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National Commission on the Future of UIS

National Commission on the Future of UIS

National Commission on the Future of UIS

About the Commission

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Cover of Report, "A Vision for All Seasons"Final Report Released

The commission released its final report, A Vision for All Seasons: Looking ahead 10 Years, on October 31, 2003. It was the result of a yearlong visioning process.

Overview: The commission and its work

Overall purpose of the commission

Chancellor Richard D. Ringeisen charged the commission with answering two questions: Where will we be in 10 years? What do we aspire to be in 10 years? He posed those questions in March 2003.

What the commission is and is not

The commission engaged in a decentralized visioning process. It was intended to be a broad-based collaborative effort at dreaming “boldly yet realistically” about what UIS might become 10 years from now. It was intended to be a visioning process that precedes a more formal strategic planning process. This was not a process designed to replace the UIS Vision Statement, approved in 1997. Nor was it a strategic planning process.

It is important to note that while the task forces were encouraged to envision the future, their 13 vision statements were not compiled into one overall vision statement for UIS at this time. That can happen only during the more formal strategic planning process.

Makeup of the commission

The commission’s primary effort consisted of 13 task forces, organized late in 2002. They formally got started in March 2003. Each task force was asked to apply the two general questions to its own college, division, or specific area of interest. Serving on the commissions were 192 people, including more than 40 faculty (nearly 25 percent of all UIS faculty), more than 40 staff, and more than 100 alumni, students and friends of UIS. The commission’s national chairman was Mr. John Blackburn, CEO of COUNTRY Insurance & Financial Services, based in Bloomington. Mr. Blackburn received his master’s from UIS in 1979.

Another component of this visioning process occurred November 15, 2002, when Chancellor Ringeisen talked to 19 distinguished alumni/ae and asked them for their input on a vision of the future of UIS.

The role of each task force – produce a one-page vision statement

Each task force was charged with producing a concise one-page statement that describes where its college, function, department, or area of interest will be in 10 years, and what it aspires to be. The statement should be “realistic but should also include an element of dreaming and stretching beyond where we are now.”

Commission timeline

The chancellor called for the commission in his convocation address in August 2002, launched the commission on March 28, 2003, and compiled the commission’s final report and released it on October 31, 2003.

Assumptions about UIS

The task forces were asked to make a few assumptions as they looked ahead 10 years. One was that the enrollment of students taking classes on the Springfield campus would increase to 6,000. The current enrollment at UIS tops 4,500, about 400 of which are degree-seeking students taking all of their courses online. The 6,000 Springfield-campus students that UIS projects in 10 years do not include online degree-seeking students or students taking courses exclusively at the Peoria Center. Of the 6,000 Springfield students, the number of residential students is expected to increase from the current count of 630 this fall to 2,000 in 10 years.

Outcomes and products of the commission

1. The commission produced a document, A Vision for All Seasons: Looking Ahead 10 Years, which was released October 31, 2003. It includes the task force’s 13 vision statements as well as summaries of those statements.

2. The chancellor formally announced the beginning of a strategic planning process for UIS. He established a representative campus committee that will recommend how best to get started with the strategic planning process. He asked that they use the National Commission’s vision as the starting point for their discussion.

3. The task forces assembled external friends and staff, thereby strengthening relationships between current staff and students and external friends and alumni.

Key points from commission’s Final Report and Chancellor Ringeisen’s remarks

Five general themes gleaned by the chancellor from the report (all direct quotes from his remarks at the closing ceremony on October 31, 2003):

1. “We will be a regional and national leader: Many of you said in your statements that UIS will be more widely known in this region and in the United States, and UIS will be the “school of choice” for many students and faculty. Using slightly different words, I see that UIS will become a nationally recognized regional leader in higher education. That sounds very good to me.”

2. “The second overarching vision involves diversity: Most of you said we will have a more diverse faculty of teacher-scholars and a more diverse student body with all the student life that goes with supporting a vibrant campus. I could tell that diversity was very much on your minds during your deliberations, and I commend you for that.”

3. “The third big area is technology: I know some people were disappointed we did not have a separate technology committee, and maybe we should have. The good news is that all of you see a future in which we’re on the leading edge of technology, as a university should be. So we’ll keep going high-tech in teaching, communicating, and providing safety and services.”

4. “The key word in this fourth issue is online. We are already a national leader in providing online courses and online degrees. That trend will continue as more faculty and students use the Internet to teach and learn online, and as other critical areas like Admissions and Campus Relations receive and deliver information the way people want it: electronically. … [T]he ease of electronic communication will continue to change our lives, and UIS will be on the leading edge of those technological changes.”

5. “The fifth issue came directly from our Leadership Roundtable discussion a year ago. These successful alumni, most of whom no longer live in Springfield, talked about Abraham Lincoln and how important he is to Springfield and how important he could be for UIS.” They suggested “having every degree-seeking student at UIS taking a class on Lincoln and Leadership. … I hope you believe, as I do, that Lincoln will always be instructive for us as we march boldly into the future with malice toward none and charity for all.”

Also see the full text of the 13 task forces' vision statements:

Alumni Relationships
Athletics (Intercollegiate)
Brookens Library & Information Technology
Business & Administrative Support Services
Campus Relations
Center for State Policy and Leadership
College of Business & Management
College of Education & Human Services
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
College of Public Affairs & Administration
Student Affairs
Student Body (e.g., enrollment, size, demographics)

Full Report: A Vision for All Seasons: Looking ahead 10 Years


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Welcome to the website for the National Commission on the Future of UIS!

The purpose of the National Commission on the Future of UIS was to answer these questions:

Where will we be in 10 years?

What do we aspire to be in 10 years?

This was a visioning exercise, which is being followed by a more formal strategic planning exercise beginning in the fall of 2003.