UIS LogoChancellor Ringeisen's Remarks
Volunteer Leadership Forum

October 20 , 2006


A Star Rising

Good morning, distinguished alumni, friends, colleagues and guests.   Good morning, and welcome-welcome to the University of Illinois at Springfield Volunteer Leadership Forum. 

I'd like to talk with you this morning about UIS being a star, about being a leader, because that is the destiny of the University of Illinois at Springfield.

What began 36 years ago as Sangamon State University, what today is the University of Illinois at Springfield, is definitely a star rising.  You may be wondering how I can make such an assertion, just what I'm basing this statement on.

My belief in the star power of UIS is sparked by things like last summer's Chicago Tribune article that called us the University of the Future.  And our Admissions staff is telling us that while recruiting in the Chicago area, they are finally hearing people say, Oh yes, we've heard about UIS and heard things about UIS.  That's a major breakthrough for us.

Beyond internal or external recognition, though, my belief in UIS is ultimately based on what I see everyday on this campus.

So, I'd like to share what I see at UIS - what I see in UIS.

To be a star, you must dream boldly, creating a vision based on creativity and intellectual drive.  Our vision at UIS is the deepest expression of what we want to be, our preferred future, an image of how we can best serve our cause.  Just what is our vision?  "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." 

Yes, that's our vision, but we take it a step further.  Besides our vision, our statement of strategic intent says that we intend to be one of the top five small public liberal arts universities in the nation.  That is bold, isn't it?  And now we have people all over campus coming to us and saying - if you really want to be in the top 5, you need to support us more.  And they're right - and I'm thrilled that people are catching on to the "top five" idea.

As we implement our plan, we recognize that leading universities have passion for a cause that is larger than they are - a dream and a vision that will make society better.  That is why we declare UIS will make a difference in the world.  It's the third of our three major goals.  To make a difference in the world.

Our graduates, our students, our faculty and staff are prepared to lead, to contribute to society, to nurture their communities.  

Another key element of leadership is the ability to see new things:  leaders must consistently demonstrate innovation and insight...insight that inspires others to action, innovation that improves life for all.  Take a look at our past five years, and you'll see innovation, you'll see transformation.

Just a few highlights show UIS making a difference in the world:

  • UIS is a recognized leader in online education and technology.  Our University campus is completely wireless, the first in Illinois.  Ray Schroeder, Director of UIS' Office of Technology Enhanced Learning, is one of the nation's leading experts on online education. He has brought UIS into the national limelight with regard to online degree programming.

  • UIS is taking a lead role in one of the largest flood plain restoration projects in the world-the Emiquon Preserve in Havana, Illinois, a huge project on the Illinois River that is expected to have worldwide implications for river projects on the Amazon and in China.

  • Shining stars! When it comes to our students, no other phrase is as fitting.  Just a couple of examples, though there are many more...UIS Accountancy graduates rank near the top in first-time pass rates for the national CPA exam.  And, the College of Education and Human Services has a 100% pass rate for Teacher Education candidates on state exams. 

  • Our College of Business and Management houses the new Center for Entrepreneurship so that UIS can be of greater service in the economic development of Springfield and the region.  And we are one of the leadership investors in a brand new Springfield Chamber of Commerce initiative about economic development, a multimillion dollar community investment that has the bold goal of creating 4,500 jobs in the greater Springfield area.

  • UIS' Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program remains the premier graduate-level program of its kind in the nation - placing graduate-level interns on all four legislative leadership staffs in the state Capitol every year.  We are well-positioned to build on our tradition of blending real-world opportunities with academic offerings.  That is evident in the 149 graduate students who have internships at 14 state agencies this fall, thanks to the Graduate Public Service Internship Program. By the way, 149 is a record.

  • Within the College of Public Affairs and Administration is the nationally renowned and highly selective graduate program in Public Affairs Reporting under the direction of Charles Wheeler.  Wheeler and political scientists Kent Redfield and Chris Mooney - all at UIS - are three of the most-quoted sources in the state on the subject of Illinois government and politics.  Here's a fact that isn't known widely enough:  Two months ago Professor Wheeler was inducted into the Lincoln League of  Journalists of the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association.  He became only the seventh member of the league, which was created in 2000 to honor "men and women who have provided exemplary service to other journalists and to daily newspapers published in Illinois."

  • UIS has significantly increased its share of grant funding to further our teaching and research efforts.  For example, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a recipient of Merck grants for undergraduate research in sciences. LAS is also a co-recipient of a National Science Foundation grant for Center for the System Security and Information Assurance (CSSIA).  The College has also received a major National Science Foundation grant for archaeological research in Germany, including student internship opportunities.

  • Online programs in the College of Education and Human Services are rated among the top 5 in the nation by the Wall Street Journal as of May 2006.  And, the college's online math certification program is helping to alleviate the shortage of math teachers in the state of Illinois.

  • Our Center for State Policy and Leadership, in addition to all its service to state government, is creating an exciting intellectual climate on campus with its forums, summits and lecture series, featuring nationally and internationally respected speakers.

  • There is clear evidence that UIS is doing athletics the right way.  More than half of our student-athletes have been named to our Director of Athletics' Honor Roll.  The men's basketball team led the American Midwest Conference this past season with nine players named to the Academic All-Conference Team.  And our women's volleyball team was among 287 teams at schools throughout the nation that earned an American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for the 2005-06 season.

  • The fine arts at UIS are growing exponentially.  For example, we are now one of four major art venues in the city of Springfield.  And, Sangamon Auditorium is one of central Illinois' finest performing arts facilities, presenting more than 60 performances per year and hosting numerous other events as well.  And we now have a building appropriately named the Visual and Performing Arts Building - you knew it as Building G, maybe - as a sign of our commitment to the fine arts.

  • Let me tell you something else you probably didn't know.  Our library, Brookens Library, has a larger collection than most of its peers - meaning small private colleges in Illinois and public liberal arts universities throughout the United States.  With 540,000 volumes and many online sources, the greatness of Brookens Library has been, until today, too much of a secret.  So in the years to come, we will do a lot more bragging about the resource we have in Brookens Library.

  • Leading universities create a sense of place and offer first-rate facilities.  The UIS campus has undergone a physical transformation in order to create its own sense of place. University  Hall, one of the most technologically-sophisticated classroom buildings in the state, is first-rate, as is the state-of-the-art Lincoln Residence Hall.  We are now watching our new recreation and athletic center take shape, and very soon construction will begin on more townhouses, where students will enjoy living in style and comfort, as they do now in the existing townhouses.  Then we'll break ground for our second residence hall, which will feature many of the conveniences that our students have come to expect.

That's the short list.

I could go on, as I often do, about how far UIS has come in the last few years and how brilliant our future is.  I hope that you have gotten a strong sense of our pride and our determination to make UIS the very best it can be.

First, though, maybe, I can share the stars with you.

Without a doubt, our future will be brighter than ever.

UIS is going to reach beyond what appear to some people as limitations, but we know they are not limitations.  They are only more stars beyond the ones we have already discovered.

This is our time.

This is also your time, because you help provide the spirit and the energy to move UIS forward and implement our collective vision.  Please know that your individual efforts, your "can-do" spirit and your financial support, are all deeply appreciated.

We want, and need to involve you in the process for defining and implementing the bold future envisioned for UIS.  With dedicated, unified commitment, at the conclusion of this Campaign, I believe each of us will be able to say, 'I helped to build the best possible future for higher education in this region.'

What dream, what goal could possibly be better?  At UIS, you're in on the ground floor; we'll emerge as stars together.

In closing, I offer my sincere thanks for all of your hard work on behalf of UIS, and for your strong, engaged support of our advancement work.  In gatherings such as this, we are shaping a bright, bright future for the University of Illinois at Springfield.

The stars are rising, and in 10 years, it will be much, much brighter.

Thank you.