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UIS prepares a "Vision for All Seasons"
October 31, 2003
SPRINGFIELD - A visioning process at the University of Illinois at Springfield that began in March came to a conclusion Friday with the release of a report titled "A Vision for All Seasons: Looking Ahead 10 Years."
More than 150 people gathered in UIS' Brookens Auditorium to hear about the report generated by The National Commission on the Future of UIS. The commission was charged with exploring two questions: Where will UIS be in 10 years, and what does UIS aspire to be in 10 years?
"Your visions inspire me. This process inspires me. Reflecting on what we might become in 10 years is so refreshing," UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen told the gathering. "Really great changes occur incrementally anyway, and I ask you to remember that. I think we can see 10 years down the road and realize we are indeed building something special." Ringeisen said a strategic planning process will now begin at UIS that will be informed by the report.
The report included visioning statements created by 13 task forces comprised of more than 80 UIS faculty and staff and more than 100 students, alumni, and friends of UIS. Each task force considered a specific topic and answered the questions as they applied to that topic.
"The results of this process provide a well-defined target for university leaders as they move into the strategic planning process in the near future," said commission chair John Blackburn, chief executive officer for COUNTRY Insurance & Financial Services of Bloomington and a 1979 graduate of UIS.
"As we began the visioning process last March, each task force was challenged with the goal of creating a final product that would be believable enough to be considered achievable, challenging enough to inspire further planning efforts, and forward-looking enough to provoke change. I am happy to report that each one answered the challenge," Blackburn said.
Ringeisen said the task forces described dozens of ways that UIS will move from where it is to where it aspires to be with respect to the university's overall vision of becoming one of the best small public liberal arts universities in the region, if not the nation, with an emphasis on liberal arts and sciences, public affairs, and professional programs.
He noted three broad ways in which many task force members picture UIS 10 years from now: (1) "We will be a regional and national leader, more widely known in this region and in the United States, and UIS will be the 'school of choice' for many students and faculty." (2) "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." (3) "UIS will be 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."
Ringeisen said the trend of UIS being a national leader in providing online courses and online degrees will continue as more faculty and students use the Internet to teach and learn online, and as other critical areas such as Admissions and Campus Relations receive and deliver information the way people want it: electronically.
He spoke of how important Abraham Lincoln is to Springfield and how important he could be for UIS. "I have proposed that every degree-seeking student at UIS take a class on Lincoln and Leadership. It's an intriguing idea to think of every UIS student knowing that in some way, he or she walked where Lincoln walked.
"I know that our public policy center has just endured some trauma in having 'Lincoln' removed from its name. But that won't stop the center from having important Lincoln programs. It doesn't stop UIS from having a wonderful Distinguished Chair of Lincoln Studies, and it will not stop us from embracing Lincoln's legacy throughout our institution - which we shall do!" Ringeisen said. "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."
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