are the remarks of Chancellor Richard D. Ringeisen on November 15,
2002, to alumni at the Leadership Roundtable 2002.
I am looking forward to the conversation we are going to have this
I want to paraphrase something Henry Ford once said:
you believe you can do something,
or whether you believe you cant do it, you are right.
Either way, you are right.
want to tell you what I believe we can do: I believe we can make
UIS one of the best small public universities in the region, if
not the nation, with an emphasis on liberal arts & sciences,
public affairs and professional programs. They all work together.
is my vision. That was my vision when I interviewed for this job
as chancellor almost two years ago, when I accepted this job early
in 2001, and when I began this job in the spring of 2001.
could have foreseen or predicted how our world would change and
how badly the economy would slump in the past eighteen months. Thats
our current reality.
I hold fast to my vision a vision of UIS as a high-quality,
small public institution, a university that students will be eager
to attend and where parents and high school teachers will want to
send the best students.
in these brief remarks, I
will give you my perspective on how UIS is changing,
how it is different from what it was a decade or two ago, when some
of you graduated,
and why our conversation today is so important as we dream about
what UIS will look like ten years from now.
am reminded of what Abraham Lincoln said in 1858 at the Republican
State Convention, in a speech delivered not far from here at the
Old State Capitol:
If we could first know where we are, and whither we are
tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.
lets consider for a few minutes where we are and what we are
tending so that we can better judge what to do next, and how to
First, I want to mention just six ways that we are changing:
the most obvious thing. We have a different name. Many of you
graduated from Sangamon State University, but for more than
seven years now, we have been the University of Illinois at
Springfield, part of the world-class University of Illinois
system, yet still a small public university. Its interesting
that were still in a time of transition.
as a university, we are 32 years old a young adult institution,
you might say, but no longer a new idea for Springfield or Illinois.
We have always placed a premium on quality teaching, and we
still do, but we are now welcoming a new generation of faculty
and administrators. Many of our new faculty are not only excellent
teachers, but also faculty-scholars. That means our students
are benefiting in the classroom from the high-caliber research
of our faculty.
look around. Youre in our first residence hall, which
opened just last fall. Were becoming more residential.
Were building more townhouses just across the street.
Were planning seriously for an outside developer to create
a campustown nearby that will include places like
pizza parlors and music stores that are within walking distance
for students. Were no longer just a commuter campus.
we are, for the first time this year, a four-year institution,
with freshmen and sophomores living in this residence hall.
Our Capital Scholars have the second-highest average ACT scores
of any public university in Illinois except for the U of I at
Urbana campus. These students will forever change the culture
of UIS for the better.
Governor Ryan was here last month to break ground on a new classroom-office
building just outside this building to the east. It will be
a state-of-the-art building with the newest technology. This
building will become the hub of much of our academic life when
it opens in the fall of 2004. It will be our first new building
in 10 years. We are growing.
we are a leader, a national leader, in online education. More
than 10% of our enrollments this fall are in online courses.
Our faculty and students have seized the opportunity to teach
and learn in a new way, and each year we expand our course offerings
and degree opportunities.
are changing, to be sure. But even as we change, we hold onto what
has been wonderful about this university. Its a place where
we have younger students, yes, but its also a place where
older students can complete a degree or get a masters degree.
Its a place where students can come and get a wonderful liberal
arts education, prepare to be teachers, business people, public
servants in state or local government, or just about anything else
they choose to do with their lives. Its a campus that is engaged
in many ways: teachers engaged with students, faculty and students
engaged with the local community, and UIS engaged as an important
institution in this community.
changes so evident, we are at the crossroads of many new opportunities.
why I have asked for the creation of a National Commission on the
Future of UIS.
We have an idea of where were going in the direction
of being that high-quality, small public institution. But we dont
yet know exactly how to get there.
have a lot of creative administrators, faculty and staff forging
ahead, but there is no clear path, no mutual vision, that leads
us all to a shared goal.
brings us to today. You can do today what we cannot do on our own.
You can help us see UIS from the outside, to help us see UIS as
others see it.
this quote from a prominent university administrator:
the beginning of every enterprise we should know, as distinctly
as possible, what we propose to do and the means of doing it.
is what the co-founder of Washington University in St. Louis said
at the first meeting of its Board of Directors in 1854, almost 150
same is true of us today. We should talk about the path of excellence
that we are creating so that we can all walk together on that same
are here today, in this room, for a conversation, the first conversation
of our National Commission on the Future of UIS.
me back up just a little, though, and provide a few more details
about the national commission:
is a not a strategic planning process. It is a visioning process.
In this process, we dont have to develop detailed plans.
We have to think, to dream, to envision what UIS will look like
in 10 years.
have a good idea of where we want to go. The questions are:
How will we be different, and how will we get where we want
are creating thirteen task forces, each on a different topic.
task forces will be diverse and draw upon our alumni, friends
of UIS, faculty, staff and students.
will each consider a series of questions, all related to the
vision of UIS becoming one of the best small public high-quality
universities in the region, if not the nation. For example,
those on the College of Business & Management task force
will ask what that college will look like in 10 years as part
of a small public high-quality university. The Student Life
task force will ask what new programs, services and facilities
will be here in 10 years to serve the student population. The
questions asked of the task forces will be specific, but at
the same time, broad enough for the task forces to help us with
this visioning process, we want to place no parameters on available
resources, but I will ask the task forces to suggest ways to
get the financial resources that we will need to do what we
need to do.
we dream and create a bold vision, I will ask the task forces
not to recommend that we do everything that Harvard, Princeton,
Stanford, UIUC, the University of Chicago and Miami University
of Ohio combined might be able to do. That is the danger of
dreaming big, I guess that we would end up with so many
recommendations that we set ourselves up for failure. But I
am willing to take that risk and risk that friends of
UIS will dare to dream and, at the same time, understand what
a high-quality small public institution might be, and make their
specific process and exact questions that each task force will
consider are still being worked out. A high-level UIS administrator
will facilitate each task force. The facilitators are putting
together the membership of their own task forces, and they will
meet next month to talk in greater detail about their internal
national commission will make its recommendations to me. Then
I will work with UIS leaders and our important consultative
groups such as the Campus Senate, the colleges, divisions and
the Student Government Association to consider the recommendations
and engage in a more detailed strategic planning process.
of this may take two years. But we cant wait two years
to move forward, of course. So the national commission will
be a dynamic process one whose conversations and recommendations
could move us along even before the entire process is completed.
have asked Ed Wojcicki of my staff to coordinate this entire
process, and he will lead your discussion today.
conversation is so important today because your ideas will be
compiled and go to our facilitators even before they assemble
their own task forces for the first time. You will set the tone
today for the work of this commission. Please help us set the
right tone with a bold and doable vision.
basic question is: What do we need to do in the next 10 years
to become what we want to become? I chose 10 years because that
seems to be within our sights, even though we have to acknowledge,
also, that whatever vision we have today will change over time.
So let our vision be a living vision.
I turn it over to Ed, I want to mention that Im fully aware
that were living in very difficult budgetary times. Some would
say thats a reason to postpone this kind of conversation.
I think otherwise. I think thats precisely the reason we need
to envision a future that is brighter than ever.
Ford was exactly right when he said if we believe we can do something,
we are right. I believe UIS can become a great public university
with enthusiastic attention to the liberal arts and sciences, public
affairs and professional programs.
I conclude, I recall what John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural
address. You will probably recall that he envisioned a new frontier
for America and he spelled out what it would take to explore the
new frontier. He had a bold vision. He raised our sights, yet he
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.
let us begin.