Chancellor Ringeisen's Remarks
November 10, 2005
Thank you for this opportunity to talk to you briefly about UIS and its exciting future.
We are growing and changing in many ways and our vision is clear.
UIS will be a premier, small public university with innovative, high-quality liberal arts and professional programs, on a human scale.
We are growing, especially in the number of full-time students and residential students. More than 50% of our students are fulltime, and more than 800 are living on campus, the most ever. This fall, we enrolled more than 4,500 students (FTE is 3,000), an increase over last year.
As our residential and campus life grows, we are preparing to become a four-year university in the fullest sense of the word when we expand our freshmen Capital Scholars next fall. About 180 freshmen will be admitted to our new general education curriculum and about 100 to our Capital Scholars Honors Program, a total of about 300 freshmen. That's an exciting prospect and one that keeps us watching the average age of our students drop, to about 32 right now.
At the same time, online programming is growing by leaps and bounds. One out of every six of our students is an online degree program major (we have 10 degree programs fully online) and one out of three is taking at least one online class.
As I mentioned, campus life is experiencing a great surge thanks to the energy and vitality of younger students and many of our older students as well. Just in the last four years, we have added a theatre program, a dance team, many music groups, a forensics team, more exhibits in the Visual Arts Gallery, and we now have seven Prairie Stars varsity sports! And that's just a sample.
Our growth is also evident in the physical development of the campus - University Hall, new townhouses, a new recreation a d fitness center in our near future, as well as a new residence hall. And the appearance of our campus has really been dressed up by the elegant colonnade and fountain.
We have just finished creating a new strategic plan that will ensure that we attain our lofty vision.
During my Convocation address to the university community in August, I said: "This is your time because you provide the spirit and the energy to move this university forward and implement our collective vision. Our visibility is rising and our stature is rising."
There is no ordinary strategic plan and ours is no exception. Listen to our Statement of Strategic Intent: "UIS will be one of the top five small public liberal arts universities in the United States."
This institution will take the steps necessary to get onto the "top-school" lists and then to climb into the top five.
Here are some things that explain why we have the audacity to say that today:
UIS has a young but highly credentialed faculty coupled with many high quality academic degree programs - programs that attract students who are interested in student-focused learning, small classes, and individual attention from professors.
We have excellent programs such as history, accountancy, management information systems, business administration, educational leadership, and public affairs reporting, all of which are able to attract high quality students.
To give you an idea of the rising stature of our graduate programs, biology student Tracy DiMezzo (who has since graduated) brought honor to UIS when she received a distinguished thesis award from the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools. She was one of three to be so recognized. The other two were from the Miami University of Ohio and the University of Cincinnati.
The UIS online Computer Science Program was rated fourth in a national survey of the "Top 20 best buys" in higher education. Fourth in the nation.
Accountancy graduates rank well above the national norm in first-time pass rates for the national CPA exam. Among the best rates in the nation.
UIS is taking a lead role in one of the largest flood plain restoration projects in the world - the Emiquon Preserve near Havana, Illinois. Led by UIS Biology professor Mike Lemke, we are establishing a field station there for students and faculty to engage in hands-on research.
UIS received federal funding to establish an online mathematics teacher certification program in order to address the shortage of math teachers in the state.
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. The university has an entreNET partnership with the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce to streamline the delivery of services to entrepreneurs.
UIS has embraced the idea and practice of enhanced learning technology and is on the cutting edge of academic technological innovation.
Our university is completely wireless, the first in Illinois
University Hall has brought UIS into the 21st Century with its sophisticated learning technology in classroom and lecture halls.
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 state and national limelight with regard to online degree programming. We now offer 10 degree programs fully online.
In fact, UIS is positioned to help move the entire U of I forward in terms of online education.
Sound like an audacious statement? We believe that it is not!
UIS is poised to build on its foundation of public affairs and tradition of blending real-world opportunities with academic offerings.
That statement is evident in the internships that we offer at the undergraduate level. It's called the Applied Study Term and most of the internships are paid.
It's evident in the 131 graduate students who have internships at 18 state agencies, thanks to the Graduate Public Service Internship Program. By the way, 131 is a record.
UIS' Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program remains the premier graduate-level program of its kind in the country.
Nationally, the growth of programs such as Campus Compact and the American Democracy Project are signs that civic engagement, citizenship and community service are re-emerging as critically important at colleges and universities. UIS is ahead of the curve with its history of serving non-traditional students and practice of providing students with service learning and volunteerism opportunities.
UIS' Center for State Policy and Leadership keeps the focus on public affairs by engaging in citizen education, addressing issues of state and national public policy, and contributing to the dialogue on matters of significant public concern such as politics and religion, issues in cyberspace, and the role of the Supreme Court.
The two guiding principles of our new general education curriculum -- engaged citizenship and lifelong learning -- clearly illustrate that this institution plans to continue building on its traditions. In that sense, our past is joined to our future.
I could go on, as I often do, about how far this university has come in the last few years and how brilliant our future is. Suffice it to say, I hope you have gotten a strong sense of our pride and our determination to make UIS the very best it can be.