Illinois State University President Larry Dietz addressed members of the university and the Bloomington-Normal community Tuesday afternoon. His sixth annual State of the University Address boasted about the numerous accomplishments and values of Illinois State University.
The half-hour speech highlighted Illinois State’s core values and visions as Dietz coined this as his new tag line. During the presentation, Dietz highlighted the following core values: Learning and scholarship, diversity and inclusion, respect, collaboration, individualized attention, civic engagement and integrity. The bulk of the speech focused on specific examples of these stated values over the course of the last academic year, as well as plans to incorporate the values within the campus community.
The first value, learning and scholarship, touched on certain grants and contracts the university has funded. The most notable, just announced on Monday, includes a $10 million grant to protect farmlands and farmers’ income in the state of Illinois. This grant will allow John Sedbrook, Ph.D., a professor at the university, to domesticate a plant into a winter crop to produce biodiesel fuels and animal feed.
Another investment the university is working on involves a new Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology (CTLT) to be housed in Milner Library. This project is set to take place over the course of the next year, while the current CTLT is housed in Williams Hall.
According to Dietz, diversity remains a key value at Illinois State. This is proven in the 32% of racially diverse students who are a part of the largest freshman class in over 30 years. In August, Illinois State University received statewide notoriety in winning the Outstanding University Award from the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce. The university earned the honor for forging multiple new relationships and contracts with African-American firms. Illinois State is the only public university recognized for this diversity and inclusion.
President Dietz also announced the opening of a new multicultural center to further embrace the university’s value of diversity. The new center is to be located in the current Instructional Technology Development Center and is slated to open in the fall of 2020.
The core value of respect was added to the strategic plan only two years ago. Dietz said in the speech that the "largest room in the world is the room for improvement.”
He elaborated on this quote by acknowledging the many ways Illinois State can continue to respect each other as well as the campus environment. Throughout the year, ISU will invest in numerous projects to improve the comfort of students, faculty, staff and visitors while ensuring these projects remain ecofriendly.
The university will assume management of Bradley University’s public radio station to extend the values of Illinois State to the Peoria area. This collaboration will allow Illinois State to be a greater presence in the Peoria city area and ensure that the city continues to hear public radio.
Furthermore, the president addressed the university’s collaboration with CORE Construction by providing a status update on the Bone Student Center Revitalization. The next phase of the project includes an exterior grand staircase and ramp access, a new faculty and staff lounge, an enhancement to the Prairie Room and two new dining venues announced in August. The phase is slated for completion in Spring 2020.
Illinois State prides itself in its individualized attention to students and faculty. The president took a brief moment to recognize individuals within the admissions office who help advertise this value to high schoolers throughout the state and country. Dietz also took time to provide his take on Illinois State’s “signature” value:
Upon addressing the final two values of the institution, Civic Engagement and Integrity, the president recognized two notable groups of individuals. First, he acknowledged Gamma Phi Circus for 90 years of engagement with the campus and the surrounding community. Additionally, he announced the organization’s performance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Secondly, President Dietz recognized Redbird student-athletes, who set a new grade-point average record during the spring semester and earning the Missouri Valley Conference All-Sport Trophy. The new grade point average record now stands at 3.31 due to the efforts of student-athletes, 93 of which achieved perfect grade point averages for the semester.
Dietz said the accomplishments of the university make him “proud to be a Redbird for life."