Telling the story of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's route to national recognition through its important achievements and milestones, SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift delivered his annual address today and ended it by announcing his intent to retire at the end of the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
Though many are surprised by this announcement, SIU President Dr. Glenn Poshard pointed out that Chancellor Vandegrift has accomplished much of what he was hired to do, including achieving national recognition for the University, moving Intercollegiate Athletics to NCAA Division I in the Ohio Valley Conference, and numerous construction and infrastructure projects improving the current campus climate and paving the way for the future at SIUE.
"Dr. Vandegrift was hired to take the University to a new level of excellence," Poshard noted. "The substantial progress SIUE has made toward achieving national recognition speaks to the success he has orchestrated during his tenure."
In addition to prestigious recognitions by U.S.News and World Report Best Colleges of 2012 listing SIUE as a top 15 master's comprehensive public institution in the Midwest region and one of 46 "up-and-coming" institutions in the entire country for innovative changes in academics, faculty, student life, campus and facilities, the University has gained national recognition through many rankings and acknowledgments-among them the 2011 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction by the Corporation for National and Community Service; and a ranking among the Top 50 by Washington Monthly among 553 master's universities nationally.
The University will now embark on the difficult challenge of finding a new chancellor to continue the quest for excellence. Vandegrift indicated his retirement will be effective July 1. According to President Poshard, "The Office of the President will conduct a nationwide search for Dr. Vandegrift's successor; details will be released as they are available," he said.
"We are so grateful for his leadership and hard work over these past seven years. He will undoubtedly be missed, but we wish him and his family well in retirement."
Vandegrift thanked the SIUE community for their support. "To have been part of this great university, to not only have been afforded the benefit of appreciating all of its component parts, but to actually have been given the responsibility to affect change toward the realization of its vision for national recognition is something I would never have imagined possible earlier in my life."
Other highlights and challenges for the future from his address included:
"A University that has a bold vision for national recognition must also be a University that believes it can attain such recognition," Vandegrift said. "I've often said that our journey to national recognition would be realized not by seeking recognition for its own sake, but by doing the right things and doing them well. And doing the right things well has both enabled national recognition and catalyzed our advancement as a University."
The University achieved record enrollment for fall 2011 at 14,235 students, with an average ACT score of 22.4. He added that more students than ever have designated SIUE as a first-choice institution when making college plans.
SIUE again has won a spot among the Top 50 Awards from the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA), in recognition of contributions to the region such as more than $250 million in infrastructure improvements in roads and buildings since 2004, and an economic impact that increased from $356 million per year in 2005 to $471 million per year in 2010, according to an economic impact study.
Other key initiatives in the journey toward national recognition have included developing the University's honors program to compete with the caliber of programs available at other metropolitan universities; adding more online courses and programs in order to foster different learning environments; introducing new bachelor's programs in health and human sciences, as well as in integrative studies; constructing a new nursing building to meet the School's growing enrollment demands, and continuing the institution's focus on performance-based funding and continuous improvement.
Vandegrift spoke about SIUE's first major gifts campaign, Defining Excellence-The Campaign for SIUE, and its success from its introduction in 2007 to the launch of the public phase last spring and into the present. Currently the University has received more than $29 million of its $50-million goal.
In closing, Vandegrift promised SIUE would continue being "a beacon for the region we serve, gaining national recognition for the excellence of our programs and the professional and community leaders we produce."