Welcome back to campus for the spring 2016 semester. I hope you enjoyed a healthy and relaxing break, and are ready for a busy new term.
I want to thank everyone who participated in the Teaching and Learning Symposium on January 6. If the excellent turnout was any indication, our spring semester will be off to a remarkable start in the classroom. Each year, more than 400 engaged members of ISU’s faculty and staff attend this event—which has become the single largest conversation about teaching and learning annually at this institution.
As we begin the new year, our most important unresolved issue remains the state budget impasse and no FY2016 operating or capital appropriations for Illinois’ public universities. Although I continue to work with my fellow university presidents and chancellors, local and state legislative leaders, and the Governor’s office, there is little news to report. Governor Rauner indicated that late December meetings with leaders in Springfield yielded some progress, but the compromise that will lead to a positive outcome is still lacking.
As we approach the mid-point of seven months without state funding, the budget squeeze is affecting all Illinois’ public colleges and universities—some worse than others. Thus far, we have been able to serve our students by maintaining faculty and support staff levels, and by offering a full menu of courses and sections. We also continue to support our students with the greatest financial need until funds become available through the Monetary Award Program. Our strong enrollment and careful spending have served us well during trying times, and I greatly appreciate your patience as we all do more with less.
The spring term at Illinois State will also be busy outside of the classroom, with the continuation of the University’s Speaker Series and our Founders Day celebrations. I also expect to receive and share a report on our diversity climate survey. Several searches will continue into the spring months, including vice president of Student Affairs and dean of the Mennonite College of Nursing.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and ideas. I can be reached through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I also hope to see you at our many campus academic, cultural, and athletic activities.
Thank you for your service to Illinois State, and please accept my best wishes for a fulfilling spring semester.
Larry H. Dietz