In honor of the annual State of the University address, ISU President Timothy Flanagan and all four vice presidents gathered in front of a large crowd at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Center for the Performing Arts.
The distinguished guests’ speeches celebrated the university’s recent successes as well as discussed goals for the next fiscal year.
When Flanagan took the podium to deliver his speech, he described assessing the state of Illinois State University as “a tad presumptuous” because he has only been in office for two months. He first recognized the many accomplishments ISU has to be proud of.
“From what I have seen so far, my assessment is that Illinois State University is a potent institution,” Flanagan said. “It is a potent university, a diverse institution with great achievement and even greater potential.”
Flanagan recognized ISU’s proud tradition of diversity, the ACT and GPA increase for incoming freshmen, and the high retention and graduation rates that remain second highest in the state of Illinois, as well as among the best in the nation for public universities. He was also proud to announce the most recent graduation figure of 71.5 percent, which has increased 2.7 percent from five years ago.
The completion of the newly renovated Hancock Stadium, Hovey Hall’s facelift and the upcoming construction of the new fine arts center are also areas of progress to take pride in, Flanagan added.
“Everyone here today has contributed in some way to the Illinois State success story. You can and should be proud of your accomplishments and look to the future with optimism.”
“Despite much strength, there are areas of vulnerability,” he added.
Rebounding from the slight slip in this year’s enrollment is a major priority for the president and the provosts in the 2014 fiscal year. Flanagan said ISU must further improve upon recruiting to combat the fierce competition of border-state universities in order to attract quality students.
“There is one thing I’m sure of and it is that we cannot continue to increase the cost of higher education as we’ve done so in the past decade,” he said.
In his closing statement, Flanagan added, “A fine university becomes better by having a vision for the future, great faculty and staff and reliable sources. I believe we have in place all the qualities to be a great university.”
Sheri Everts, vice president for academic affairs and provost, spoke on behalf of the accomplishments and goals for her department in the next fiscal year. Academic affairs hired 46 new tenure-track faculty for the fall 2013 semester and revised the general education program.
“This number  represents more than a few interviews and welcoming atmosphere we have come to expect at ISU. It also represents the quality programs that recruit these faculty who can go anywhere but choose ISU for its quality teaching and excellent research,” she added.
Academic affairs’ goals for the next fiscal year include continuing to focus on enrollment while maintaining diversity on campus as well as supporting research conducted by faculty. Implementing the new general education assessment and more high-tech classrooms are also goals.
Dan Layzell, vice president for finance and planning, discussed the past year’s highlights. These points included the collaborative effort to update the Educating Illinois strategic plan, the development of a long-term financial plan for the university and implementation of many items from the division plan.
ISU’s financial department was able to reduce utility costs by $1.5 million and submit many work orders. A 96-seat classroom was also constructed in Williams Hall under the department’s direction.
In 2014, Layzell’s team will work towards advancing the university’s strategic plan and Educating Illinois, meet milestones in LeapFoward and begin the design and planning phase for the fine arts building. Architects will complete the design for University Galleries at Uptown Station, and construction will begin in the next year. The final phase of Hovey Hall’s renovation will take place as well.
Erin Minné, vice president for university advancement, celebrated the productivity of her department. Minné said 10,151 alumni donors participated last year, surpassing the 10,000 mark for the first time in years. Up from 5 percent from the previous year, 35 percent of faculty and staff donated gifts to ISU and 10 percent of students made a senior gift.
Another banner year in fundraising, supporting enrollment management and continuing to hold a central focus on alumni donors are in Minné’s plans for the 2014 fiscal year.
“This year our staff will fund for another increase in senior class giving. As always, we want to emphasize stewardship because our best future donors are those who currently give,” Minné said.
Larry Dietz, vice president for student affairs, discussed the strides his department has taken during 2013. With 340 student organizations, students have ample opportunities to demonstrate their leadership skills, Dietz said.
Dietz called attention to the programs that promote recruitment and retention at ISU. These programs include ISU Leads, on-campus housing and dining events, late night events, the student veterans program, job fairs and internship opportunities, additional security at the residence halls, the Bird Watch app and suicide prevention programs. Cultural diversity training has been implemented and a diversity council has been formed as well.
In the midst of all the recent campus renovations, the student affairs office has received approval for phase one renovation of the Bone Student Center and is preparing for demolition of south campus.
The agenda for the approaching fiscal year includes improving external funding, professional development and promoting Redbird spirit and tradition.
Immediately following the speeches, the floor was open for audience questions.
“It’s always good to have the opportunity to hear from the president and learn more about upcoming plans. It’s also nice that they [the speakers] open up more to campus which provides a collaborative effort,” Chuck Scott, director of facilities and management said.
“I’m really glad I came and had the chance to hear what everyone had to say. I actually work in the president’s office so it was cool to see a different side to them,” Taylor Maziarka, junior community health major, said.