National Commission on the Future of UIS
October 31, 2003
Comments by John Blackburn, Commission Chair:
Seven months ago we gathered here to issue a challenge to the faculty, staff,
students, alumni, and friends of UIS. That challenge was to create a visionary
document that would paint a picture of how the university would look and operate
in 2013. I want to thank and congratulate all of you for accepting this
important assignment and completing it with enthusiastic professionalism. An
additional thank you needs to be extended to the Deans and Administrative Staff
that led each of the thirteen Task Forces. I also want to commend all of
you on staying focused and engaged in this process and not allowing the distractions
of current budget issues to impair your vision.
Our goal was to get a concise but clear vision from each of the Task Forces,
specific to the area of the University which it explored. By combining
these visionary statements into one document, the end game is more easily understood. It
is evident that each task force took seriously the assignment of making its final
product believable enough to be considered achievable, challenging enough to
inspire further planning, and forward thinking enough to provide change. Thus,
the chancellor, vice chancellors, deans and consultative groups have a well defined
target as they begin the strategic planning process to turn vision into reality.
From the perspective of someone not closely tied to Springfield or UIS on a daily
basis, a few recurring themes jumped out at me as I read the final statements
from the various task forces. I think it’s important that many of
you believe UIS can become a “nationally known Regional Center of Excellence” in
certain disciplines, such as liberal arts, public policy, leadership, and Lincoln
studies. Other themes came through clearly, and as it turns out, the chancellor
and I found the same themes in our independent review of the visions. I’ll
leave it to him to talk about more of those common theses, but overall, it was
clear that we value a student experience that provides a broad range of opportunities
in academics, athletics, the arts, and social growth.
It seems to me that if we can capture these themes along with our special connection
to Abraham Lincoln in our overall vision and strategic plan, we will end up with
a unique experience that cannot be duplicated.
Thank you for a job well done. Like all of you, I am looking forward to Chancellor
Ringeisen’s assessment of the Task Force results and a vision for UIS.