President Al Bowman recently shared with the campus community a review of  Illinois State highlights from 2011, which was a very good year for the University.

January—Illinois State was ranked as one of the top 100 universities for quality and value by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

The Student Fitness Center/McCormick Hall officially opened, welcoming more than 25,000 visits in its first week.

February—Honorary doctorate degrees were presented to the founding fathers of Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre, Jeff Perry ’78 and Terry Kinney ’76.

For the third straight year, Illinois State earned Tree Campus USA recognition for its dedication to campus forestry management and environmental stewardship.

March—An economic impact analysis revealed that spending by Illinois State University, its employees, and its students directly contributes more than $600 million to the McLean County economy. That spending also returns more than $10 million in tax revenues to the area.

BusinessWeek magazine again ranked the College of Business, located in the newly named State Farm Hall of Business, among the top 100 undergraduate business schools nationwide. Illinois State ranked 26th among all public and private business programs and 16th among public undergraduate business programs in terms of recruiter evaluations.

April—Illinois State formally broke ground for the new, 896-bed, Cardinal Court Apartment Complex. The project is the University’s first-ever public/private student housing initiative.

ISU ranked fifth in the nation as a Peace Corps Master’s International school in the 2011 rankings of Peace Corps’ Master’s International and Fellows/USA Graduate Schools. 

May—Numerous academic, cultural, and scholarship programs at Illinois State University are beneficiaries of $1.8 million in support from the State Farm Companies Foundation. The money, given over the course of two years, supports programs in Illinois State’s six colleges, intercollegiate athletics, and campus-wide minority recruitment initiatives.

Illinois State awarded diplomas to 3,468 students during the University’s 152nd Commencement exercises.

June—Illinois State closed Fiscal Year 2011 with a record $36.8 million in grants and $13.5 million in private gifts.

The University received the highest award for its leadership in developing politically engaged students as the only recipient of the 2011 New York Times Political Engagement Project Program of Excellence Award.

July—Despite continuing state cutbacks, Illinois State began Fiscal Year 2012 financially stable, and was able to offer modest faculty and staff salary increases without resorting to layoffs, furlough days, or facility closures.

Total giving from faculty, staff, and retirees exceeded $1 million for the Gladly We Give campaign in Fiscal Year 2011. The total number of faculty, staff, and retiree donors increased to 1,611.

August—Illinois State welcomed its largest enrollment since 1992, with a total student body of 21,080. Of that total, 3,321 are freshmen. The University’s freshman-to-sophomore retention rate hit the historic high of 85.1 percent, while the graduation rate equals the historic high of 70 percent.

SeptemberU.S. News & World Report ranked Illinois State 85th among public universities nationally, while the M.B.A. and Insurance and Risk Management programs received independent national rankings.

Mennonite College of Nursing formally opened its $2 million nursing simulation laboratory. The facility places students in real-world nursing situations.

October—Illinois State Homecoming 2011 offered alumni and visitors a preview of the recently announced $20-$25 million renovation of Hancock Stadium, including a new east-side grandstand with brick columns and glass walls to provide a more attractive and inviting presence on Main Street. The project will result in outdoor terrace spaces, suite and club seating, and improved concession areas.

The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education selected President Al Bowman as the recipient of its District V Chief Executive Leadership Award.

November—The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy ranked Illinois State’s Department of Accounting 15th in the country for student performance on the national CPA examination.

A Veterans Memorial Garden was dedicated on the Quad to honor faculty, staff, students, and alumni who have served or are serving in one of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

December—A fall semester flurry of grant and contract activity included awards of $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education, $450,000 from the National Science Foundation, $450,000 from the Department of Children and Family Services, $400,000 from the National Institute of Justice, and $330,000 from the McCormick Foundation.

Illinois State wrapped up the calendar year by awarding more than 1,400 degrees during winter commencement ceremonies.