are the remarks of Chancellor Richard D. Ringeisen on March 28,
2003 to the Task Force Members of the National Commission on the
Future of UIS.
Commission on the Future of UIS
Richard D. Ringeisen
afternoon. Welcome! What a wonderful day, an exciting day this is
of you probably know that last November, we had an event called
Leadership Roundtable 2002.
invited about 20 of our distinguished alumni to campus.
talked to them. We listened to them.
told them about our National Commission on the Future of UIS, and
we talked about the future for two hours.
told them what I have said here for the past couple of years:
I believe we can make UIS one of the best small public liberal arts
universities in the region, if not the nation. When I talk about
a wonderful liberal arts university, I also envision a university
with outstanding professional, science and public affairs programs.
I want to be clear about that.
reason I mention the Leadership Roundtable is that those distinguished
alumni truly inspired me. I gained a greater appreciation of our
institutional history - many of them graduated in the 1970s and
1980s -- and they helped me see into our future.
talked with some passion about the faculty who inspired them; some
of those faculty are still with us, thank goodness. And as our alumni
envisioned what UIS will be in 10 years, they talked about the importance
of recruiting more good faculty and great students.
it comes to faculty and students, I think we're on the right track.
We have hired some outstanding new faculty in the past few years,
and I am convinced that these teacher-scholars will build successfully
on the foundation laid by those who created this institution.
I look ahead 10 years, I see high-caliber faculty interacting with
highly motivated students, supported by an incredible staff on a
campus energized by new kinds of student activities, and bubbling
up everywhere will be pockets of excellence.
reason I mention the Roundtable leaders is that they could see something
that perhaps we take for granted. Most of them no longer live in
Springfield, and they reminded us of opportunities we have that
no other university has.
they meant no other university.
do we have?
have Lincoln in our hometown, and we are in the state capital of
one of the most important states in the union. They said: You have
your brand, you have your niche, now build on it.
suggested that we offer all of our students a course on Lincoln's
leadership and legacy. They envisioned that all of our graduates
would be able to say, "I am a more thoughtful person, in fact,
a more well-rounded person, because of the way Lincoln inspired
me when I was a student at UIS. What a great place that was to go
idea captivated them, and me.
I took it to the Campus Senate Steering Committee and the Campus
Senate. Whether we actually develop a course like that and how it
happens is not my concern today. It will take time to work out the
details. I know that.
fact, I hesitated to tell that story at all because you are here
today to do your own dreaming, your own thinking, and above all,
your own visioning.
don't want to give you any answers before you get started.
is not about my vision or my dream. It is our vision, our dream.
I did get excited as the Roundtable leaders were talking. I observed
what happens when a powerful idea emerges.
excites me today is anticipating the power ideas - ideas suggested
by one person, then a few others, and soon enough, it has the imagination
of a whole institution and nobody remembers where it came from.
I think that can happen as the result of your discussions.
brings me to the point of today's program and our visioning process
over the next few months. I want you to know what I expect of the
National Commission on the Future of UIS.
am not here today to get you to see what I see.
is much more important that we all see the same thing at the same
time, and then we go after it together.
want to paraphrase something Henry Ford once said, and I mentioned
it to the Roundtable, too. He said this:
you believe you can do something,
whether you believe you can't do it, you are right.
way, you are right.
you believe we can do it, together, you are right.
you believe we can't do it, together, you are right.
is why I am so pleased today that all of you are here today: external
friends of the university, students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
I feel energized having this gathering of this group of people at
have been here long enough to know what you can do. I am here to
challenge all of us to keep doing what we're doing well, and to
dream, together, of what UIS will be 10 years from now.
see only one risk in doing this, and I can sum up the risk in one
word: cynicism. Let's face facts. These are tough times for public
universities, the toughest times that I have ever seen in my years
in higher ed administration. And President Stukel has said this
is the most difficult period he has witnessed in his 40 years as
a student, faculty member and administrator with the University
of Illinois. That says a lot.
it doesn't say everything. History teaches us that difficult periods
too, shall pass.
the cynics in our midst will suggest that we will not weather this
storm very well. They will talk of doomsday.
you know what? The cynics are wrong.
give the cynics power over the future only if we choose to give
them power. We give the cynics power only if we become one of them.
Cynicism is a choice that we can refuse to make today, tomorrow,
and in the months and years to come.
can choose, instead, to learn from history that a small group of
people, working together, can always be catalysts for progress.
let's agree to take that approach today, to work together for the
future of this institution.
you know that the Illinois State Register, one of Springfield's
local papers back in the 1860s, once called Lincoln "the craftiest
and most dishonest politician that ever disgraced an office in America?"
good new is that Lincoln learned the art of deflecting his critics
and ignoring his cynics. Just before he began his presidency, he
encouraged his followers not to be overwhelmed by their detractors,
saying, "Let us [not] be slandered from our duty by false accusations
against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction. ...
Let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it."
Those are powerful words. Dare to do our duty as we understand it.
Lincoln could rise up against the cynics of his day, during the
most difficult period in American history, so can we. The people
in this room can rise up, and we will.
hold fast to my vision of UIS as one of the best small public liberal
arts universities in the United States. That was my vision when
I interviewed for this job as chancellor more than two years ago
and when I began this job in the spring of 2001, and it is my vision
on this Friday, in late March, in 2003!
are at the crossroads of many new opportunities. That's why the
provost and I asked for the creation of this National Commission
on the Future of UIS. All of us have the idea of where we're going.
But we don't yet know exactly how to get there. There is not yet
a mutual vision that leads us all to a shared goal.
create that vision.
are here today to talk about creating a path of excellence so that
we can all walk together on that same path.
saying that, we want to be very clear about what this national commission
is and what I want you to do. I want to mention, very quickly, eight
points about the work of this commission.
First, this is a not a strategic planning process. It is a visioning
process, which is a lot more fun. In this process, we don't have
to develop detailed plans. We have to think, to dream, to envision
what UIS will be in 10 years.
The major questions are: What will we be and what do we want to
be known for 10 years from now? I have chosen to look ahead 10
years because we can get our hands on that time frame. It's different
and more exciting than saying "What do we generally aspire
to be?" By discussing what could we be known for in 10 years,
we are dreaming, yet being realistic.
Your task today is simple. Speak up in your task force meeting.
Each task force has a senior-level administrator as your convener.
Their role is to facilitate a good discussion, a very good and
open discussion. Some of them have additional information to present
to you, but if they start talking too much, politely interrupt
them. If you feel as if you haven't been heard, raise your hand
and say, "Excuse me, did you hear what I just said?"
We didn't bring this many outstanding people together today to
lecture to you. We brought you here to listen to you - to listen
closely for the power of a great idea.
For this process, we have put together 13 task forces, all dealing
with a different topic. All of you have accepted membership on
one of the task forces. When you get to your task force discussion
groups today, you will consider a series of specific questions.
Your convener will guide you through a simple process so that
all of the task forces are operating in the same manner. Eventually,
at your second meeting later this spring, you will write a one-page
vision statement for your college or area of interest. That might
sound difficult, and in fact, writing one page is more difficult
than babbling for 20 pages. But if I asked you to write 20 pages,
the result would be a campus document that is 20 pages times 13
task forces - or at least 260 pages -- and nobody would read it.
My fifth point, for this visioning process, we have placed very
few boundaries on your discussion. We do expect to grow to 6,000
on-campus students, with 2,000 of them living on campus. We do
expect to expand our programs for freshmen and sophomores. And
we do expect to have adequate resources to do what we need to
do, and we expect that our fundraising efforts will mature in
the next 10 years.
Sixth, when you submit your final vision statements to me in September,
I expect to read 13 exciting visions that will then be forged
into one, with the guidance and perspective of our staff and our
national chair, John Blackburn.
Once we publish a national commission document in October, I will
work with UIS leaders and our important consultative groups such
as the Campus Senate, the colleges, our employee councils, and
the Student Government Association to consider the overall vision
and engage them in a more detailed strategic planning process.
Eighth, and my final point here, I don't know how long it will
take from today until we wrap up this visioning process AND the
strategic planning process to follow. Maybe a year, a year and
a half, two years. But we can't wait two years to move forward.
So your work and your discussions will be part of a dynamic process
- one whose conversations and recommendations will move us along
even before the entire process is completed.
I conclude, I want to be up front about one other fact. We're envisioning
10 years ahead, and not all of us will be here 10 years from now.
That is one reason we brought John Blackburn here as our national
commission chair. How does that connect? you ask.
when John was here in November, he mentioned a book called Good
to Great by Jim Collins. The author starts out by saying that "being
good" is the enemy of being great, because if you settle for
being good, or good enough, you will never step up and become great.
That book examined the characteristics that allowed companies to
move from being good to being great, and it has inspired John Blackburn
in his own position as a corporate CEO.
are different from public universities, true enough, but one concept
that has captured John's fancy is what the book's author calls "Level
5 Leadership." The first four levels of leadership include
people who are capable team players, competent managers and effective
leaders - traits we all admire.
5 leaders have two additional characteristics that put them at a
higher level. First, they have the professional will and the unwavering
determination to produce the best long-term results, no matter how
difficult. They never blame poor results on external factors, other
people or bad luck. They accept responsibility. They have that professional
second characteristic of a Level 5 leader is humility. The ones
who build enduring institutions are not necessarily charismatic.
Instead, they act with quiet determination and channel their ambition
into the institution, not themselves. They credit external factors
and other people - rightfully so, they credit the people around
them - for any successes.
Michael [Cheney] and I wanted to assemble a national commission
like this because only our external friends and our many capable
administrators, staff and students will be responsible for our successes
in the next ten years.
like for this national commission to demonstrate a high degree of
Level 5 leadership, as John does at his company in Bloomington.
To those of you who will be here in 10 years, I want you to look
back and say, "Like Henry Ford, we believed that we could move
from being good to being great, and we were right. We channeled
our energy into making that happen." To those of you who will
move on within the next 10 years, I want you to be able to say that
a part of you lives on at UIS because of the long-range vision you
had in 2003.
all reminds me of what President Kennedy said in his inaugural address
in 1961. He envisioned a new frontier for America, and he spelled
out the sacrifices that would be necessary to explore that new frontier.
He had a bold vision. He raised our sights, yet he said:
of this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it
be finished in the first one thousand days of this administration,
nor perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin."
here at UIS, let us begin. Thanks again for taking part in this
Ed [Wojcicki] will take a few minutes to talk about housekeeping
details for the rest of the day. Thank you very much