End-of-year Message, May 2018

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

As the Spring, 2018 semester comes to a close, I am so proud of the many milestones and achievements we’ve created together at UIS this year. It’s in that spirit that I extend my sincere gratitude to all in our community who have not only pursued and achieved their personal goals, but who have also contributed in so many ways to the mission and vision of our University. Thank you.

Special recognition is due for campus leaders who have devoted their time and talent to ensure our university’s success — Campus Senate Chair Professor Ranjan Karri, APAC Chair Clayton Bellot, CSAC co-chairs Jo Barnard and Jeff Sudduth and SGA President Garrett Nimmo. These individuals are true servant leaders, giving of themselves to help our campus community thrive, and I offer my sincere appreciation.

Over the past several weeks, we have celebrated the contributions of several exceptional members of our community.

Faculty honors awarded this year:

  • Dr. Benjamin Walsh (Management) — University Scholar
  • Dr. Holly Kent (History) — Pearson Award for Outstanding Teaching
  • Dr. Ranjan Karri (Management) — Spencer Award for Exemplary Service
  • Dr. Lan Dong (English and Modern Languages) — Award for Faculty Excellence
  • Dr. Layne Morsch (Chemistry) — Burks Oakley II Distinguished Award for Online Teaching
  • Dr. Yona Stamatis (Music) — inaugural Harry and Deborah Berman Sabbatical Award

Staff leadership awards including:

  • James Koeppe, Director of Campus Recreation — CAPE Award for Outstanding Performance by an Academic Professional
  • Krystal Wilson, Catering Supervisor — CARE Award for Excellence in Civil Service
  • Jason Gibson, Building Service Supervisor — UIS Employee of the Year

Outstanding student leaders and organizations have also earned recognition this year including:

  • Hannah Warden, Good As Gold Award for outstanding volunteerism
  • Rosie Dawoud, SGA Outstanding Committee Person of the Year
  • University Bible Fellowship, Student Organization of the Year

Congratulations to these talented individuals who embody “Leadership lived” and who inspire us to contribute to the best of our abilities every day to the mission of our University.

Of course, one of our most exciting moments this academic year was the January opening of the new Student Union (now known as “THE STU”). Cutting the ribbon on this remarkable facility will forever be a highlight in the history of the UIS campus. The Student Union not only changed the physical footprint of the campus, but more importantly it is transforming campus life.

I think I’m most proud that, during the design phase, students led the way for this project to be a sustainable building. There are 196,000 plants on the green roof, contributing to energy savings and enhanced storm water management. More than 20% of the building is constructed with recycled materials, and a majority of the building materials were regionally sourced – extracted, harvested, recovered and manufactured within 500 miles of Springfield. We anticipate achieving LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in the coming year.

I remain so grateful to the many individuals who made this vision a reality. In this spring semester alone, the Student Union has served more than 50,000 visitors and hosted more than 200 programs and meetings. I am so pleased to see how this facility is helping our students more easily form those crucial connections that make campus life meaningful – and fun!

And there’s another addition to our campus that lets us say for the first time: “UIS is on the lake!” We’ve been fortunate to acquire this year a former lake club on nearby Lake Springfield just a few minutes’ walk from campus. This new resource—including a 3,000-square-foot building, more than 400 feet of lakeshore and a dock system—has been named the UIS Field Station at Lake Springfield. With the leadership of Dr. Tom Rothfus, Director of Emiquon, the Field Station will serve as a multipurpose educational, research and recreational facility. Plans for facility improvements are now underway, but faculty in Environmental Science and Biology are already using the Field Station, and several classes are scheduled there for Fall, 2018. I’ve even heard there may be a collegiate bass fishing team in our future.

Speaking of milestones, it’s been so enjoyable to watch our student-athletes achieve a historically successful year. Both men’s and women’s Soccer earned first-time berths in their conference tournaments, as did women’s Volleyball. Women’s Tennis qualified for the conference tourney for the second season in a row, while the new Cross Country and Track programs continued to grow. Men’s Golf won two major tournaments this Spring, and Women’s Golf qualified again for the NCAA Super Regional Tournament this week. UIS Baseball is ranked No.4 in the nation in Division II and is competing in the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament as the No. 1 seed this week. Women’s Softball, whose coach Shannon Guthrie was named GLVC Softball Coach of the Year last week, is also nationally ranked and will host the NCAA Midwest Division Softball Championship this week as the No. 2 seed. The women play Saginaw Valley State at 1:30 PM Thursday on their home field at Land of Lincoln Softball Complex.

What a thrill it has been to cheer on all of our student-athletes who have proven their talents both on the field and in the classroom. My sincere congratulations to them and all the coaches, faculty and staff who have supported their success this year.

Though certainly not an exhaustive list, here are some additional highlights from this past year:

  • Growth in visibility, reputation and enrollment has been a high priority for several years, and current marketing and recruitment efforts are paying off with the number of freshman, transfer and graduate applications all having increased for Fall 2018. As of this week, 52 more new, first-year students had committed to UIS than at this same time last year.
  • The Division of Academic Affairs has successfully filled the new Associate Provost for Enrollment Management position. Natalie Herring will assume the role June 15 and provide leadership in developing and executing strategic enrollment planning as well as leadership for the offices of Admissions, Financial Aid and the Registrar. Enrollment Management will be transitioned from the Division of Student Affairs to the Division of Academic Affairs on July 1.
  • Talent acquisition and retention efforts for faculty and staff are going well, with several new tenure-track hires coming on board and several important searches moving forward in Student Affairs. We were delighted to celebrate last week with eight faculty who have earned tenure and promotion to associate professor rank and one who has been promoted to full professor.
  • Last fall, we initiated a planning process to develop a Strategic Compass which will help us reaffirm and revitalize our mission, vision, values and goals to guide us over the next several years. With further discussion and consultation, we will finalize the new Strategic Compass next Fall.
  • Fifteen employees took part in the inaugural Rising Stars program, a campus orientation program intended to build a stronger sense of community for new employees. Participants met monthly over an eight-month period to learn about the history of our University and about key campus resources and initiatives. Teambuilding and service opportunities were also woven into the program to create a rich, meaningful experience for participants during their first year of UIS employment.
  • With the leadership of professor Stephen Johnson, UIS offered its first on-campus dual credit class for high school students this year. Eighteen seniors from Sacred Heart-Griffin High School participated in the pilot course, General, Organic and Biochemistry. We hope to build upon this innovative recruitment tool in the future.
  • In October, UIS launched its most ambitious fundraising campaign in our history. “Reaching Stellar” seeks to raise $40 million to benefit students, faculty and the University. Already, more than $20.5 million of our goal has been realized, making this one of our best fundraising years ever. The campaign continues through 2022.
  • UIS students collected a record-breaking 28,946 pounds of food for the Central Illinois Food Bank on Halloween night, nearly doubling the amount collected in 2017.
  • Dr. Adriana Crocker, UIS professor of political science, was named a University of Illinois Presidential Fellow, the first UIS faculty member to earn the distinction. President Killeen began the Presidential Fellowship as a way to stimulate and facilitate projects by faculty members across the System to help realize institutional goals. As a Presidential Fellow, Dr. Crocker will work with faculty across the System to promote international student exchanges and research partnerships.
  • The Illinois Innocence Project at UIS was awarded federal grant funds totaling $641,000 this year This important project works to free individuals who have been incarcerated for crimes they did not commit while, at the same time, it provides unparalleled experiential learning opportunities for UIS students. The project was successful this year in achieving its 11th exoneration when Bill Amor was released from prison on February 21 after 22 years in prison.
  • In January, the UIS Campus Senate and later the Illinois Board of Higher Education approved a proposal to establish the UIS Center for Lincoln Studies. The Center is a key priority for the Reaching Stellar campaign and will be a national hub for all things Lincoln.
  • UIS Athletics completed its new strategic plan last Fall, the “BLUEprint for Excellence,” with a commitment to center the student-athlete experience on academic achievement, the pursuit of championships and community outreach.
  • Our annual faculty and staff fundraising campaign, which runs through June 30, is seeing great results, with 44-percent participation of university employees thus far. This level of generosity is very much appreciated.
  • UIS students won the Outstanding Delegation Award during the international Model United Nations simulation in New York City in March. This is the second year in a row that UIS students have won the award. Three UIS students also were honored with individual awards.
  • Dr. Clarice Ford, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, was recently named one of five Security Bank Women of Influence for 2018. The honor recognizes local women for their professional achievements and contributions to the Springfield community.

This Saturday, I will proudly shake the hands of nearly 1,000 new University of Illinois graduates as they walk across the Bank of Springfield Convention Center stage. Each has left their mark on this campus through their ideas, their leadership, their commitment to excellence and so much more. I like to think these graduates are leaving UIS better than they found it, all to the benefit of those who remain and who have yet to come. Thank you for contributing to these students’ success and to the success of our university.

As we close another academic year, my seventh as your Chancellor, I continue to be inspired by and thankful for the great work performed across our campus by talented and dedicated staff, faculty and students. I remain so proud to share with you this opportunity to make our university stronger and more vibrant than ever and to achieve our University’s mission to transform lives and serve society.

Have a safe and happy summer!

With all best wishes,

Susan J. Koch, Chancellor

Chancellor Susan J. Koch