Dr. Clarice Ford, Executive Director
Diversity Center, University of Illinois Springfield

Testimony (prepared remarks)

House Appropriations – Higher Education Committee
Illinois State Capitol – Hearing Room 118

February 11, 2009

Good Morning,

The undergraduate enrollment at UIS has been on the upswing under the emphasis of diversity. It’s important for us to recognize that requiring the ACT testing in the State of Illinois in 2001 created an environment among all students in which everyone is thinking about college. If the most recent ACT scores have revealed anything in 2008, it was that more underrepresented students than ever before are taking the ACT test and increasingly setting their eyes on higher education. Over the past five years minorities grew as a percentage of UIS undergraduates by 46.1%.

This information has allowed UIS to become actively engaged in bringing awareness to the underrepresented communities in Springfield to Beardstown, Illinois. We have created an educational program called “College Prep 101” after meeting with community health care providers, law enforcement, The Boys and Girls Club, and several after school programs to get a pulse on the community to see how we could better serve the educational needs of the growing underrepresented populations in these designated communities at UIS.

A presentation was created and implemented with several community partnerships such as the Houston Memorial Library in Beardstown to the Springfield District 186. The program allows underrepresented students and families from the community to meet with UIS representatives and students about financial aid, housing, academics and experiences at UIS as a minority undergraduate. We are certain this program is effective by the increased numbers of our 2009 fall applications, college visits from minority students, and request from the community to speak to community programs such at the Frontiers Club and the Urban League to name a few.

There are many programs at UIS to support our underrepresented students at UIS such as the Midstate Student Support for Teaching, and the newest program the Bonner Leader’s Program promotes the development of student leaders while advancing active and engaged learning by connecting students with community service opportunities. Students are encouraged to enroll in a two year term with the Bonner Americorps program and complete 900 hours of service, student receive $2675 dollars which can be used to repay student loans, pay current educational expenses or pay for future education at an institution of higher learning.

As you can tell UIS is committed and dedicated to the recruitment, transition and retention of ethnic minority and underrepresented students. Thank you!