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UIS chancellor describes bold plan for future of university

March 20, 2006

SPRINGFIELD – Chancellor Richard Ringeisen announced today that the University of Illinois at Springfield will pursue a bold vision: to become one of the top five small public liberal arts universities in the United States.

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In describing the plan of action to a group of students gathered in Lincoln Residence Hall, Ringeisen said the vision will be achieved by “creating a world-class liberal arts-oriented undergraduate educational experience reflecting many of the characteristics and best practices of small private liberal arts colleges, while building on our many strengths.”

“The plan, which will carry UIS forward with great energy for the next five to ten years,” contains six goals, Ringeisen said.  They are Academic Excellence, Enriching Individual Lives, Making a Difference in the World, Strengthening Campus Culture, Enrollment and Retention, and Resources and Infrastructure.

Those goals form the foundation of a new strategic plan that was completed in January after more than a year of intense effort by UIS faculty, staff and students.  This is the first comprehensive strategic plan since 1992, when the university was still known as Sangamon State University.

“UIS will achieve academic excellence through excellence in teaching and learning and excellence in scholarship and will seek to establish an atmosphere that contributes to the intellectual, cultural, social, and personal enrichment of all its participants,” Ringeisen said. “With its location in the state capital, UIS has always had a special emphasis on public affairs, citizen engagement, and effecting societal change. Those traditions will be carried forward and updated through the theme of ‘Making a Difference in the World’,” he said.

He said selected initiatives will include expansion of support for faculty and student scholarship; an Experiential and Service Learning Institute; focus on lifelong learning and engagement in the general curriculum; and establishment of high-visibility collaborative projects such as the Emiquon Field Station located near Havana.

In regard to making a difference in the world, Ringeisen said plans include an Engaged Citizenship Common Experience as part of the general education curriculum; entrepreneurial activities in the College of Business and Management; faculty involvement in policy development in Illinois; the Illinois Democracy Project; international collaborations; and more bridges to the nonprofit sector in central Illinois.

Ringeisen said that an Annual Campus Dialogue will be established and a comprehensive master plan for the arts will be developed to strengthen campus culture. “More bridges to the community with civic engagement and volunteer and service learning opportunities will also take place as well as enhancement of intercollegiate athletics,” he said.

He emphasized that by improving access and opportunity, UIS will enroll, retain, and graduate a larger and more diverse student body engaged in classroom and technology-enhanced education.  “UIS plans to grow to 6,000 on-campus students and will always be a ‘small university’ in the best sense of the word,” he said.  Selected initiatives include a one-stop enrollment services model that includes the entire array of student enrollment services; assertive programs to help students make the transition from high school or community college to the university; and a Center for First-Year Programs.

A Competitive Edge

Ringeisen said the competitive analysis with other public and private colleges and universities indicates that UIS has some of the most prized attributes of private colleges – small class sizes, high-quality programs, most courses taught by faculty with terminal degrees, personalized interaction between faculty and students, and hands-on, experiential learning.

“Our students say, ‘My professors know me.’  Classes and faculty are accessible when students want them – daytime, evenings, and online.  As a high-quality small public university, UIS is far more affordable than the private institutions,” Ringeisen said. “Moreover, no other university or college has the advantage of being located in the vibrant Illinois state capital.”

In short, he said UIS compares favorably in terms of quality, personal attention, affordability, and location.

The UIS strategic plan may be viewed in its entirety at www.uis.edu/strategicplan.

    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.
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