After more than 28 years of service to the fiscal operations at Illinois State, Associate Vice President for Budget Planning and Analysis Barb Blake is retiring December 31, 2013.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Barb for many years in a variety of capacities and have always known her to be a consummate professional who gives 100 percent to everything she does on behalf of ISU,” said Vice President for Finance and Planning Dan Layzell. “Her work ethic, creative problem-solving abilities, and collegial approach have certainly benefited the entire University community.”
A retirement party will be held Thursday, December 12, from 2-4 p.m. in the Old Main Room at Bone Student Center. The entire campus community is welcome to both celebrate and congratulate Barb Blake on a dedicated career to Illinois State University.
Born and raised in Palmyra, Blake attended Bradley University on a math scholarship, earning a degree in accounting. Working through college as a cashier at the local grocery store, she later began her career with Eagle Foods as an accountant. In 1985 Blake started at Illinois State as a budget analyst in the Budget Office and held various positions within that unit.
Interestingly, she has worked under seven division vice presidents and six presidents, but one constant is that she has always been located in 302 Hovey and in the same office for the first 25 years on the job.
“Only Barb could make working with spreadsheets and data systems enjoyable,” said Executive Director of University Budgets Sandy Cavi. “I’ve learned a lot over the past 15 years, and I thank her for that. It will not be the same without her friendly face next door.”
As associate vice president, Blake leads a small but dedicated staff of four, centrally administrating budget activity for the institution, performing budget analysis and providing important data among other essential responsibilities.
“My favorite part of this job is helping campus units and departments with their budget process questions and issues, and working together on finding financial solutions to meet their needs,” said Blake.
Blake has seen many changes over time on campus; the largest are technology and sources of university revenue.
“State funding and tuition revenues as the main source of revenue has actually flip-flopped during my time here,” said Blake, noting the historical reduction in state support.
She also adds that her proudest accomplishment is being a significant part of guiding Illinois State through tough budget reduction years.
“The University has weathered a lot of storms when it comes to changes in the budget, and my part in keeping the University on solid financial footing is something that I am very proud of,” said Blake.
Blake expects to take a few months in the new year to “decompress and relax” and then possibly return to work for special projects as needed. She also has adventurous travel plans with her husband that will begin with a summer trip to Alaska and then eventually to fulfill the “biggest bucket-list dream” by traveling to Australia. As comfortable in camouflage as she is in business suits and separates, Blake is certain that she plans to devote more time to hunting.
“I hope to try big game hunting for the first time, maybe pursue Elk hunting in Idaho or picking off a bear,” laughed Blake.
After she departs, Blake hopes that the pride employees have for this institution will never change.
“About 10 to 15 years ago Illinois State charted its own destiny by promoting the many points of pride and the positives here. That charter has been successful and I hope our pride continues,” she said.