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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. We have been part of the University of Illinois for 10 years, and it is time for fresh planning, new thinking, and “Stretch Ideas” to move us well beyond what we have been and to lead us well into this century.
The University of Illinois at Springfield provides an intellectually rich, collaborative, and intimate learning environment for students, faculty, and staff, while serving local, regional, state, national, and international communities.
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.
Statement of Strategic Intent
UIS will be recognized as one of the top five small public liberal arts universities in the United States.
We will achieve this 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. Among those strengths are professional academic programs, graduate education, and public affairs activities.
Competitive Analysis/Distinctive Competencies
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. Moreover, no other university or college has the advantage of being located in the vibrant Illinois state capital. In short, we compare favorably in terms of quality, personal attention, affordability, and location.
Six Strategic Goals for UIS
The first three goals are considered our primary goals: Academic Excellence, Enriching Individual Lives, and Making a Difference in the World. The final three, dealing with the UIS culture, enrollment and retention, and resources – will assist in the achievement of our vision and the implementation of our goals.
Goal #1: Academic Excellence
- UIS will achieve academic excellence through excellence in teaching and learning and excellence in scholarship.
- At UIS, teaching remains the central function and student learning is our overriding goal. UIS will create an environment that promotes engaged, active, and interdisciplinary learning with the ultimate goal of preparing students to be thinkers and leaders in the world. UIS affirms its commitment to high standards of scholarly excellence. Believing that active scholarship is essential to excellent teaching, UIS is committed to developing a faculty of teacher-scholars, students who collaborate with faculty on research and service projects, and staff who are engaged in advancing the professional practice in their fields. UIS is in the process of enhancing its undergraduate curriculum while maintaining an emphasis on providing excellent graduate programs. It is unique by reaching out aggressively to new, younger undergraduate students even as it continues to reach out to non-traditional students with on-campus and an increasing number of online programs.
- Selected initiatives: Expansion of support for faculty and student scholarship; Experiential and Service Learning Institute; focus on lifelong learning and engagement in general curriculum; establishment of high-visibility collaborative projects such as the Emiquon Field Station.
Goal #2: Enriching Individual Lives
- The University of Illinois at Springfield seeks to establish an atmosphere that contributes to the intellectual, cultural, social, and personal enrichment of all its participants.
- This document offers many ways to provide an intellectually rich and culturally diverse campus environment, including expansion of arts facilities and programs. All will be exposed to a campus community that is infused with an appreciation of diverse cultural perspectives. The campus environment will be an inclusive and safe place for different perspectives to be explored.
- Selected initiatives: Annual Campus Dialogue; development of comprehensive master plan for the arts, including a new bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts; more bridges to the community with civic engagement and volunteer and service learning opportunities; enhancement of intercollegiate athletics.
Goal #3: Making a Difference in the World
- With its location in the state capital, UIS has always had a special emphasis on public affairs, citizen engagement, and effecting societal change. This goal echoes and updates those traditions through the theme of Making a Difference in the World. This theme is conceptualized as a series of activities related to reflection, dialogue, and action on public policy and civic culture, resulting in engagement with the world outside the university. The focus includes local, state, national, and global concerns. All undergraduates will participate in engagement activities; graduate students will continue to have numerous opportunities for hands-on learning and research. The campus will continue to build on its solid record of accomplishment in public affairs, applied research, and training activities – paying special attention to public policy and the civic culture.
- Faculty, staff, students, and alumni from every part of UIS engage in activities that make a difference in the world. Each individual and discipline provides a unique contribution: education, business, professional programs, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. In other words, Making a Difference in the World is a shared responsibility.
- Selected initiatives: Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE) as part of the general education curriculum; entrepreneurial activities in the College of Business and Management; faculty involvement in policy development in Illinois; Illinois Democracy Project; international collaborations; more bridges to the nonprofit sector in central Illinois.
Goal #4: Strengthen Campus Culture
- Efforts will increase significantly to make UIS staff, faculty, students, alumni, and friends aware of the university’s identity and direction. UIS will be known for its high level of responsiveness to students and as an institution where respect and civility prevail in all interactions. Tolerance for a diversity of opinions will be a hallmark of the UIS culture.
- Selected initiatives: Focus on civility in all interactions; Campus Welcome Committee as part of orientation process; focus on personalized customer service for students, faculty, staff, and visitors; environmental sustainability and preservation in all plans to enhance the physical environment.
Goal #5: Enrollment and Retention
- By improving access and opportunity, the University of Illinois at Springfield 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.
- Selected initiatives: 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; Center for First-Year Programs.
Goal #6: Resources and Infrastructure
- UIS has lofty goals and an inspiring vision. Many of the action steps to pursue our vision require the allocation of new resources and the reallocation of current resources – financial, human, and physical. UIS will make bold decisions and will find the resources to implement the goals in this strategic plan. This plan not only allows us to focus more specifically on what UIS wants to become but also gives us a framework within which to allocate and reallocate resources.
This plan identifies many specific needs, including physical enhancements: more internal and external gathering spaces (sometimes called “third spaces”), a Student Center, another residence hall, more laboratory facilities, and a renovation of Brookens Library and the metal buildings. The plan also highlights the need to find more extracurricular opportunities for students, to create a comprehensive plan for cultural and arts activities, and to address salary equity issues and salary competitiveness for staff and faculty. We estimate needs of $4.351 million in annually recurring funds and $95,000 in onetime, nonrecurring funds over the next five years to implement our goals. We have also identified a need for $89 million in capital funds for some of the initiatives in this strategic plan and for buildings identified in the campus master plan of 2000.
This plan sets UIS in pursuit of a bold vision: to become one of the top five small public liberal arts universities in the U.S.
This has exciting implications for students, faculty, staff, and the community we serve. Students will benefit from the personalized attention, small classes, and high-quality programs. Faculty will benefit from the unique emphasis that UIS places on teaching and expanding opportunities for scholarship and service. UIS, the high-quality liberal arts university in Springfield, will offer high-quality professional and public affairs programs. And the local community, the nation, and indeed the world will be visibly and recognizably enhanced by the expertise and outreach of the UIS community.