UIS is in a time of transition.
We are ready for this strategic plan, and it is important that we set the context within which we are crafting it.
Since our merger with the University of Illinois in 1995, we have been in a near-continuous time of transition. We have been stretching ourselves in many ways and have begun implementing major initiatives in recent years.
In 2001 we added the Capital Scholars program, and last year the Board of Trustees approved a plan that will allow for a significant expansion of the freshman class in the fall of 2006.
We also have added 10 complete online degree programs in the past five years; the future of that delivery method remains bright but uncertain as many other universities are reaching out with online educational programs. This is the context within which we deliberated a new strategic plan.
This is the first comprehensive strategic plan for the University of Illinois at Springfield since 1992, when we were still known as Sangamon State University. Our Mission Statement was 13 years old, and our existing Vision Statement was promulgated in 1996. We have been part of the University of Illinois for 10 years, and it is time for fresh planning, new thinking, even “Stretch Ideas” to lead us well into this century.
But first, it is worth noting that in the past 10 years, UIS has convened university leaders (faculty, staff, students, and external partners) three times to plan for our future in a collegial way. It is worth reviewing briefly the context of those efforts, as well as the 1992 strategic planning effort. (Appendix A lists the major planning documents in the history of SSU and UIS. All are available on the UIS web site.)
Strategic Planning, Mission Statement, and the Final Document, Toward 2000.
In 1990, following a directive to all Board of Regents universities, SSU named its first Strategic Planning Task Force and developed its first strategic plan. The strategic planning process spanned 15 months, involving both internal and external constituencies, and focused on the mission of SSU as well as the internal and external forces that could shape its future. Through a series of focus groups and workshops, faculty and staff were asked to assess the institution’s strengths and weaknesses. Community members, serving on artistic, cultural, education, minority, private sector, and public sector advisory groups, assessed how well SSU had met the community’s past needs and expectations and identified how it could more effectively interact with its immediate environment in the future. Four environmental scanning groups – economic/technical, educational/competitive, political/legal, and social/demographic – considered the potential impact of external influences on future operations. Finally, faculty, staff, and students completed an Institutional Goals Inventory, which provided an assessment of attitudes and values.
A new strategic plan for SSU was presented in March of 1992 in a report titled Toward 2000: A Strategic Plan for Sangamon State University. The mission statement from the plan identified excellence in teaching as the primary mission of SSU. Public affairs was praised as an institutional strength, and the report endorsed “movement over the past half-decade toward self-identification as a university with a public affairs emphasis rather than as a public affairs university” and encouraged SSU to use public affairs as a unifying theme. The report also praised “recent efforts to integrate liberal and professional studies in its baccalaureate offerings.”
The strategic plan adopted in 1992 listed several goals that represented the highest priorities for institutional attention and action during the 1990s:
- Enhancement of teaching, advising, and scholarship as well as lifelong learning
- Strengthening the intellectual and cultural climate
- Improving the university’s image
- Enrollment management and retention effort
- Pursuit of partnerships with external entities
- Identification of targeted facility and equipment needs
- Pursuit of supplemental external funding
Development Planning Committee and UIS Vision Statement.
We became the third campus of the University of Illinois in 1995 and embarked on a major planning initiative. A committee of UIS representatives became the Development Planning Committee, which was charged with reviewing academic planning in the changed context of its position as a part of the UI system. Anticipating that the institutional planning conducted by the Strategic Planning Task Force in Toward 2000 remained relevant, this strategic planning effort focused primarily on the academic vision and principal foci for UIS.
The Development Planning Committee created a vision statement and reaffirmed earlier recommendations to initiate a full four-year undergraduate program and to develop a doctorate in public affairs. The final report from the committee included analyses and recommendations relating to program strengthening, academic organization, off-campus programs, and academic support, public service, and research.
The new UIS Vision Statement (approved in 1996) affirmed that the UIS of the future would retain teaching as the central function and excellence in teaching as the overriding goal, serving students from the first year of college through completion of the baccalaureate degree. Professional education would continue to be a major feature of UIS’ curricular commitments with the principal determinants of graduate program offerings being quality and distinction. In addition, public affairs would continue as not only a unifying theme of teaching, scholarship, and service but in the future UIS’ commitment to public affairs would be understood as the campus’s “distinctive contribution to the land-grant mission of the University of Illinois.” Finally, enrollment growth should be modest and controlled, drawing more students from outside central Illinois, and serving a larger proportion of full-time undergraduate and graduate students. The UIS of the future was envisioned to be a place where lively extracurricular intellectual, social, and cultural life would be recognized and supported as critical to students’ learning experiences.
Campus Master Plan.
In 2000, anticipating that campus facilities would need to expand, a new master plan for UIS was developed to guide the long-range use and development of the campus. Expansion was anticipated based on three reasons: (1) an existing space deficit of approximately 53,000 assignable square feet, (2) the considerable amount of academic and athletic space located in temporary metal buildings, and (3) anticipated growth in student enrollments requiring a significant increase in the existing permanent academic facilities.
It was also recognized that a growing residential student population would require an increase in parking facilities, athletic fields, tennis courts, and student residences. Infrastructure organization, including the use of open spaces, was an important consideration. The master plan recommended that new academic expansion (buildings) be located immediately south of the Public Affairs Center, Brookens Library, and the Health Sciences Building, with a new two-story Student Center developed between Brookens Library and the Public Affairs Center. Indeed, UIS secured state funding for a new classroom/office building, which opened as University Hall in the fall of 2004.
The master plan recommended new recreation facilities south of the new academic core, and new residential facilities west of the academic core, with residence halls for first-year students and sophomores located closest to the academic core. Implementation of this plan continues. Lincoln Residence Hall opened for freshmen and sophomores in the fall of 2001, additional town homes opened in 2003 and 2004, and students approved a referendum that will lead to the construction of our Recreation Center. The Recreation Center has received Board of Trustees’ approval and is in the design stages. Groundbreaking is anticipated in 2006.
National Commission on the Future of UIS
In 2003, nearly 200 people from the University of Illinois at Springfield and the external community participated in the National Commission on the Future of UIS. That commission issued its final report, A Vision for All Seasons, in October 2003. It included 13 vision statements, one from each of the commission’s task forces, but did not attempt to combine them into a single vision for UIS. The task forces and the commission primarily responded to two questions: “Where will we be in 10 years?” and “What do we aspire to be in 10 years?”
The commission’s work was intended to – and in fact did – lead to the beginning of a formal strategic planning process late in 2003. Chancellor Richard Ringeisen asked several senior administrators and the chair of the Campus Senate to begin deliberating the best approach to produce a new strategic plan. It quickly became apparent that UIS needed to rewrite its mission and vision statements with a special focus on strategic goals. In September 2004, Chancellor Ringeisen announced the creation of a 23-member Strategic Planning Committee, representing students, faculty, academic professionals, civil service employees, and administrators. The planning process at UIS began moving forward.
The committee began the important task of crafting a strategic plan. Then early in 2005, B. Joseph White became the 16th president of the University of Illinois and announced that the university, its central administration, and all three campuses (Chicago, Springfield, and Urbana-Champaign) would work simultaneously on new strategic plans. These strategic plans would be consistent with the president’s strategic plan for the university. Fortunately for UIS, the president’s format and process closely resembled the one that UIS was already using. With some modifications to be in accord with the University of Illinois’ format and timetable, the UIS Strategic Planning Committee continued its work throughout 2005.
The SPC completed a draft strategic plan in October 2005 and received feedback from committee members, the Campus Senate, the UIS community, and a specially appointed Peer Review Team consisting of respected Springfield leaders. The feedback and fine-tuning process continued in the last two months of 2005.
The result is this document, Creating a Brilliant Future, a new strategic plan for UIS.