Chapter 2: An Evolving Mission and Campus Culture
Since 1997, the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) campus has evolved in ways that are a direct reflection of its institutional planning. It was critical that the campus respond to the changing demographics among college students, the use of emerging technology in higher education, and the needs of its students’ future employers. At the same time, the campus was faced with a significant decrease in state funding. A perpetual planning process began that addressed these variables and ways the institution would need to mobilize its resources to meet the changing culture.
The original Sangamon State University (SSU) mission was revised during the campus’ first strategic planning process in 1992. Excellence in teaching was identified as the primary mission of SSU. Further, this new rendition of the mission moved from characterizing SSU as a “public affairs university” to a “university with a public affairs emphasis.” This marked the beginning of a move toward liberal and professional studies, with public affairs as a unifying theme and was followed by the creation of new visions for UIS in 1995 (Development Planning Committee’s Final Report) and again in 2002 (Chancellor’s National Commission).
The strategic planning process in the 2005-06 academic year resulted in a new vision and mission for UIS. This new mission reflects a vision for the institution that embraces its heritage while at the same time prepares the campus for the needs of its constituencies.
The University of Illinois at Springfield provides an intellectually rich, collaborative, and intimate learning environment for students, faculty, and staff, while serving local, state, regional, national, and international communities.
UIS serves its students by building a faculty whose members have a passion for teaching and by creating an environment that nurtures learning. UIS’ faculty members engage students in small classes and experiential learning settings. At UIS, the undergraduate and graduate curricula and the professional programs emphasize liberal arts, interdisciplinary approaches, lifelong learning, and engaged citizenship.
UIS provides its students with the knowledge, skills, and experience that lead to productive careers in the private and public sectors.
UIS serves the pursuit of knowledge by encouraging and valuing excellence in scholarship. Scholarship at UIS is broadly defined. Faculty members are engaged in the scholarship of discovery, integration, application, and teaching. Excellence in teaching and meaningful service depends on a foundation of excellence in scholarship.
One vital area in which UIS extends its scholarship, teaching, learning, and expertise beyond the campus is in the broad area of public affairs. From its location in the state capital, UIS shapes and informs public policy, trains tomorrow’s leaders, and enriches its learning environment through a wide range of public affairs activities, programs, and organizations.
UIS empowers its students, faculty, and staff by being a leader in online education and classroom technology. UIS uses technology to enhance its distinctive learning environment and extend that environment beyond the boundaries of the campus.
UIS will be a premier small public university offering innovative, high-quality liberal arts education, public affairs activities, and professional programs dedicated to academic excellence, to enriching individual lives, and to making a difference in the world. (See UIS Vision Statement)
The University of Illinois at Springfield strives for excellence in all endeavors (see Guiding Values for UIS). UIS values:
Learning—an intellectually vital and flexible learning environment, quality teaching, high academic standards and scholarship, and opportunities for experiential learning;
Students—a student-focused environment characterized by personal growth and development opportunities within and beyond the classroom;
Community—a democratic, ethical, caring, and diverse community fostering the well-being of UIS’ students, faculty, and staff; and
Engagement—informed engagement and service among the faculty, staff, and students, and between the UIS community and the local, state, national, and international communities.
UIS will be recognized as one of the top five small public liberal arts universities in the United States.
UIS will achieve this by creating a world-class liberal arts oriented undergraduate educational experience reflecting many of the characteristics and best practices of small private liberal arts colleges while building on UIS’ many strengths. Among those strengths are professional academic programs, graduate education, and public affairs activities.
The 2007 Mission for UIS carries many of its traditional values into the future of the institution, emphasizing a number of institutional ideals that have strengthened over the years. At the same time, there are a number of new features associated with the new mission that accentuate campus strategies for meeting the future needs of UIS students. Key elements associated with UIS’ evolving mission include:
- Both missions stress the importance of teaching and learning. The new mission stresses an “intellectually rich, collaborative, and intimate learning environment for students, faculty, and staff,” thus emphasizing the importance of learning communities, a key component of building campus culture in future years.
- The new mission places more emphasis on the size of the institution, on small classes, and on the relationships between faculty, students, and staff.
- The new mission makes explicit reference to long-standing methodological hallmarks, including experiential learning and interdisciplinarity; while these methods have been part of teaching and learning at UIS since its inception, the new mission statement highlights them.
- Both missions mention preparation for careers as a learning objective; such an emphasis reflects the history of the campus in both the popularity of its professional degree programs and its service to non-traditional students and working adults. Additionally, in recent years, the campus has sought to attract new populations of traditional-aged students, who see career preparation as a crucial part of a college education.
- The new mission stresses scholarship, thus reflecting a change first recognized in the work of the DPC and its 1996 Vision Statement: “The UIS of the future will be a place where faculty are teacher-scholars, with greater recognition and support for scholarship than at present.” Nonetheless, UIS still uses a broad definition of scholarship based on Ernest Boyer’s model expressed in Scholarship Reconsidered. The new mission stresses the relationships between teaching, scholarship, and service. The UIS Strategic Plan (2005-06) renews commitment to building a culture in which the teacher-scholar flourishes.
- Both missions express the importance of engaged citizenship and public affairs. Both engaged citizenship and public affairs have been an active part of the history of SSU-UIS. In the last two years, both of those concepts have been defined more precisely than ever before. The new UIS general education curriculum, with its Engaged Citizenship Common Experience, provides a broad range of ways for students to serve the community and take an active role in society and the pursuit of societal change. The UIS Strategic Plan continues to emphasize public affairs “by continuing and expanding [its] commitment to making a difference in the world through a broad range of activities that result in reflection, dialogue, and action on public policy and civic culture.”
- The new mission statement reflects changes in the way technology relates to teaching and learning. UIS has become a leader in online education in the last several years, with 15 online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as online certification programs. Online education has changed the culture of the institution as UIS finds new ways to reach out to online students and to provide those constituencies with the intellectual, social, and developmental activities and services available to on-campus students.
Teaching and learning is the central activity of any university. However, it is important to understand, first, who the students are and, second, the environment in which learning takes place. UIS has a rich and growing campus culture that has changed remarkably in the years since the last accreditation self-study in 1996-97. The initial catalyst for the change of campus culture occurred when SSU became part of the University of Illinois system in 1995. In the Final Report of the Development Planning Committee, which summarized the campus culture of the institution, Dr. Harry Berman, the Chair of the Committee, noted that:
… the fundamental character UIS developed in its early years will continue into the future. Features that give unique personality and strength to the campus will be part of the “new” UIS and include our preeminent commitment to teaching, our emphasis on public affairs, our liberal arts and professional programs that serve returning adult students, and our small class size. Nonetheless, our changed circumstances warrant an examination of the lessons learned from the past and the options before us as we make choices for the future.
One of the main changes to the culture of UIS in the past 10 years has been its transition into a four-year university. The initial Capital Scholars program at UIS (fall 2001) involved a cohort-driven curriculum, in which students take the same set of courses each semester. This type of curriculum fosters a learning community with a strong sense of camaraderie among faculty and students. Moreover, the presence of traditional-aged freshmen and sophomores on campus revolutionized the campus culture. In classroom settings, traditional-aged students now mix with non-traditional and transfer students to create a richer more diverse student population. That mix presents challenges to faculty, who must find ways to retain, challenge, and nurture younger residential students, while still meeting the needs of commuter, transfer, and older students. This mix has the advantage of enlivening the classroom environment. Another change in the campus culture has been the addition of the online learning environment. Today, 20% of UIS’ current students are enrolled in online programs. This initiative allows the campus to continue serving non-traditional students who might have limited options for receiving a university education and remain true to the UIS’ heritage of promoting accessibility. (See Chapter 6)
In 2003, UIS began to create a comprehensive general education curriculum for the university. The curriculum needed to be distinctive enough to attract a new general population of freshmen (a complement to the cohort of freshmen in the original Capital Scholars Program), while being flexible enough to serve the needs of transfer students, who continue to constitute the majority of undergraduates at UIS.
UIS has emphasized the development of its campus culture over the last 10 years. As a largely commuter institution that served a large number of working adults, the university’s culture was built around its constituencies; it had evening courses, family housing, a child care center, but an underdeveloped campus culture. The advent of traditional-aged students through the opening of the Capital Scholars Program in 2001 signaled a primary phase in the development of new student services, extracurricular activities, and student life programming.
As might be expected, the demographics of the UIS student body have changed considerably since 1999. The average age of undergraduate students in 1999 was 30.8, falling to 28.2 in 2006. In 1999, only 19.5% of UIS students were under the age of 21, but in 2006 this number had nearly doubled to 32.9%. Today, 18% of UIS students live on campus, as compared to 9% in 1997. Further, a greater number of UIS undergraduates are full-time students. In 1999, 50.8% of undergraduates were full-time, compared to 59.6% in 2006. (See the Office of Institutional Research’s Databook.)
Beyond age and residential status, the UIS student body has also become more diverse in both gender and ethnicity. In 1999, 61.7% of undergraduates were female, compared to 58.7% in 2006. Most notably, the percentage of undergraduates who are white has decreased from 88.5% in 1999 to 77.2% in 2006. During the review period, UIS has seen an increase in Hispanic (1.3% to 2.4%), African-American (7.5% to 10.2%), Asian (1.2% to 2.9%), and American-Indian (.4% to .7%) undergraduate students, with the number of non-resident alien students remaining fairly stable. (See the Office of Institutional Research’s Databook.)
Similar trends appear in the graduate population on the UIS campus, but they are not as pronounced as that of the undergraduate. The average age of graduate students has decreased from 35.6 in 1999 to 32.7 in 2006. The percentage of graduate students who are between 20 and 30 years of age has increased from 39.4% (1999) to 53.9% (2006). The percentage of male graduate students has also increased from 41.8% in 1999 to 44.4% in 2006. (See the Office of Institutional Research’s Databook.)
The UIS campus has also seen an increase in the diversity of the graduate student population. The percentage of graduate students who are white has decreased from 84% (1999) to 70.7 % (2006). However, this change is probably a function of the significant increase in the number of non-resident alien graduate students, from 4.7% in 1999 to 14.9% in 2006. The campus has seen only a slight increase in Hispanic (1.2% to 1.5%) and Asian (2.2% to 2.5%) graduate students and a slight decrease in African-American (7.5% to 6.5%) graduate students. (See the Office of Institutional Research’s Databook.)
Undergraduate Recruitment. UIS recruiters visit more than 100 Illinois high schools that have self-reported minority student populations greater than 25%. The recruiters also participate in community college fairs that draw attendees from the entire community college district. The staff of the Office of Admissions, along with assistance from the UIS Student Ambassadors, follows prospective students through personalized notes, e-mail messages, and telephone calls. A campus official also has met with the secondary guidance counselor director for the Chicago Public School District and provided information for the district’s guidance counselors.
The UIS Capital Scholars Honors Program also is implementing strategies to increase student diversity, such as engaging students in additional outreach activities. For example, in fall 2005, representatives from the Capital Scholar Honors Program attended the 100 Black Men of Chicago–2005 College Scholarship Fair, which attracted over 5,000 students and parents.
Graduate Recruitment. UIS recruiters attend graduate school fairs and distribute information about graduate programs and scholarship opportunities. University officials mail information about the two major financial assistance programs for graduate students, the Graduate Public Service Internship Program and the Graduate Assistantship Program, to historically African-American colleges and universities and to Hispanic organizations. Students from underrepresented groups also are encouraged to apply for the Whitney M. Young Fellowship Program.
Scholarships. During academic year 2003-04, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs initiated the TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families)/Low Income Degree Scholarship program. This program was designed to provide a “safety net” for low-income single-parent students. To be eligible, the student must satisfy the income criterion or be receiving TANF, have at least one minor child, be accepted and enrolled in a post-secondary education program leading to a degree and employment, and maintain a specified GPA. The scholarship program is funded through a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Collaborative Initiatives. During academic year 2004-05, UIS entered into a partnership with College Summit as a means to increase recruitment of students from underrepresented groups. College Summit is a national nonprofit organization whose mission “is to increase the college enrollment rate of low-income students by ensuring that every student who can make it in college makes it to college and by putting college access ‘know-how’ and support within the reach of every student.”
College Summit pursues its mission through partnerships with high schools and colleges and universities. In academic year 2004-05, College Summit partnered with 15 high schools nationwide, including several large districts within a reasonable distance from UIS—the Chicago Public School District, the Chicago Archdiocese, and the St. Louis Public School District. The College Summit has 30 college partners, including six private colleges or universities in Illinois. UIS is the first four-year public university in Illinois to partner with College Summit.
One of the major events that College Summit sponsors is a series of workshops that are held throughout the nation. The workshop is an intensive, four-day event that brings together students, counselors, schools, colleges, and community partners. During the workshop, high school students are trained to serve as peer leaders, high school teachers are trained in college application management, and colleges are given the opportunity to host the workshop to introduce students to their campus. The student peer leaders are trained on how to submit applications for themselves and how to work with other interested students throughout the application process.
During summer 2005, UIS hosted a four-day residential College Summit workshop in which 30 soon-to-be high school seniors completed the college application process, learned more about financial assistance options available for them, enhanced their skills at navigating the higher education system, and experienced life on a college campus. UIS plans to sponsor a second College Summit and is working with the College Summit staff to encourage more students from downstate Illinois to attend.
Faculty Recruitment. The recruitment of new faculty members includes a concerted effort to increase diversity. Search committees reach out to candidates from underrepresented groups through activities such as contacting professional organizations and caucuses and advertising positions on Listservs and in publications that are targeted to underrepresented groups. Some of the deans provide extra funds for travel and informational material associated with reaching out to minority caucuses, bringing in extra candidates from underrepresented groups for campus interviews. As a result of the outreach efforts during the last two years, 20% of the 78 new faculty hires were minorities, including three African-American faculty members, 11 Asian faculty members, one Hispanic faculty member, and one American-Indian faculty member.
UIS also participates in the Diversifying Faculty in Illinois (DFI) program, which is designed to increase the number of faculty from underrepresented groups. UIS has nominated students for this program and, historically, has hired several minority faculty members from the program that preceded the DFI program.
The Office of Enrollment Management was created in November 2001 headed by an Associate Vice Chancellor reporting to the Vice Chancellor for Student and Administrative Services with the goal of improving the campus’ ability to attract, retain, and graduate students who are seeking a high quality education at a small, but comprehensive, public institution.
The significant changes in the student body over the past six years, coupled with rapid technological transformations, have prompted the development of new programs and services in areas pertaining to enrollment and student support services in order to effectively serve the needs of a changing student population. New curricular offerings; an increased emphasis on marketing and recruitment; a new integrated information system for the campus; an increased need for financial support that follows from changes in the student populations served as well as dramatic increases in tuition, fees, and housing costs; a younger student body who are facing challenges in making the transition from living at home to living independently; an increasing number of students with special needs; and a more traditional student body who are seeking guidance with career choices have prompted a significant investment in staffing, programming, and technologies that will ensure students have opportunities to achieve their educational goals.
In order to effectively meet the changing needs of UIS’ student body, offices in the areas of enrollment management and student support services have engaged in a variety of evaluative methods followed by program and service enhancements. In addition, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and her staff have provided additional assistance and leadership by periodically assessing student perceptions through methodologies including nationally-normed surveys of the student body (NSSE and SSI), campus-based surveys, telephone or face-to-face interviews, focus groups, faculty and student advisory boards. The results from these assessments are shared with the chancellor’s cabinet, the academic cabinet, and various other campus constituencies to identify actions that may be taken to enhance the educational experience of UIS’ student body.
Other examples of assessments and subsequent actions taken include focus groups conducted with students, faculty, and alumni over the past three years, which have prompted significant changes in the campus’ commencement ceremonies (allowing all graduates to participate in a single ceremony) and to campus preview days (allowing for more interaction among prospective students and their parents, current students, faculty, and staff). Finally, systematic feedback is received from a faculty advisory board and a student advisory board who are asked to consider issues pertaining not only to enrollment and student support practices and policies but also to the broader division of student affairs.
The results obtained from these assessments have also played a major role in the development of the six goals, and corresponding action strategies, in the UIS Strategic Plan—especially goal five that addresses recruitment and retention.
Some of the hallmarks achieved over the past several years include:
- Increasing not only the size but the diversity of the student body, including the recruitment of a new freshmen cohort in fall 2006;
- The development of several partnerships with external constituent associations including the American Association of University Women, College Summit, and Golden Apple;
- The implementation of a new integrated information system enhances student services in areas pertaining to admissions and registration while web-enabled technologies improve student access to other types of student support services for both local and distance learners;
- Enhancements to the campus infrastructure, such as Lincoln Residence Hall, University Hall, and a new Recreation and Athletic Center will serve a critical role in UIS’ ability to attract and recruit prospective students to the campus.
The UIS Strategic Plan sets forth a bold vision for the campus by aspiring to be recognized as one of the top five small public liberal arts universities in the United States. As UIS takes steps to achieve this vision over the next decade, there are several challenges that face the Office of Enrollment Management.
As a thirty-five-year-old university that primarily served upper division transfer and graduate students, UIS does not enjoy the name recognition that many other public universities have with prospective students. Although the comprehensive market research conducted by Noel Levitz in 2001 confirmed that UIS was not widely known, the research also indicated that the campus offered many of the characteristics that are valued by the parents of prospective students: a safe campus located in a mid-sized community with opportunities for personalized educational experiences for students (see Noel Levitz Market Research Report Executive Summary). These characteristics, along with the opportunity to earn a University of Illinois degree, have also been confirmed as important by students choosing to attend UIS over the past few years. Thus, UIS has continued to affirm these marketing messages in its recruiting materials and events as well as in communications with donors, alumni, and other external constituents. While UIS is now attracting more students from both downstate and the Chicago area and collar counties, it must continue efforts to increase student awareness of UIS as a college of choice.
Although UIS has been one of the more affordable campuses in the state, recent changes in state appropriations, coupled with the costs of developing a new lower division curriculum, has prompted significant tuition and fee increases for the campus. Funding constraints are likely to require increases in tuition and fees to continue as enhancements in areas pertaining to academic and student services also continue. Further, UIS campus housing costs are fairly high because of their newness and the debt service associated with the building costs. If the campus is to be successful in achieving its enrollment targets for new freshmen, UIS will need to ensure that the university remains an affordable choice.
Finally, support services to increase student retention and graduation rates remain a high priority for the campus. As outlined in the UIS Strategic Plan, the division continues implementation of the Center for First-Year Programs that will include programming to enhance retention and graduation of both new students and transfer students. Through a campus-wide approach to enrollment management, UIS strives to provide its students with curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular experiences that enable them to make a difference in their lives and in their world.
In 1997, 358 students lived on campus at UIS. These students lived in an apartment setting and were mostly older undergraduates, graduate students (25%), and families (10%). Today, the residential population of the UIS campus has grown by 60%; 835 students reside in apartments, a residence hall, and town houses. This change in residential life has created a new and exciting campus climate. Housing, recreation, student life, and student government programming have created a more lively campus atmosphere. The location of UIS provides a safe and secure environment where students move freely and safely around campus. The residence hall includes a multipurpose room where many student life activities and housing programs occur, classrooms for small group discussion and tutoring sessions, lounges with microwaves and running water, televisions and gathering areas, exercise rooms, laundry facilities, and a café that is open during evening and weekend hours. Lincoln Residence Hall provides innovative, thematic residential choices including the Healthy Lifestyles and the Service Learning/Civic Engagement wings. The UIS Food Emporium (cafeteria) was renovated in 2001 and provides students with a wide array of food options. Basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts are scattered across the residential grounds. This metamorphosis of the UIS residential setting has created an active and vibrant campus life.
The increase in residential students has created a dynamic change on the UIS campus, but it has also provided quite a challenge. Previously, most of UIS’ residential students were over the age of 21. Resident assistants (RA) and resident directors (RD) were faced with very different issues in the residence hall and town houses. The UIS Housing Office, with support from other student affairs units, modified their selection process and training of RAs and RDs to help prepare for these issues. Paraprofessional student-to-staff ratio is 1:35 in the residence hall and 1:46 in the town houses and apartments. These ratios compare favorably to ACUHO-I data from member institutions (1:34.5 for residence halls; 1:121 for apartments).
In 2003, the UIS Housing Office began to use the ACUHO-I benchmarked assessment to examine quality of life issues and satisfaction with facilities and services within the housing areas. Residential students have consistently (2003-06) indicated that they are very satisfied with the safety, cleanliness, and ground maintenance of UIS housing. Students have also indicated their satisfaction in community building programming in the residence hall, town houses, and apartments. UIS also compares well to peer and other institutions on these assessment items. Nonetheless, students have indicated that they are not satisfied with dining costs and services, the overall value of their housing, and their ability to study in the residence hall. Interestingly, while ratings of dining costs and services are low at UIS, they compare favorably to peer and other institutions. This normative data is corroborated with data from similar items on the SSI. (See SSI Data Summary) They are also dissatisfied with their fellow residents “respect for their living environment, concern for their academic success, and respect for differences in sexual orientation” (in the residence hall). These items also show a negative significant difference when compared to peer and other institutions.
In response to this data, housing has implemented the following actions:
- Focused and directed planning on programming and events sponsored by the resident assistants and Housing Residents’ Council, which meet resident developmental and community-based needs;
- Safe Zone Training for all new and continuing resident assistants and resident directors;
- Regularly scheduled cleaning and painting of residential facilities during low occupancy times;
- Regularly scheduled cleaning and safety inspections to review facilities and amenities in those spaces in need of replacement or repair;
- Maintenance work orders are now an e-mail based form, accessible on the housing home page and can be used by students at all times;
- Carpet and appliance replacements have been an ongoing practice at low occupancy times and occur as reserve or operational monies become available;
- Updated laundry equipment by outsourcing/partnering with a privatized corporation;
- Addition of a full-time carpenter to address facility needs specifically found in on-campus housing;
- Pest control maintenance plan in place to address ongoing pest issues;
- Alteration of the parking process to include the requirement of area-specific decal purchase for all on-campus housing lots; and
- A follow-up survey to the ACHUO-I assessment concerning dining options.
Overall, the transition has been very positive. Housing has grown in size and diversity as the campus has expanded. It has supported the academic mission by:
- Cross-campus partnering and collaboration in direct support to and enhancement of the academic mission of UIS;
- Developing more appropriate standards of accountability for student actions and behaviors within housing;
- Increasing the professional backgrounds of staff;
- Recruiting more highly-qualified and academically-successful students to the better-compensated paraprofessional RA positions;
- Implementing more focused community-building events and activities, coupled with more educationally-based workshops and programs; and
- Integrating a benchmarking assessment method into housing’s continuous improvement cycle.
Intimate learning environments now exist in an array of culturally significant areas on UIS’ campus: the rehearsals and performances of student theatre productions and student music events in the UIS Studio Theatre, the student art exhibitions in the Visual Arts Gallery, and the student forensics team practices in their squad room and travel to tournaments, to name just a few. All of these artistic events regularly perform and reach an audience which is local, state-wide, regional, and occasionally, national and international as well.
With the introduction of traditional-aged freshmen in the fall of 2002, the number of events sponsored by student organizations, the Office of Student Life, and other campus departments has increased dramatically. In fall 2002, 54 student events were registered with the Office of Student Life; by fall 2006, this number had increased to 506. Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of recognized student organizations, from 35 in fall 2002 to 71 in fall 2006. (see Table 2-1) While there has been a significant increase in student life activities, UIS students have continued to rate campus activities significantly lower than students at other four-year institutions on the SSI. Nonetheless, while UIS compares poorly to other institutions on this scale, the performance gaps are very small. The new Recreation and Athletic Center and new housing facilities scheduled to open in the next two years should have a positive impact on these perceptions of campus life.
In 1995, the UIS athletic department consisted of five intercollegiate athletic programs: men’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, and women’s basketball. These programs served nearly 60 student-athletes. The athletic department was, and still is, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and was listed as an independent institution.
In the spring of 2002, the department added men’s basketball and women’s softball to the intercollegiate offerings in response to a student survey. The addition added approximately 35 opportunities for student-athletes to compete at the collegiate level. It also expanded UIS intercollegiate offerings to seven sports. At the same time, the department hired its first full-time Director of Athletics and then joined the American Midwest Conference in 2003.
The department then expanded to include two new professional positions: a full-time athletic trainer and sports information director. Through the athletic trainer, the department was able to provide all student-athletes with medical care and a liaison to team physicians at AthletiCare, a local sports medicine clinic.
Two support groups were created: a cheerleading team and the Blue Crew, a student organization that helps promote all of the athletic programs within the campus community. The Blue Crew has grown from 50 members to over 295 current members.
A governance committee, the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee, oversees academic policies and procedures concerning student athletes. Additionally, a faculty adviser reviews the academic eligibility of student athletes and monitors their academic progress.
The athletics program has expanded with the growing and changing student body of UIS. It has been a critical variable in vitalizing the campus culture. The most notable contributions include the following:
- The men’s basketball program achieved their first national ranking, regular season championship, conference tournament championship, and their first trip to the NAIA national tournament.
- The men’s basketball program achieved numerous individual American Midwest Conference honors, including Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year, four players named to the All Conference Team, and nine Academic All-Conference selections.
- The men’s basketball team had one member receive national recognition as a member of the NAIA All-American Team.
- The women’s tennis team advanced to the NAIA national tournament in 2003.
- The men’s soccer team advanced to the NAIA national tournament in 2003.
- Over the past two years, student-athletes have earned 60 American Midwest Conference Academic All-Conference honors.
- Over the past two years, 26 student-athletes have been named to American Midwest Conference All-Conference Teams.
- During each semester over the past two years, over 50% of all student-athletes have been named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll (GPA of 3.0 or higher).
UIS’ changing campus culture brings about the need to strengthen and enhance many of its student support services. As with housing, the dramatic change in the student population brought challenges and an increased amount of student needs.
The UIS Counseling Center provides counseling and outreach services for UIS students and employees as well as psychological consultation for faculty, staff, and administrators needing guidance regarding the handling of specific student situations. The Counseling Center staff also provides training for housing resident assistants and other employees as needed.
Anticipating the need for a significant increase in this type of student support, the professional staff in the UIS Counseling Center was increased from 1.5 FTE in 1999 to 4.5 FTE in 2006. Staffing improvements include the addition of two full-time Clinical Counselors (in 2000 and 2006) and a full-time Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coordinator (in 2005). After-hours crisis coverage was implemented by the Counseling Center in 1999, making crisis intervention and consultation services available on a 24-7 basis. In 2004, a Health and Counseling Fee was initiated, providing student fees for staffing and programming enhancements.
The enrollment of more students, including freshmen, sophomores, and residential students, has presented new challenges for the campus and the Counseling Center. There has been a significant increase in the demand for campus counseling and crisis intervention services. The severity of student issues has increased substantially, resulting in the Counseling Center staff having to closely monitor numerous students and provide preventive and emergency assistance as necessary. Predictably, the addition of the lower division has resulted in more underage drinking, alcohol violations, and referrals to the Counseling Center.
The Counseling Center provides outreach programming on a variety of topics including substance abuse prevention, stress reduction, communication skills, depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues impacting the campus community. The Counseling Center’s outreach programming is presented in a variety of forms including workshops, informational displays, and special events. In 2006, the Counseling Center sponsored 93 outreach programming initiatives, including educational programs, training seminars, informational displays, a social norming campaign, and articles in the student newspaper.
The Counseling Center has administered the Cooperative Institutional Research program survey (CIRP) to each entering freshman class since 2001 (see CIRP Data Summary). In fall 2006, survey results indicated that 35% of UIS incoming freshmen felt overwhelmed in the previous year by everything they had to do, and 13% reported feeling depressed. In comparison, 29% of freshmen at four-year colleges reported feeling overwhelmed by everything they had to do in the previous year, and 8% report feeling depressed. Fall 2005 data for these items were almost identical to the 2006 data. In most years since 2001, UIS data for these items have been higher than the national norms. The fact that one-third of incoming freshmen report feeling overwhelmed emphasized the need to assist these students in coping with stress. (see Table 2-2)
In response to these findings the Counseling Center initiated new programs to address the stress of UIS students. Guided relaxation and stress reduction workshops were conducted during mid-terms and finals week. In addition, a Stress-Free Zone was implemented during finals week, providing students with fun and relaxing activities in which to engage.
Further, the Counseling Center has administered the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey to incoming freshmen since 2002 (see Core Data Summary). The results from the survey indicated that 61% of UIS students consumed alcohol in the previous year. In addition, 28% of the students indicated that they engaged in binge drinking (five or more drinks in one sitting) at least once during the previous two weeks. In 2006, survey results indicated that 122 of the 311 UIS student respondents (39%) had driven a car while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs in the last year. This was a 5% increase from 2004 at which time 34% (104 of 306 respondents) had driven a car while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs in the last year. (see Table 2-3) In response to these findings:
- An Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coordinator was hired in 2005 to strengthen the substance abuse assessment and counseling provided by the Counseling Center.
- Alcohol and other drug prevention programming was enhanced, resulting in UIS receiving a statewide award in 2003 from the Illinois Higher Education Center for Alcohol, Other Drug, and Violence Prevention. UIS was selected for the award from 83 other colleges and universities in Illinois that are affiliates of IHEC.
- In 2004, UIS was awarded one of five $5,000 Evidence-Based Prevention Grants from the Illinois Department of Human Services. The funds were used for a research project on the newly released Alcohol 101 Plus collegiate substance abuse prevention software. The results showed that university housing residents who viewed Alcohol 101 Plus reported consuming significantly fewer drinks than those that did not view the software.
In 2006, UIS received funds from The Network, an organization whose goal is to reduce alcohol and other drug problems at colleges and universities, to bring R5 to speak with students about responsibility, diversity, respect, and substance abuse prevention.
Campus Health Services
The Campus Health Services (CHS) provides cost effective, comprehensive, accessible professional health care to the campus community. CHS provides preventative services and resources that facilitate students’ engagement in their own health care. CHS also serves as an advocate on behalf of the campus community in matters of health and health policies.
In 1997, the CHS staff included a director, who was an RN, and contractual physicians (from Southern Illinois University Medical School) who came to campus two days a week. In response to UIS’ growing residential population, a medical director (M.D.), a sports physician, a half-time nurse practitioner, a health service nurse, and an athletic trainer have been added to the staff. CHS hopes to also add a half-time nurse practitioner and a health educator. The CHS staff are active in freshman, transfer, international, and graduate student orientation, preview days, and move-in days. The topics and frequency of health care programming have been modified to meet the needs of the younger, residential student population at UIS. Programming topics have included male and female sexuality and health care, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, asthma, and pregnancy education.
Students are asked to evaluate their health care service and staff. Students report that they have received good service and feel comfortable with the health care providers. Nonetheless, in 2005 the SSI normative data indicated a drop in the level of student satisfaction with the competency of health services staff as compared to students at other four-year institutions (see SSI Data Summary). Evaluations identified issues with the timeliness and accessibility of appointments, but the increase in staff and the implementation of “open access” hours have since helped with these issues.
The growth of UIS to a four-year undergraduate curriculum, the continuing growth in the number of campus residents, and the overall growth in staff, faculty, and students, particularly younger students, have created new demands for the UIS Women’s Center. Campus and women’s safety needs, as well as cultural and co-curricular participation, have grown significantly. These factors have resulted in an increase in the number of events produced and participation rates and sophistication of Women’s Center events.
The overall goal of the Women’s Center is to improve the status of women in higher education at UIS. The Women’s Center educates the campus community about gender-related issues, addresses matters of particular concern to women, and promotes a campus climate that is safe, healthy, and respectful for all people. The Women’s Center enhances all students’ academic experiences by offering information, support, advocacy, referrals, and programming on a variety of gender-related issues. Since 1997, the Women’s Center annually awards the Naomi B. Lynn Award for outstanding contributions to women at UIS.
Notable programming for the Women’s Center during the last 10 years includes:
- WhistleSTOP. Beginning in fall 1997, the Women’s Center provided free nickel-plated whistles to students, staff, and faculty upon request. Approximately 850 whistles have been distributed in nine years. This program is enthusiastically supported by the UIS Police. Beginning in fall 2006, WhistleSTOP tags were added to the whistles. These 28 brightly colored tags include referral information, such as campus and area telephone numbers, as well as guidelines about what to do if you are raped, how to help a rape survivor, and other safety tips.
- Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) for Women. Beginning in 1998, the Women’s Center has partnered with the UIS Police to present RAD free-of-charge to campus women once per semester. The Women’s Center coordinates the publicity, recruitment of participants, and other logistics; and UIS police officers serve as trainers. Participation varies by semester but, on average, about 25 students and employees enroll per semester and about 17 of those complete the course.
- Campus Acquaintance Rape Education (CARE) Workshops. This program was modeled after the CARE program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. CARE materials were distributed to all first-year students beginning in fall 2002. The program consists of two-hour workshops conducted by the Women’s Center director and trained peer educators. In fall 2003, 85 students participated in CARE, and an additional 65 students attended the workshop in spring 2004. Students involved in CARE requested that the Women’s Center provide an additional CARE workshop for Springfest 2004 and a related event (1 in 4 No More) for Springfest 2005. The number of attendees for the 2004 and 2005 Springfest CARE workshops was 65 and 70, respectively.
- First-Year Orientation. In fall 2005 and 2006, the Women’s Center director provided 25-minute “round robin” sessions to groups of first-year students on the subject of rape and acquaintance rape awareness, prevention, and survival. These were abbreviated versions of the CARE workshops. In fall 2005, 134 students attended these sessions, and 253 students attended in fall 2006.
- Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Each year Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities are conducted. These events include sponsoring a table at the annual Health Fair, and the theme of the display is UIS Students Ending Sexual Violence: We Can Do It. Students that complete a sexual assault awareness quiz are entered in a drawing for Rosie the Riveter prizes. In April 2005, 50 students completed the quiz, and 63 students completed the quiz in April 2006. Teal-colored ribbons and other awareness information are also distributed on campus.
- Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities are produced annually in conjunction with the Women’s Issues Caucus (WIC) student organization and/or UIS housing. Events have included films, speakers, panel discussions, special displays, such as Illinois Silent Witness, and the Women’s Center Clothesline Project. Each year, purple ribbons and information cards are widely distributed during this event.
- Women’s Safety Information. The Women’s Center has an extensive collection of women’s safety, awareness, and survival materials on display. Individual appointments are available for support, information, and referrals. In addition, the Women’s Center staff engages in guest teaching and leads discussions for classes and organizations.
Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA)
The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (formerly the Office of Minority Student Affairs) is dedicated to developing healthy perspectives of cultural differences through educational, cultural, and social programming activities. OMSA actively supports student organizations, offers guidance on issues related to diversity, and strives to promote and incorporate an appreciation for the multicultural nature of society with the collective campus community.
OMSA has developed a marketing and student recruitment plan that focuses on the recruitment of students from underrepresented groups. OMSA has targeted schools and community colleges, as well as community organizations, that serve students/residents from underrepresented groups. OMSA’s goal is to develop long-term relationships with these targeted schools and to build partnerships with local organizations. As an initial step, OMSA distributed information to more than 45 community and nonprofit organizations that primarily serve people from underrepresented groups. OMSA also sent information about the TANF/Low Income Scholarship Program and the Leadership in Public Service Program to community colleges. A recruiter position was moved from UIS Admissions to OMSA to focus on recruitment of students from underrepresented groups, and a Hispanic faculty member was given a non-instructional assignment to assist with recruiting Hispanic students.
OMSA provides funding for the Diversity Task Force, which sponsors activities that help create an environment supportive of the recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented groups. Participation in the Task Force is open to all interested members of the campus community. During academic year 2004-05, the Diversity Task Force provided funding for a variety of activities, including the following programs:
- “Chinese Culture Shock,” sponsored by the Chinese Student Association for their non-Asian colleagues;
- A film series sponsored by Active Minds, a disability awareness student organization; and
- “Merge,” an arts presentation of music, paintings, photographs, and poetry by African-American artists sponsored by the Visual Arts Gallery, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Illinois Arts Council.
OMSA has started a Student Academic Improvement Program (SAI), which is designed to increase academic retention and the graduation of at-risk undergraduate students. At-risk students are identified on the basis of admissions materials, including high school grades, class rank, and ACT scores. OMSA then contacts individual students and encourages them to participate in the SAI program. Under the SAI program, students meet individually for between 30 minutes and one hour on a weekly basis with a graduate assistant in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. During these meetings, the graduate assistant and the student discuss how classes are going and issues or concerns that the student may have about his or her academic progress at UIS. The graduate assistant and student use the Blackboard course management system to review the student’s performance on assignments and exams and to discuss upcoming assignments.
The graduate assistant also helps identify resources and makes campus referrals to assist the students. If a student is in need of tutoring, the graduate assistant will help the student identify tutoring services through the Center for Teaching and Learning or through the appropriate academic department. The graduate assistant and student also discuss other related issues such as time management, the choice of a major and a career, and issues related to personal growth and maturity, such as being accountable for one’s actions. The graduate assistant serves as both a coach and a mentor in helping the student make a successful transition to college.
Although it is too early to formally evaluate the impact of this program, the students participating in SAI have begun to consider issues such as how many courses they can reasonably manage and what major would be a good match for their interests, talents, and abilities. The graduate assistant notes that some of these decisions, along with improved study habits, have had a positive impact on the students’ grades.
Office of International Student Services (OISS)
The Office of International Student Services (OISS) provides the primary support for international students attending UIS. While the Office of Admissions admits new students and issues the I-20 form, OISS assists new international students from the point of inquiry through their orientation and transition to the campus and for the duration of their attendance at UIS.
Primary functions of OISS include:
- Coordinating the arrival of new international students and orienting them to campus;
- Assisting new international students in the transition to U.S. customs and culture;
- Communicating the anticipated needs and estimated numbers of new students to appropriate offices, including student housing, health services, admissions, and various academic programs;
- Ensuring student and institutional compliance with the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) tracking and reporting requirements;
- Advising international students on visa and immigration issues;
- Advising international clubs and organizations;
- Overseeing and administering the work authorization program;
- Planning and promoting activities and programs for international students, as well as the broader campus community;
- Administering the host family program; and
- Developing and nurturing contacts with the greater Springfield community.
At the beginning of the self-study period (1997), OISS was named “International Student Affairs” and served a total international population that averaged between 90 and 100 students annually. At that time, the top four countries from which UIS received international students were China, Thailand, Turkey, and India. Since that time the international population has expanded, growing to more than 280 students by the fall of 2005 and continuing to increase to over 400 in fall 2006. The increases are overwhelmingly due to the rapid increase in new graduate students from India. In fall 1997, seven Indian students attended UIS, and by fall 2006, this number had increased to 281.
OISS provides a variety of programming and activities for students including New International Students Orientation, America night, and tax workshops for international students. By far the best attended and most notable event is the annual International Festival, which draws students, participants, and attendees from across the campus and the entire Springfield community. This event has been sponsored for 29 years and is by far the longest running student event on campus. The 2006 festival drew more than 700 attendees and participants.
Office of Disability Services
In January 1995, students with documented disabilities at UIS were given minimal accommodations and adjustments on an individual basis. Without a formal name, this office was housed within the department of Student Life and made academic accommodations for 23 students. The office lacked a qualified staff and an operating budget to establish continual routine accommodations or to meet accessibility needs of the campus in general. In order to address some of these concerns, in 1997 the university took a proactive approach to the mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act and created a formal office where students could go to request academic accommodations based on documented disabilities. As a direct result of noted areas of concern, the university hired a full-time director and implemented an adaptive technology computer laboratory. All of this was done as an effort by the institution to meet the academic and supportive needs of the increasing population of students with disabilities, as well as to comply with state and federal legislation.
Today, the Office of Disability Services (ODS) has 162 registered students. ODS has a strong commitment to providing equal opportunities in higher education to all academically-qualified students with documented disabilities, while striving to be a leader in the field of service provision.
Continuing on the path of excellence, ODS strives to implement innovative programs and accommodations in order to promote functional independence for individuals with disabilities. ODS provides an environment that enriches the educational experience through inclusion, advocacy, and support. With this support, it is anticipated that students become functionally independent, as well as self-advocating in both educational and personal pursuits. This is achieved by:
- Creating individualized accommodation plans based on the history, severity, and functional limitations of the disability, including adaptive technology and training;
- Providing leadership to the campus community to enhance understanding and support of ODS;
- Providing guidance to the campus community to ensure compliance with legal requirements for access; and
- Establishing a clear set of policies and procedures that define the responsibilities of both the institution and the student.
In order to ensure that the programs and services being offered are meeting the needs of those intended, ODS conducts an annual survey to solicit the level of satisfaction with services as well as to determine any areas of deficiency. The survey allows students a forum for making comments or addressing questions and concerns at the end of the academic term. In addition to the annual survey, the staff in ODS facilitates focus groups, participates in campus committees, and solicits feedback from faculty, staff, and students on a continual basis.
Throughout the last two years, several areas have been identified as potential concerns as a result of survey information and individual feedback. Below each concern is/are the corrective measure(s) established to address the concern.
- Students felt that the adaptive technology lab and ODS needed to have more flexible hours. In response, the office established early morning, evening, and Saturday hours.
- Students suggested a need for a more streamlined process for text conversion. In response, students can now receive e-text and audio files through a variety of storage media including a secure server, iPods, flash drives, or via e-mail.
- Students and faculty recommended that the process for alternate testing procedures needed to establish a better link between faculty and ODS staff. In response, instructors are now given a form to complete outlining specific testing requirements to be followed for all tests that each student will take in a particular course that semester.
- The university community expressed concern about how ODS would continue to evolve in a way that would meet the needs of future students with disabilities. In response, a strategic plan was developed to improve the evaluation and processing of resulting data to close any gaps that may exist, thus improving services. Further, an advisory board was established.
ODS has continued to expand its services to meet the needs of freshman who enter the institution with a documented disability. In recent years, the success of ODS has encouraged generous donors to provide funds for scholarships and for technology upgrades. Often ODS staff liaison with Individual Education Plan (IEP) teams (high school) for incoming freshmen. This helps ease the transition of these freshmen into the college setting. In 1997, only 1% of the students registered for ODS qualified for graduation; today approximately 16% of the students registered with ODS graduate at the end of each academic year.
Career Development Center
As the campus culture has changed during the last 10 years, student support in career development has been enhanced. In the SSI data, the mean satisfaction scores for UIS students were significantly lower than that of students at other four-year institutions for 2001, 2003, and 2005 on the SSI item concerning services to help students decide about a career (see SSI Data Summary). In 2005, the Career Development Center (CDC) began to expand its service areas by implementing web-based career services, increasing the availability and methods of service delivery to accommodate students with a variety of schedules, and adding programming suitable for traditional-aged freshman, sophomore, and online students without disrupting quality services to UIS’ traditional base of constituents.
In 2006, CDC collected survey, focus group, exit telephone interview, and online needs assessment data from current and graduating students on the impact of and satisfaction with the services of CDC. This student data led to changes in the method and availability of the CDC services; specifically, online services and walk-in hours were implemented to meet the needs of the both on-campus and online students. In 2006, the UIS-SUCCESS system was implemented, which is an interactive web-accessible system designed to complement the academic degrees and certifications unique to UIS. The system maintains current job and internship postings that aid students and alumni in finding internships, part-time jobs, and full-time careers.
Office of Student Volunteers and Civic Engagement
The Office of Student Volunteers and Civic Engagement (OSVCE) was established in January 2003. Initially OSVCE was funded through a HECA grant, but it is now supported by the Division of Student Affairs. The immediate and primary goals were to establish an office for student volunteers and service-learning at UIS and to foster and facilitate campus-community dialogues.
Over the years, OSVCE has slowly but deliberately grown to its present state with one full-time director, one part-time community coordinator, and one resident assistant/graduate assistant. Currently OSVCE maintains over 125 community partnerships with local agencies, services, schools, and public facilities to coordinate volunteer needs and opportunities with student and campus volunteer efforts. The primary purpose of this office is to connect service and learning to social justice and civic engagement while fostering responsive, reciprocal partnerships between students, faculty, staff, and the community.
Recreation is a critical part of any campus culture. Currently, the UIS Recreational Sports program is housed in the temporary buildings, along with the gymnasium, and includes a fitness area and multipurpose room. The new Recreation and Athletic Center (RAC) is scheduled to open in 2007. It is located on the south side of campus adjacent to the soccer field, town houses, and Lincoln Residence Hall. The RAC will house three collegiate-length basketball and volleyball courts that can convert to a 3,000-seat performance arena, a three-lane elevated running track, two racquetball courts that convert to squash courts via a sliding glass rear wall, a large multipurpose aerobics/exercise room, cardio and weight-training areas, and recreation and athletic department offices. The gymnasium will be home to the Prairie Stars varsity men’s and women’s basketball teams and the women’s volleyball team. This state-of-the-art center is part of the university’s strategic plan to create a more vibrant campus for a growing number of residential and commuter students.
The UIS Recreational Sports program has grown in the number of participants and diversified programs during the last 10 years. The present fitness center was renovated and new exercise equipment purchased. A new outdoor recreational park area was constructed near the residence hall, including a lighted, sand volleyball court, a lighted, outdoor basketball court, a grass softball field, and additional grassy playfields for flag football and soccer. A second lighted outdoor basketball court was constructed at another site across campus. Recreational programming has included:
- Informal open recreation;
- Intramural sports, such as badminton, basketball, flag football, futsal, kickball, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball;
- Fitness and instructional programs, such as structured activities emphasizing lifetime recreation leisure pursuits, physical fitness, health, and wellness. Non-credit instruction classes, lessons, clinics, workshops, or clubs include tennis, golf, or fencing lessons; toning and conditioning, step aerobics, body-sculpting, kickboxing aerobics, yoga, martial arts or self-defense classes; weight-training clinics;
- Outings and trips include off-campus day or weekend excursions for participation in outdoor sports and recreation or attendance of spectator sporting events, such as include golf, disc golf, bowling, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, ice skating, skiing, college or professional sports games;
- Sport clubs, such as non-varsity athletic and recreation student clubs organized to compete extramurally with other local or college teams, including UIS Cricket Sport Club, UIS Ultimate Disc Sport Club, UIS Disc Golf Sport Club, UIS Baseball Sport Club, UIS Women’s Club Soccer or UIS Men’s Club Volleyball; and
- Special events include singly-held events; annual events observed; assisting with campus community recreational-related events. Examples of this include First Week, Homecoming, National Recreational Sports and Fitness Day, or UIS Springfest.
Climate issues become critical in any kind of cultural change, and college campuses are no different. As the campus culture has evolved, UIS has used various methods to stay attuned with these climate issues. In the late 1980s, the Diversity Task Force (DTF) was established to “advocate for; nurture; honor; and model effective practices and foster an inclusive campus community rich in diversity, justice, respect and dignity.” One of the main activities of DTF is to support and encourage diversity awareness initiatives. In 2000, DTF conducted a student campus climate survey, and in 2006, they conducted both a student and a faculty/staff campus climate survey. Items on the Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) and National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) also provide an indication of the campus climate (see SSI Data Summary and NSSE Data Summary). These results are fully documented in the Report on the Participation and Success of Underrepresented Students and Staff submitted to the IBHE in August 2001 and again in January 2007.
Overall these measures of campus climate indicate that:
- Most students “feel comfortable” at UIS and would still attend UIS if they could start over.
- Most faculty and staff “feel comfortable” at UIS and would still work at UIS if they were to start over.
- Students are generally positive about the institution in terms of the university being responsive to the needs of students, providing equal opportunities for students to become involved in campus-wide activities and to be employed on campus, being treated fairly in student grievance/disciplinary processes and by campus police, and feeling comfortable in campus housing.
- Some student groups expressed lower satisfaction levels as compared to other student groups (although in each of the cases the percentage of positive replies exceeded the percentage of negative replies). When compared to all student groups:
- Minority students, international students, and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual, and Queer/Questioning) students were less satisfied with the university’s knowledge, concern, and responsiveness to the needs of students;
- International students and students with disabilities were less satisfied with student employment opportunities on campus;
- International students were less satisfied with their ability to be involved in campus-wide activities;
- International and minority students were less satisfied with fair treatment in grievance/disciplinary processes;
- Students with disabilities were less satisfied with fair treatment by campus police;
- Students with disabilities were less satisfied with facilities being accessible to people with disabilities;
- International students, minority students, and LGBTQ felt less comfortable in campus housing.
- Faculty and staff are generally positive about the institution in terms of the university being knowledgeable, caring, and responsive to their needs; having an equal opportunity to become involved in campus-wide activities; and being treated fairly in the grievance/disciplinary processes and by campus police.
- Some faculty/staff groups expressed lower satisfaction levels as compared to other faculty/staff groups (although in each of the cases the percentage of positive replies exceeded the percentage of negative replies, except for LGTBQ faculty/staff). When compared to all faculty/staff groups:
- Female faculty, minority faculty/staff, faculty/staff with disabilities, LGTBQ faculty/staff, and female staff (responsive only) were less satisfied with the university’s knowledge, concern, and responsiveness to the needs of faculty/staff.
- Female staff, minority faculty/staff, and LGBTQ faculty/staff were less satisfied with fair treatment in grievance/disciplinary procedures.
The ACUHO-I housing assessment has also generated some findings concerning campus climate. Students have consistently indicated their satisfaction with resident assistants’ appreciation of ethnic diversity (residence hall) and the extent to which living on campus enhances their ability to appreciate different cultures (apartments). Nonetheless, students living in the residence hall have consistently indicated dissatisfaction with fellow residents regarding respect for differences in sexual orientation. This finding is consistently and significantly lower than peer and other institutions.
In response to these findings, UIS has developed an improvement plan designed to enhance the campus climate for underrepresented groups. UIS will continue to offer programs and activities that are designed to promote diversity on campus and provide individuals from diverse groups a sense of belonging (see Campus Activities for Underrepresented Groups, 2005-07). Further, UIS will continue to support student clubs and organizations that encourage a sense of belonging for students from underrepresented groups (see Campus Organizations for Underrepresented Groups). As part of its strategic planning, the university has adopted the following action step:
Develop an institutional definition of diversity; more important, establish benchmarks that are appropriate for the institution. Determine how the institution will know when the benchmarks regarding diversity have been attained. (UIS Strategic Plan, Action Step 15)
The UIS Strategic Plan also includes a strategic thrust to “Improve Access and Opportunity for Traditional and Non-traditional Students.” This thrust states:
Recognizing the shifting demographics and economics of [Illinois'] citizenry, UIS will be recognized as a leader in providing access and opportunity for traditional and non-traditional learners. The Office of Enrollment Management will discuss plans with the Academic Cabinet to ensure that goals are communicated effectively. Assure than no Illinois resident is denied a UIS education solely on need constraints. (UIS Strategic Plan, Strategic Thrust 1)
To achieve this thrust, the university has identified the following action steps:
- Annually align recruitment plans with state demographics to increase diversity of the student body to mirror ethnic, racial, economic, geographic, physical abilities, and family demographic backgrounds (UIS Strategic Plan, Action Step 18)
- Expand participation in Project Midstate Student Support for Teaching (MSST), President’s Award Program (PAP), UIS Leadership in Public Service Program (LPSP), and Whitney M. Young Fellowship Program to support and encourage a diverse student body. (UIS Strategic Plan, Action Step 20)
The UIS campus is relatively free of crime. Crime statistics for the past three years are readily available from the UIS Police website. In 2000, the UIS public safety department became the UIS Police in response to jurisdictional and liability concerns. Since that time, the university has implemented a number of initiatives to ensure the safety of faculty, staff, and students: (1)increased the police force from 9 to 15; (2)implemented camera surveillance at card swipe entrances; and (3)performed emergency response upgrades.
Student responses on the SSI have continually identified “the campus is safe and secure for all students” as a source of satisfaction since 2001. Students also noted satisfaction that “parking lots are well-lighted and secure” in 2001 and 2003. Comparative data on these items has indicated that the satisfaction of UIS students is consistently and significantly higher than that of students at other four-year institutions. However, students indicated dissatisfaction with the speed in which “security staff respond to emergencies” in both 2001 and 2003. Satisfaction with this item increased in 2005, and the gap between importance and satisfaction increased. (See Table 2-4)
Further, the ACUHO-I housing assessment has consistently shown positive student ratings concerning safety in the residence hall, in rooms/apartments, walking on campus, and security of possessions. These items have consistently compared favorably to peer and other institutions.
The last 10 years has represented a time of dramatic change for the UIS campus and its culture. The lower division expansion and addition of an online learning environment (see Chapter 6) has presented the campus with significant challenges in building a culture that meets the needs of all of UIS’ constituencies. The self-study analysis provides evidence that UIS has engaged in a process of planning and review as the campus culture has evolved. This process involves recognizing not only UIS’ accomplishments but also the areas that need improvement and determining how the campus intends to improve the institution in the future.
UIS’ major strengths in relationship to mission and campus culture are summarized below.
- UIS has completed a comprehensive strategic planning initiative that has produced a new mission statement reflecting its heritage, current strengths, and future aspirations. A cycle of continuous improvement has been embedded into institutional planning as a way to incorporate constituency feedback into this process. An array of performance indicators are used within annual and strategic planning processes at UIS.
- In the last decade, the UIS student population has become more racially and ethnically diverse. With the addition of a lower division, the campus has seen an increase in traditional-aged students, thereby creating a significant shift in the campus culture. The addition of a residence hall and town houses has generated a 50% increase in the residential population of UIS. As the student population has become more diverse and residential, there has been a dramatic increase in student life activities, residential programs, and athletic and recreational opportunities.
- Enhancements to the campus infrastructure and a thriving residential life enable UIS to attract and recruit prospective students. Student support services have been expanded in the areas of personal counseling, career counseling, and health service in response to the changing demographics of the UIS campus. The implementation of an integrated information system has enhanced student services in the areas of admissions and registration.
- An analysis of the campus climate survey indicates that most students, faculty, and staff feel comfortable at UIS, would still attend or work at UIS if they were to start over, and are generally positive about the institution in terms of the university being knowledgeable, caring, and responsive to their needs. UIS students have indicated that the campus is a safe and secure setting. UIS campus crime statistics, SSI data, and ACHUO-I housing assessment data support this perception.
Areas of concern or in need of improvement are listed below.
- UIS strategic planning has provided an ambitious vision for the campus, requiring continued growth in student enrollment and diversity. UIS has just emerged from a period of state-imposed budget rescissions, and it must assess which areas of campus have emerged from this period with the greatest need. UIS must expand and strengthen its outreach efforts to alumni and donors.
- Although UIS has been one of the more affordable campuses in the state, recent changes in state appropriations, coupled with the costs of developing and implementing a new lower division curriculum, have prompted significant tuition and fee increases for the campus. Fall 2006 tuition and fee rates rank UIS as seventh highest among the 12 Illinois public universities, moving it from one of the lowest schools in affordability to mid-level. UIS’ campus housing costs are fairly high compared with other state universities that have a more diversified portfolio of housing stock. Consequently, the total cost of attendance at UIS is relatively high compared to other non-research public institutions. If the campus is to be successful in achieving its enrollment targets for new freshmen, UIS will need to ensure that the university remains an affordable choice.
- As UIS students become increasingly more traditional and residential, UIS will need to monitor and assess the adequacy of student support services. As UIS expands its lower division, the full implementation and further expansion of its Center for First Year Programs along with expanding outreach activities that are aimed at generating greater feelings of inclusion by those traditionally underrepresented on this campus will be critical to retention efforts.
- The climate survey revealed that the LGBTQ faculty/staff campus groups have negative perceptions of UIS’ climate and support. Further, the ACUHO-I housing assessment shows that students living in the residence hall have consistently (2003-06) indicated dissatisfaction with fellow residents regarding respect for differences in sexual orientation. The Chancellor has determined that addressing this issue is a priority for academic year 2007-08.
As UIS continues to build its new campus culture in response to the changing student demographics, it will also need to continually enhance its strengths and respond to items of concern. To do so, the campus must monitor performance indicators in a number of areas on an ongoing basis:
- Student enrollment (undergraduate, transfer, graduate, and online);
- Student demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, international status);
- Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) data;
- National Survey of Student Engagement (NESSE) data’
- Campus climate surveys;
- Housing assessment information;
- Campus safety statistics;
- Amount and availability of financial aid;
- Tuition and fee rates;
- Housing costs; and
- Rate of state funding.
Monitoring these indicators will be critical to UIS’ ability to build a campus culture that is responsive to the needs of students and attractive to potential students. UIS’ recent strategic planning initiative has produced a number of action plans responsive to many of the identified challenges. UIS has already begun to make progress on many of these action plans.
- The strategic plan and campus budget are directly linked. The Campus Planning and Budget Committee is aligning goals and objectives with the strategic plan so action plans will be funding priorities.
- The Diversity Task Force has identified measures that will assess variables associated with campus climate and provide comparisons with peer institutions.
- UIS has provided Safe Zone training and the creation of Safe Allies throughout campus. These educational opportunities will provide allies with effective strategies to communicate with individuals seeking a Safe Zone to discuss concerns. Participants also gain a better understanding of their own strengths and limitations regarding LGBTQ issues.
- Housing has added a new cable channel (LOGO) that provides LGBTQ programming.
- A new capital campaign, Brilliant Futures, for the University of Illinois was announced in June 2007. This campaign for the university will be unique in that each campus will focus on its own strategic needs. For UIS, the fundraising campaign will focus on the priorities and strategic goals identified in its strategic plan.
- A new residence hall (200 beds) and new town houses (24 units) will increase the number of residential students. The new residence hall will expand student social and dining opportunities and provide a larger and more conveniently located bookstore (see New Residence Hall Design Plan).
- The UIS Recreation and Athletic Center is scheduled to open in 2007. This state-of-the-art facility is part of the university’s strategic plan to create a more vibrant campus for a growing number of residential and commuter students.
In keeping with the strategic goals of enriching individual lives and making a difference in the world, an Annual Campus Dialogue program will be developed and implemented at UIS, beginning in academic year 2008-09. The program will serve as a major integrative framework and an organizational foundation for various efforts to create and sustain a campus atmosphere that is intellectually, culturally, socially, and personally vibrant and enriching. The program will promote thoughtful reflection, learning through productive dialogue, and informed action on important and timely issues involving public policy and civic culture. The initiation of this program is in direct response to the strategic intent to create campus dialogue that facilitates and sustains a community that celebrates diversity and encourages civility.