|State of the University 2011|
|Written by Bobby Crossen, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Tuesday, 27 September 2011 20:48|
President Al Bowman addresses the triumphs, challenges and future changes for ISU Athletics
ISU has proved to be a resilient institution despite declining enrollment and budget cuts at universities across the nation.
In the State of the University Address Tuesday afternoon, President Al Bowman said ISU’s population is the largest it has been since 1992, and graduation rates have also seen notable acclaim. From 2003 to 2008, the rate jumped by 11 percent and stands at 71 percent, a historic high.
“Among all of the public research universities in these United States, only five bettered that 11 percent leap, and only one of the five has a higher graduation rate than Illinois State,” Bowman said.
Despite the current economic trends, Bowman said careful planning of university resources allowed for a two percent increase in departmental budgets.
Grants for the past fiscal year peaked at $33 million, crushing the $22.3 million record set in 2008. The money from the grants as well as private parties allowed the university to hire faculty members and reallocate money toward salaries.
“Although our turbulent economy has forced me to maintain tight restrictions on staff hiring, I am pleased to note that we have added 39 new faculty members for this fiscal year,” Bowman said.
The university has seen its share of aesthetic and necessary safety improvements to buildings across campus. Bowman said all of ISU’s residence halls have been renovated with the exception of Watterson Towers, which is more than halfway through its process of rehabilitation.
Bowman said he recognizes the need to improve the Fine Arts complex as well, but explained the budget has been politically stalled in Springfield.
“I am confident there will be movement soon, and it is possible that before the end of this fiscal year, we will secure at least a small measure of capital funds to begin planning for a new fine arts complex,” Bowman said.
Bowman also congratulated the Athletics department for its accomplishment of meeting NCAA Division I certification requirements, an achievement only met by 27 programs in the U.S. Bowman explained the certification designates that ISU operates its athletics facilities in a fashion suitable for Division I membership.
Dan Holland, physics professor, said he is excited about the coming changes to ISU both externally and internally.
“Even a cursory glance of the university reports over the past year is a testament to the creativity, hard work and entrepreneurship of the campus community,” Holland said.
Over the next three to five years, Bowman said ISU plans to bridge a gap between IT service needs at ISU and the services the university is able to provide.
“A first step in this direction is to look at our current investment of resources to ensure all IT activities across the campus are still needed, complementary of one another and being offered without waste or duplication efforts,” Bowman said.
ISU is the only recipient of the 2011 New York Times Political Engagement Project Program of Excellence Award, Bowman said.
The American Democracy Project is the cornerstone in making ISU a model institution for other universities and continues to innovate in the political field.
“The award recognizes the efforts of faculty and staff to provide opportunities for students in the classroom, on campus, and in the community to develop skills related to political processes and leadership,” Bowman said.