Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE
Vaughn Vandegrift
Vaughn Vandegrift
Institutional Header


Report to the University

'Achieving National Recognition during the National Recession'

by SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift

October 28, 2010

Morris University Center, Meridian Ballroom

Welcome and good morning. Although President Poshard's attendance has already been acknowledged by Provost Ferguson, I'd like to offer special thanks to Dr. Poshard on behalf of SIUE for his contributions to higher education in Illinois during these difficult economic times.

Several years ago, when we first embraced the SIUE vision to be nationally recognized for the excellence of our programs and development of professional and community leaders, there was no economic downturn and certainly no sign of what is being called the "Great Recession." Now, as the impact of the national recession on Illinois and SIUE continues unabated, and having already faced budget shortfalls and reductions while freezing tuition, it is instructive to consider where we are in realizing our goal of achieving our vision for national recognition by 2015.

A University becoming nationally recognized for the excellence of its programs must have dynamic programs that are not only advancing intellectually but attracting students. We have done very well in this regard. We have increased the size of our incoming freshman class by 18% since 2005 from 1,748 students to 2,065 students while maintaining an average ACT of 22.5. And we have been able to grow our freshman class to an all-time enrollment record while maintaining our commitment to economic and ethnic diversity. In fall 2005, 9.4% (1,263) of students at the University identified themselves as African American compared to 11.2% (1,587) this fall. Hispanic students have increased from 1.6% (212) in 2005 to 3.0% (421). This year we were among few public universities in Illinois to experience enrollment growth, and we have surpassed both Eastern and Western Illinois Universities to become the sixthlargest of twelve public institutions in the State. Our total enrollment of 14,133 represents an enrollment record for SIUE and an increase of 5.0% from 13,460 in 2005. While all our faculty and staff have contributed to enrollment success, the day-to-day ambassadors responsible for the recruitment of quality students to our University are members of our Admissions Office. At this time, I'd like to ask Todd Burrell, Director of Admissions, and his staff to please stand and be acknowledged.

As a University becoming nationally recognized, we have shed the so-called "best kept secret in the Midwest" label. Certainly we are not a secret to U.S. News & World Report, the Washington Monthly, and the Daily Beast, national magazines that have recently recognized SIUE for outstanding accomplishments. U.S.News & World Report has, for the second consecutive year, listed the "e" as among 68 up-and-coming schools nationally for "recently having made the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, student life, campus or facilities." Among these 68 up-and-coming universities, there are only seven listed in the Midwest, and we are among only three public universities so listed.

In addition, and for the sixth consecutive year, the U.S. News & World Report 2011 edition of America's Best Colleges lists SIUE among just 15 universities, including only four public institutions, as having outstanding capstone experiences which require students to integrate and synthesize what they've learned during their college experience. Our senior assignment program has contributed greatly to our emerging national recognition. Additionally, and for seven consecutive years, we are ranked in the top tier of all Midwestern universities, including among the top 20 public Midwestern master's universities.

U.S. News & World Report has also cited SIUE as among the best Regional Universities in the Midwest for our contributions to economic diversity, focusing on the 26% of our students who received PELL grants in FY08, typically given to undergraduates with family incomes under $20,000. And, as a result of a newly adopted institutional aid program announced in my 2008 annual address to the University community, we have added to the nearly $143M state and federal grants received by our students. In 2009, we provided about $1.6M of institutional support to 606 students, whereas this fall that increased to $2.8M for 728 students. Please recognize Scott Belobrajdic, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management, Sharon Berry, Director, Student Financial Aid, and the financial aid staff for their good work.

Recently, Washington Monthly ranked 551 master's universities nationally with SIUE placing in the top 50, coming in at 46. Among the top 50, only 14 public universities are listed. It should be noted that the Washington Monthly rankings employ different criteria from the resource/reputational elements used in U.S. News & World Report rankings. The Washington Monthly rankings evaluate what universities do for and with their students, rather than measuring educational resources and reputation. Washington Monthly evaluates just three criteria: 1) community service; 2) research; and 3) social mobility. Each of their three categories includes several components. For example, the community service ranking measures university performance in five different areas, including ROTC; service in the Peace Corps; time spent on federal work-study community service projects; number of students participating in community service; and the number of full-time staff and academic courses supporting community service - all normalized to account for the size of the institution.

The research category considers numbers of students who go on to receive a Ph.D. in any subject; faculty awards; and the total monetary amount of institutional grants and contracts. Finally, the social mobility category considers the number of students who receive PELL grants, as a measure of what the institution is doing to assist underrepresented students in their goals to become college graduates. It should be noted that in the percent of federal work-study hours spent on service category, Washington Monthly ranked SIUE first, and they ranked SIUE eighth in the amount of research expenditures, among all 551 master's universities nationally!

Once again, in large measure, this national recognition results from the work of many faculty and staff at the University. But, in particular, those in the Kimmel Leadership Center deserve great credit for coordinating much of the volunteerism and other activities that connect social mobility and service to leadership. Describing highly ranked institutions like SIUE, the Washington Monthly made these comments:

"…our top ranked master's…institutions don't spend a lot of time and money chasing after fame and glory. They're too busy serving their students and communities well. In doing so, they have a lot to teach academia about giving back to the country." This statement by the Washington Monthly is fully consistent with our stated conviction that if we do the right things and do them well, national recognition will follow. I would like to ask Steve Sperotto, Director, Kimmel Leadership Center, and the staff of the Center to please stand and be recognized at this time.

While we're talking about national recognition for doing the right things well, let's spend a moment on what we do to serve the needs of our campus community for a safe learning and living environment. Recently, the Daily Beast, an on-line national news magazine, listed the "e" as the 21st safest campus in the nation, as part of its top 50 safest colleges list. In considering colleges with greater than 6,000 students enrolled, the Daily Beast conclusions were based on an analysis of nationally reported 2006-2008 crime statistics, required by the Clery Act.

Our community-policing approach incorporates a holistic view of protecting the campus, including integrating police in the community during foot and bicycle patrols, as well as other ways to involve them as visible participants in campus life. And what our police do also assists the actions taken by our residence life staff and administrators. Our safe environment doesn't just happen. It comes as a result of the hard work of the men and women who protect and serve us every day. At this time, I'd like to ask Chief Gina Hays and the members of our campus police who are assembled here to please stand and be recognized for the work they do.

There is yet another area in which our national reputation is growing. Our faculty and staff members have achieved national recognition for their scholarship and for the receipt of external funding for research, grant, and contract support. I have already mentioned our eighth place ranking among 551 master's Universities nationally in research and contract grants that contributed to the Washington Monthly recognition. In FY10, SIUE faculty and staff received nearly $29M in grants and contracts, a 40% increase from 2005 ($20.5M) including $7.9M for research, $3.5M for academic instruction and support, and $17.3M for public service projects. The growth in faculty research alone during this period was a record 155% from $3.1M to $7.9M. Importantly, nearly 40% of all our full-time faculty applied for and received grants and contracts.

As a result of our nationally competitive grant activity and other initiatives undertaken by our faculty, SIUE continues to demonstrate substantive success in scholarly publications and presentations. During the last academic year, our faculty reported publishing a total of more than 900 articles, books, chapters, entries, and proceedings as well as participating in more than an additional 900 professional presentations and creative activities. With support from our divisions of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, a number of the presentations and publications represented faculty work with our students. I do want to recognize as a group all faculty and staff, including the staff of the East St. Louis Center, for what they do to obtain and administer grants and contracts. Would you please stand.

While our recognition is growing nationally, we have not overlooked our responsibility to serve locally. Given its size and natural beauty, our campus is a heavily used learning and recreational setting for the region. Our dedicated 35-acre The Gardens at SIUE has been set aside as a Signature Garden affiliated with the Missouri Botanical Garden as a site of beauty, peacefulness and exploration. And now we are planning a nature preserve on campus.

The proposed SIUE Nature Preserve will be a 380-acre expanse of natural area along the western edge of the campus between the campus core and along Stadium Drive and New Poag Road. The area will be protected from development, and available for faculty and student research and educational opportunities. The preserve will be unique in the region and will position SIUE faculty to compete for research funds. This faculty-led initiative will also facilitate inter-disciplinary collaboration and joint projects with other universities, research foundations, and government agencies. The preserve, pending Board of Trustees approval, will initially be set aside for 50 years to facilitate long-term research projects, and it is anticipated that extensions will last far into the future. The SIUE Nature Preserve will be another example of our University value ofCitizenship, which includes environmental stewardship within our region. I'd like to ask faculty who proposed the Nature Preserve and the physical plant staff who maintain our campus to stand and be recognized.

Recently faculty in the School of Business Department of Economics and Finance completed a study of the value of the additional goods and services produced during Fiscal Year 2010 in the St. Louis metropolitan area due to the presence of SIUE. Our nearly one-half billion dollar ($471M) economic impact per year reveals a 32% increase over just five years ago (FY05, $356M.) We are the second largest employer in the Madison-St. Clair County region with nearly 2,500 full-time employees and a total yearly payroll of more than $130M. Over the last five years, we have completed more than half of a $250M construction and infrastructure improvement plan. SIUE expenditures in the region for goods and services totaled nearly $66M during FY10, and we brought more than 100,000 people into the St. Louis metropolitan area to visit, attend athletic events, conferences and shows.

But our impact on the region is not only in direct spending. Our presence generates almost 9,000 additional jobs and over $250M of labor income in the area. We also increase state and local tax revenues by almost $23M, and students living on campus are responsible for nearly $400K of state reimbursements to the City of Edwardsville. Furthermore, each dollar of state appropriations creates about five dollars of local spending and almost seven dollars of economic impact.

In addition to the direct economic impact on the metropolitan area, we also contribute to an educated workforce. More than 9,000 SIUE students indicate that they wouldn't be living in the St. Louis metropolitan area if not for the University. And with more than 43,000 SIUE alumni in the St. Louis metropolitan area, we provide intellectual capital. In short, while our buildings and land are valued at almost $900M and our economic impact on the region is $471M per year, perhaps the greatest impact is what we do to improve the living and working environment of our region. When you consider the impact of the Edwardsville campus, the East St. Louis Higher Education Center, and the School of Dental Medicine, SIUE plain and simple is a good deal for taxpayers.

Yet, despite our economic impact and the national recognition, the great recession and the economic woes of Illinois have had an effect on our University. Since the beginning of the downturn, I have worked closely with the Vice Chancellors and the University Planning and Budget Council (UPBC) to enable progress during difficult financial times. Just this fall we welcomed 46 new tenure-track faculty members, including 39 to replace faculty who retired or left the University, with seven new faculty positions filled around the campus. We now employ 627 full-time instructional faculty, compared to 578 in fall 2005, and we enjoy the same student faculty ratio (17.0:1) as 2005.

While we have filled vacant tenure-track faculty positions and employed additional instructional staff to keep our growing student population on course to graduation or degree completion, it has been necessary to impose cost-saving measures. These measures have included a hiring freeze for vacant staff positions, limiting purchases to essential items, and limiting travel, among other measures. These actions have not been without stress on our staff. We now have more than 70 vacant staff support positions. Although we have avoided unpaid administrative closures and layoffs, we are short-handed in many areas. It has been our shared sense of community that has contributed to our success during this time. I would like to ask our staff to stand and be thanked for their work during this period.

Despite our actions, with four months of Fiscal Year 2011 behind us and with no monies yet received from the state, we are still unaware as to how the state's economic situation will be resolved. We believe the picture will be clearer after the elections. And while we wait, a newly formed Higher Education Finance Study Commission is considering ways to link funding of colleges and universities to state goals. Among other issues, the Commission will investigate alternative funding mechanisms to advance the goals of the Illinois Public Agenda, including student retention and graduation. What can be said in the meantime is this: We entered FY11 with both a balanced budget and a contingency reserve fund. Should the state's economic situation have further effects on SIUE this year, we also have a published plan. We do not expect to implement unpaid administrative closures or layoffs, and we hope not to need our contingency plan at all. We intend to protect the jobs of our colleagues who contribute to the vital services required for the education of our students. We are not anticipating receiving any state money through the end of this calendar year, but we do expect meeting payroll during this period. I pledge to continue to work with the University Planning and Budget Council and to keep you informed of our financial status. Let's ask Tim Schoenecker, Chair of the UPBC, and the members assembled here to stand and be thanked for their work.

In order to better serve our students, we have been focused on increasing retention and improving graduation rates. In response to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities visiting team Graduation Rates Outcome Study for SIUE and the final report of the University-wide Advising Task Force (both completed in 2007), we have adopted a University-wide advising model employing a cadre of professional advisors complemented by faculty mentoring. This fall we implemented the first phase of the plan by ensuring that a professional advisor counsels every undergraduate student. New advising units have been developed in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering, and 13 new full-time advisors were hired across the campus. Pre-Law and Pre-Health advising have also been initiated.

To enhance accountability in the tracking to graduation process, a new Comprehensive Educational Plan has been created to enable students to take ownership of their own education. Using this tool, students must intentionally consider the educational experiences during their college careers and then create a map that will enable them to achieve their goals. Our next step is to select a software package that will enable us to more efficiently determine when students have difficulty staying on track. Would Cheryle Tucker-Lowe, Director of Academic Advising, and all the advisors in Academic Advising, the Schools and the College of Arts and Sciences please stand and be thanked for their work?

Last fall under the leadership of Provost Ferguson and Vice Chancellor Emmanuel, we opened the Student Success Center, serving students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The purpose of the Student Success Center is to impact retention and graduation by consolidating key academic and student services into one location. The first year's functioning of the Center has been successful, and we have seen the demand for tutoring and supplemental instructional support increase significantly. Our Student Success Advisory Council has proposed the creation of a student retention office, the development of early warning systems to assist students with difficulties, and the involvement of faculty and staff in retention strategies.

We have also initiated opportunities University-wide for students to study abroad, and the newly reorganized Center for International Programs has been established in the Student Success Center. An international task force has completed its goals with recommendations for internationalizing the campus. The next step will include weighing the recommendations in order to double our 2009 level of 325 international students by 2015. Will members of the Student Success Advisory Council, the staff of the Student Success Center, and International Programs please stand?

While we built the Student Success Center and designed a new advising paradigm to affect retention and graduation rates of students, our faculty developed the Lincoln Plan for General Education. The implementation of the Lincoln Plan will include initiatives to document and present evidence of student learning for general education outcomes. The development of the University's first comprehensive multi-faceted general education assessment plan will include authentic assessment measures to integrate better with our senior assignment program. With this approach, we envision the "e" becoming a national model for general education assessment within the next five years. We will also strengthen our curriculum by better aligning the New Freshman Seminar Course to the Lincoln Plan, developing new learning options through delivery of on-line and blended courses and programs, and increasing learning-centered innovations through faculty development activities.

Finally, to better serve students who need alternate paths to graduation, we are planning the introduction of the Bachelor of General Studies degree. These approaches are fully consistent with our previously announced membership in the national Voluntary System of Accountability program and, with our accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission's call for greater transparency and accountability.

Another area in which our faculty are leading the way to serve students is the revised Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) Program. Within one year of its existence, the URCA program involved more students and faculty than the Undergraduate Research Academy did in 18 years. Last year, the newly created URCA program assisted 145 faculty in projects involving 289 students. While faculty supported both funded and unfunded student projects during the 2009-2010 academic year, more than $167K went directly to students in the form of financial aid assistance for their participation in URCA.

Thanks to the hard work of our faculty members, URCA students are exhibiting some exciting outcomes. Last year URCA students and our faculty had three articles accepted for publication. Two additional manuscripts have been submitted, and 41 students presented their URCA projects at professional meetings or conferences. An additional 14 students received departmental, University, or external awards. I anticipate the URCA program will continue to grow and develop and will become one of the centerpieces representing how our faculty serve students at SIUE. Will Vicki Scott, Assistant Provost for Academic Innovation and Effectiveness, and Laura Pawlow, Associate Professor and URCA Coordinator, along with faculty and students involved in URCA please stand?

While we have made strides that should contribute to student retention in the area of academics, we also recognize that the totality of a student's life involves activities that take place outside the classroom. The addition made last year to the Student Fitness Center, the expanding opportunities we have provided for child care with the addition to the Early Childhood Center, and the significant increases in activities supported by our Student Affairs division are having an impact. Our student life staff has reported significant increases in attendance in evening and weekend programs designed to keep students on campus, pursuing co-curricular activities. We are attracting more students seeking a traditional University experience, resulting in increased attendance at athletic events, more intramural and club sports, and growth in student organizations. Walking around the campus, one notices the number of SIUE and Cougar logo shirts reflecting an increase in student pride and the beginning of new traditions, as well as adding to old ones. It's no small wonder that we are appearing on up-and-coming lists! At this time, I invite you to view our newly created campus life video. (After Video) Will the representatives assembled from Student Affairs and University Marketing and Communications, who prepared this video, please stand and be recognized for their contributions to campus life?

We do expect the great recession to end at some point and so we are preparing for the continued growth and development of the University. We have broken ground on the state-funded Science Building project, which we expect to be completed in fall 2012, and are in the process of contracting for a $14M addition to the Art and Design Building. We also have other construction projects being planned. One of these is an addition to the Engineering Building of $12M, which follows from the increase in enrollment in engineering of 15.4% from 1,077 to 1,243 in the last five years.

Beginning in spring 2011, with Board of Trustees approval, we will renovate a portion of Cougar Village to create a living/learning residential community for our fraternities and sororities. Using available funds restricted for building renovation in our housing account, the first buildings will be renovated for sorority student life in fall 2011 and for fraternities in fall 2012. We anticipate approximately 175 students in both fraternities and sororities will occupy these renovated buildings. Residential Greek housing will enable further contributions by Greek organizations to campus life.

We also plan added construction from the recently donated Lukas estate for a $4.2M addition to the Vadalabene Center to provide office space and a state-of-the-art weight-lifting and conditioning center in support of our transition to NCAA Division I. This addition will also free up space for the Department of Kinesiology. As you will recall, last spring I announced the formation of a 43-person committee to perform the required self-study prior to visitation by NCAA officials in the fall of 2011. The addition to the Vadalabene Center will coincide with the completion of our transition to Division I and the certification process we are now undergoing from the NCAA.

While all of our sports are now competing with full Division I schedules, we will not be eligible to compete in post-season NCAA competition until we are NCAA certified in 2012, with the exception of two sports - men's soccer and women's softball. Those of you who are following our transition closely are aware that our student-athletes continue to perform well in competition and in the classroom, with nine consecutive semesters completed with overall team GPAs of 3.0 or greater. Will Brad Hewitt, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Kim Durr, Chair of the NCAA Certification Self-Study Steering Committee, the coaches and athletics staff, and the members of the self-study steering committee and sub-committees please stand and be recognized?

As we prepare for the future of our University, we must, despite difficult times, continue our vision to be nationally recognized for the excellence of our programs and development of professional and community leaders. The support for our efforts is palpable. Over the last few years while in the so-called "silent phase", our capital campaign has accrued nearly $25M in external support and our community SIUE Day has grown. This year 575 of our faculty and staff contributed over $146,000 on SIUE Day, setting a record for both the number contributing and the amount given during the five years of the program's existence.

You will recall I said earlier that a University becoming nationally recognized for the excellence of its programs must have dynamic programs that are not only advancing intellectually but attracting students. Clearly, our programs are attracting students because they are advancing intellectually, and the efforts of our faculty and staff are being rewarded, not only in terms of the contributions they make to students, but in the national recognition of our University.

Our commitment to our students, our staff, our faculty, and the community and region we serve is unwavering. We continue to provide opportunities in support of our ultimate goal: the fulfillment of human potential. We continue to add value to people's lives, and we continue to do so consistent with the values of wisdom, openness, integrity, citizenship, and excellence that characterize our University. We continue to do the right things well. And we continue to achieve national recognition! SIUE is a growing and thriving University. There is no need for any business, or any University, to reduce its staff or lay off workers during a period when the demand for its services is increasing. We continue doing our jobs for the future of Illinois. Let's encourage the State to continue its job and fully support our work!

Go Cougars!
Go Big "e"!

Sources:
SIUE Economic Impact Study
SIUE Press Releases
Academic Affairs FY10 Annual Report
Higher Education Finance Study Commission
U.S.News & World Report Best Colleges 2011 edition
Washington Monthly September/October 2010 edition
The Daily Beast online publication September 14, 2010 edition

facebookoff twitteroff vineoff linkedinoff flickeroff instagramoff googleplusoff tumblroff foursquareoff socialoff