Mark Showers, a 1977 chemistry and mathematics graduate of SIUE and current Chief Information Officer of Monsanto Corporation. A recent Alton Telegraph article described the ways in which Mr. Showers impacts his community and the world at large. As a Monsanto employee for nearly 22 years, he travels the globe to ensure that Monsanto’s R & D efforts assist farmers with agricultural productivity through applied technology. He also gives back to his local community through Board memberships, including the Advisory Board for the SIUE School of Business. We are proud of his accomplishments and, most importantly, of his commitment to the SIUE values that lead to a better future for all. Mr. Mark Showers, would you please stand and be recognized.
During my first report to the University in 2004, I asked that we create our own intentional future by acting in three primary areas. Those areas included managing our enrollment to attract and retain better academically prepared students, positioning SIUE to promote and sustain recognition, and developing our resource base. In 2005 and 2006, I laid out steps I believe are necessary to ensure the realization of our vision to be recognized nationally for the excellence of our programs and development of professional and community leaders. Clearly, the last three years have been very busy. And, the efforts you’ve expended have not gone unrecognized locally, regionally, or nationally. Externally, we have expanded interest in our University, and internally, we have generated enthusiasm among our University community. Today, I want to speak about some progress that we have recently made and comment on some areas of interest.
SIUE is becoming a, full-time, residential university. Two short months ago we opened Evergreen Hall housing more than 500 students, offering several “green” features that promote good stewardship and responsible use of resources. We also opened two new parking lots on Circle Drive, yielding some 900 additional spaces to alleviate the parking problem that has plagued the University, as our commuting student population has become more full-time. We have strengthened our partnerships with the area’s two-year institutions, Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC) and Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC), by signing reciprocal agreements that allow students to readily transfer credits to SIUE as upperclassmen.
Our Fall 2007 enrollment stands at 13,398 students. More than 7,000 applications poured in from 88 Illinois counties*, 41 states*, and 29 countries* for 1,860 freshman positions*, securing SIUE’s status as a first-tier, first-choice University. Our average ACT for the fall 2007 freshman class was 22.7*, up from 21.9 in 2003. That’s two points higher than the Illinois average and one point higher than the national average.
There were more than 340 applicants for our premier Presidential, Chancellor’s, and Provost’s scholarships last year, a nearly 5 percent increase over the previous year. That is the highest number of applications in this category in our history. The University’s Premier scholars are a shining example of our increasingly high-achieving student population.
Enrollment of minority students in the freshman class rose from 223 students* in the fall of 2006 to 305 students* this year, an increase of 37 percent*, demonstrating that we can increase diversity while at the same time increasing the academic preparedness of our students. This year the newly reconstituted Enrollment Management Council, chaired by Provost Ferguson, will be developing a new campus Enrollment Management Plan to carefully balance our recruitment and retention strategies. The Council will craft a plan for achieving optimal student enrollments based upon academic program growth and demand, financial resources, and campus facility capacity. Using evidence-based projections, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Scott Belobrajdic is working closely with academic units and the Enrollment Management Council to develop this plan and to present to the Faculty Senate new admissions policies to better align student admissions with the development of our university.
We have made great strides in building a freshman class representative of a premier institution: Now we must do more to help them graduate. Our 2005 six-year graduation rate of 45 percent is lower than that of the other nine public institutions in the U.S. News & World Report top ten Midwest-public master’s universities’ category. Last spring we invited a team sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to visit us. The team reviewed past and current student success initiatives related to graduation and retention rates. Their review indicated that “SIUE has adopted an active and thoughtful approach to the issues of student success” reporting that the University “has already begun a review of institutional practices that might have an impact on the persistence and graduation of its students.” The initiatives and practices we are working on include BRIDGE. As you know the BRIDGE initiative is a long term, faculty-driven process to improve our General Education Curriculum to ensure basic competencies and provide academic breadth for our students. The New Freshman Seminar implementation is driven by a strong commitment to assisting new freshmen in making the transition from high school to college level work, orienting students to the services and culture of the University, and engaging students in an intellectual community of students and faculty. Through the hard work of the dedicated faculty of the New Freshman Seminar Committee, courses were offered for all new freshmen for the first time this semester. Based upon information gathered in this pilot semester, refinements will be made to the program.
Through a dynamic partnership between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, new approaches to promoting student success are also underway. A new University-wide advising program is being studied and developed by a Task Force recently appointed by the Provost that will complement the recent move of Academic Advising and Counseling, Instructional Services, and Student Opportunities for Academic Results (SOAR) from the College of Arts and Sciences to the Provost’s Office. When we open our new Student Success Center in 2009, championed by Vice Chancellor Emmanuel, Academic Advising and Counseling, SOAR, Career Development and Placement, Instructional Services, and other student services offices including Disability Support Services, Health Services, Counseling, and the Kimmel Leadership Center will be located there. We anticipate that the Student Success Center will improve recruitment, retention and graduation rates, enhance pride and loyalty among University students and alumni, and improve efficiency in the administration and delivery of programs and services. We have been fortunate to have strong student leaders supporting our efforts. As an indication of student commitment to fostering a climate of academic excellence, Student Government recently passed a unanimous resolution to limit activities prior to finals week. I’d like to salute Laurie Estilette, Student Government President, for her leadership. Laurie, please stand and be recognized. Another area where we have focused to improve the delivery of student services is through the implementation of the Banner system, which has already served to streamline registration and advising.
We are not focusing only on our undergraduates. We will continue our efforts to strengthen graduate and research programs. SIUE ranks among the top 25 master’s level institutions in the nation when it comes to the amount of federal research funding and development expenditures it receives; more than $22 million. This year, Research and Graduate Studies has been reorganized to better support faculty scholarship. In recent years, we have experienced a significant decline in enrollment of part-time graduate students. The Strategic Advancement of Graduate Education, also known as SAGE, was set in motion to modify and re-energize graduate school programs to better serve graduate student needs and improve retention. In addition to curriculum revision, additional funding has been allocated to raise full-time graduate student stipends.
As we move forward, our educational outreach programs must be improved to maintain our traditional role of leader in providing post-baccalaureate education to professionals in the region. The Provost has led an initiative to restructure the Office of Continuing Education to provide educational opportunities to students who are limited by geography, time and position. As part of this initiative, Summer Session will be enhanced to increase innovative curricular options and to provide opportunities for students to graduate during the 4-years of their guaranteed tuition rate.
We remain committed to our process of continuous quality improvement. Last year we passed the AQIP Check-Up Visit associated with our Higher Learning Commission Accreditation by the North Central Association. This fall we will complete that process. As we continue to develop new strategies for improvement, I have recently appointed a new University Quality Council to ensure that we conduct our AQIP activities in a University-wide systematic manner and to ensure successful quality improvement. Recent calls nationally for accountability in higher education require that we assess institutional outcomes in an open and transparent manner. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) have proposed a Voluntary System of Accountability by which academic institutions can report the results of their work with students to the many constituencies evaluating institutional performance. Participation would entail reporting university characteristics on-line, including evidences of value added to students. SIUE has been asked to participate and the University Quality Council will be considering our response. We are also considering how the Teacher/Scholar Model best defines the balance among faculty responsibilities in teaching, scholarship and service, as measured by the traditional academic standards of peer review. Throughout this year we will hold campus discussions on this topic as we move toward a consensus model that defines faculty work at SIUE. We thank the Faculty Senate and its President, Kay Covington, for their good work on this. Kay, please stand and be recognized.
By July 1, 2008 the responsibilities of both the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and Academic Computing will be placed under the direction of the Provost. The new position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) will be created separate from the position of Dean of Library and Information Services. Combining Academic Computing and the Office of Information Technology constitutes an enterprise approach to technology needs designed to better serve the campus as a whole.
I personally want to thank each of you for the good work you are doing. SIUE truly is a “special place.” It is special because your efforts positively impact our students. The quality of faculty work is represented this year by Bradley Noble, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, this year’s recipient of the SIUE Teaching Excellence Award; Louise Flick, Professor of Nursing who is the recent recipient of the largest single research award of $4M from the National Institutes of Health for the National Children’s Study; Eric Ruckh, Associate Professor of Historical Studies, who has served the University with distinction this year as Chair of the BRIDGE Committee; and Prince Wells, Associate Professor and Chair of the Music Department, who just received the George Smith Award from the Musicians’ Association of St. Louis for his many years of dedicated service. Bonnie Sanderson, Administrative Clerk for Academic Counseling and Advising, is the recipient of the October Employee Recognition Award for her excellent work. She, along with Staff Senate President Todd Bartholomew, is here representing the dedicated work of our staff. These outstanding faculty and staff remind us that the work that goes on daily at SIUE represents our commitment to excellence and quality. Would you all please stand and be recognized?
Throughout the past 50 years, we have been faced with, and have overcome, many challenges. Recently, we have faced a challenge that profoundly affects both our system and SIUE as a university. I have spoken often today about one of our university values: Citizenship. Another one of our values is Integrity; which we define as, “Accountability to those we serve and from whom we receive support” and “Honesty in our communications and in our actions.” We are strongly committed to academic integrity. We must have a clearly articulated and agreed upon plagiarism policy that holds students, faculty, and administrators responsible for fulfilling our Values and for being responsible to both the academic community and the broader community from which we receive our support. I pledge that, along with the Provost and the Faculty Senate, I will work toward this end. Administrators, faculty, and students all must be held accountable, and the University will fully support those who enforce our policies. Let us all apply our university value of Wisdom in the pursuit of this truth.
In the fall of 2004 SIUE had 528 full time instructional faculty*. This fall that number has risen to 592, including 12 new faculty lines added in the last two years, enabling us to maintain a favorable student to faculty ratio of 16.3:1*. However, during the past four years, our average faculty salaries have diminished compared to our peer groups. To address this, we have identified a fund of $610K to be distributed later this fall using an equity formula established by the Faculty Senate. As a result of effective alignment of strategic planning with budget development in academic affairs this past year, we were able to provide approximately $1.7 million above base budgets to the academic units for equipment, travel, and professional development.
We must also invest in our physical facilities. Turning 50 has its advantages, but it also has its drawbacks. We need to update and improve our space to provide additional classrooms. You have, no doubt, noticed that we are putting new emphasis on the classrooms in our buildings. Last year a number of renovations were made across the campus, including the major lecture halls in the School of Business and the College of Arts & Sciences. More are planned. And, with the capital bill being passed in the Senate, we are optimistic that our new $70M Science building will be approved this fall.
One of the many ways our university generates excitement and loyalty from our alumni base and friends is through our co-curricular and extra-curricular programming. Our Arts & Issues series, our concerts, musicals, plays, and athletics all provide “windows” into the university for the public. Recently much discussion has occurred regarding our decision to move to NCAA Division I athletics. An Athletics reclassification work group, led by Professor John Meisel, will help us take the steps necessary to transition to a competitive DI Athletics program. I have asked that the Reclassification Work Group hold periodic forums since this issue represents not just athletics, but is indeed an institutional decision. Throughout this process, our focus will remain on the student athlete, placing highest priority on academic achievement. We are ready for Division I both academically and athletically. This is no better demonstrated than by our Cougar Softball team that brought home the national NCAA Division II championship this year with a team GPA of 3.17.
Led by Dr. Gary Giamartino, Interim Vice Chancellor for University Relations, in the last 10 months we have completed a detailed capital campaign plan, reorganized University Relations to better serve our donors and future donors, and reallocated resources to assure success with the campaign. We are now in the leadership phase of that comprehensive campaign that will be called, the Defining Excellence Campaign for SIUE. From now through winter of 2009, we will seek and announce major leadership gifts that will help us to quickly and confidently move to achieve our campaign goals. The public phase of the campaign will be conducted from 2010 until June of 2012. Overall, this five year effort will seek to secure millions in private dollars to support the University’s vision. In addition to the planning and execution of our capital campaign, we continue to acquire resources through our annual giving activities. This year, the Edwardsville-Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce adopted the second SIUe Day as an annual Chamber project. Last year’s SIUe Day raised nearly $170,000. This year’s results will be announced soon. SIUe Day reflects the critical partnership the University enjoys with the local business community. Let’s take this opportunity to recognize Julie Babington, Director of Annual Giving, who has been instrumental in putting together both successful SIUe Day efforts.
Yes, SIUE has momentum, but there is more to be done. To fully achieve our vision as a premier metropolitan university, we must commit to recruiting and retaining the highest quality, faculty, staff and students. To fully achieve our vision, we must prepare for the increased demand on all student services that comes with being a primarily residential university. And, to fully achieve our vision, we must enhance and support programs that offer the highest quality to help our students develop their full potential. I have said many times that it is the unique sense of community that has enabled us as we’ve grown as a university. Today, I’d like for all of us -- faculty, staff, students, community members, retirees, alumni, and friends of the university – to renew our commitment to action to secure a stronger future for SIUE and for our region. Earlier I said, “Action results from a commitment to fulfilling the responsibilities of citizenship.” It is now up to us to act: to act to ensure that our students enroll, are advised, proceed through their majors, and graduate in a timely fashion; to act to continue the open, supportive and collegial environment that has characterized SIUE; to act to represent to the region SIUE’s quality academic and co-curricular programs; and to act to encourage and participate in philanthropy to ensure that our programs continue to challenge and inspire the best and brightest students and faculty.
In celebrating our anniversary this academic year, we reflect on the many ways we have touched peoples’ lives; the many ways our faculty and staff have influenced the history of this institution and this region; and the many ways that our graduates have gone on to become productive citizens, giving back to society and, in so doing, also shaping history. Today I’ve chosen to praise a number of faculty, staff, students, alumni and administrators for their actions. But, they are not unique. Rather, they are representative of all of us, each toiling to assist in the development of human potential that occurs each day at SIUE. Professor Emeritus Katherine Dunham, said “I always believed that if you set out to be successful, then you already were.” We are successful. But there is much more to be done. We must act now for the next 50 years!
* Updated on November 1, 2007, to reflect the most current data.