Sitting in his office, poised and reflective, President Al Bowman expressed pride in the recent advancements that have been made at Illinois State and explained his hopes for the future.
“There are more nationally ranked academic programs on campus today than any other time in history,” said Bowman.
“We have been gradually adding programs where we projected student demand and where we saw a growing need in the workforce, and one of those areas that required a major investment and has been very successful is nursing,” he added.
In 1999, the College of Nursing was established, and additional nursing degree programs have been added since. These include programs for nurse practitioners and a doctoral degree in nursing.
Provost Sheri Everts likewise extolled the virtues of other new programs taking shape at ISU.
CJ Zimmerman / DV Senior Staff Photographer: University President Al Bowman proudly discusses recent advancements made at Illinois State.
“We have recently approved a B.S. in Renewable Energy. This degree program is a multi-disciplinary undergraduate major that provides a broad overview of renewable energy industries. The major will have two sequences: Technical sequence and Economic and Public Policy sequence.
“The search for renewable energy resources is, of course, a rapidly growing industry. Many new workers will be needed in the renewable energy industry and graduates of the proposed program will be well-positioned to compete for new and existing jobs,” she said.
Administrators are also preparing to launch a new minor according to Everts.
“As for the minor in Civic Engagement and Social Leadership, it is just being developed and will not be introduced to the curricular process until this fall. The earliest this program will be up and running is the fall of 2010.”
Bowman said there has been a lot of work done around campus to enhance the environment in ways that benefit students, including renovations to residence halls.
“We’ve overhauled five towers so far, and the next work will begin on Watterson, and that work will continue over the next five years. We can see that the completion of the student fitness building is just around the corner. That will be finished probably in the spring of 2011,” he said.
“I think the new facilities have done wonders for the campus psyche. We have a lot of older buildings that either needed to be repaired or needed to be torn down. The facility enhancements that have occurred over the past 15 years have really changed the face of the campus in a very positive way. The development in uptown Normal is going to create a nice campus town environment for Illinois State, and I think that will just be another added plus,” he added.
Jay Groves, assistant to the president, also commented on how the University has changed recently.
“Over the past several years, particularly under the leadership of President Bowman and the outstanding faculty that we have, ISU has become a more popular university.
“We keep getting more and more applications, and the incoming freshmen are becoming more and more talented,” he said.
The average ACT score of this years’ freshman class is 24.3, the highest it has ever been.
Chad Maykuth, freshman, accounting major, commented on his initial impressions of the ISU campus.
“It’s very comfortable around here. People are always here to help you. It’s good to be around people who know what they’re doing and know how to react to certain things. Not to mention, the facilities are very nice. I like it here a lot so far,” he said.
CJ Zimmerman / DV Senior Staff Photographer The construction of the new student fitness center has made major progress over the summer break. The project is scheduled to be complete late 2010, early 2011.
President Bowman further praised the University’s ability to provide a quality education for all of its students.
“The benefit to students in this environment is, as student quality goes up, and as the reputation of our academic programs improve, the value of an ISU degree is also enhanced. I regularly talk to employers who tell me that they’re thrilled to hire ISU graduates,” he said.
He anticipates that ISU will become stronger over the next 10 to 20 years and the value of its degrees will continue to grow. This year, the school is focused on making sure the state meets its obligations to students who depend on the monetary award program and working to enhance private giving from $12 to 15 million per year.
“Another thing that will occupy a lot of our time is working with the political leadership in Springfield to move forward with our Fine Arts renovation project. Centennial and the Center for Visual Arts need to be repaired, and the plan is to demolish those buildings and rebuild the Fine Arts facility in that same location,” said Bowman.
Some long-term goals include a new football stadium and state funding for a major library renovation and addition. Despite economic downturns, the state has allocated about $50 million to building projects at ISU over the past seven years.
“We’ll provide more financial aid to our students this year than we ever have in history. To be able to do that in a year when the country has really struggled is a testament to the resilience of Illinois State and our ability to cope,” Bowman said.