Dear Faculty and Staff Members,
I am excited to welcome all of our faculty and staff to the 2018-2019 academic year at Illinois State, and if this is your first year at the University, a very special welcome to you. We are proud you have chosen to make Illinois State your university home during this stage of your career.
I also want to thank the hundreds of faculty, staff members, students, and friends who volunteered their time during move-in and Welcome Week. All of you certainly showed our new students what it means to be a Redbird.
The summer months were once again a busy time on campus and also full of good news. For the fourth consecutive year, Illinois State earned the designation as a “Great Colleges to Work For,” from the Chronicle of Higher Education, the leading publication in our field. This year Illinois State received the designation in 11 categories, again earning the University a spot on the “Great Colleges to Work For” honor roll. The categories included Collaborative Governance; Compensation and Benefits; Confidence in Senior Leadership; Facilities, Workspace and Security; Job Satisfaction; Professional/Career Development Programs; Respect and Appreciation; Supervisor/Department Chair Relationship; Teaching Environment; Tenure Clarity and Process; and Work/Life Balance. In my estimation, the Chronicle honor is further evidence that people make places and that Illinois State is a place full of terrific people.
The Bone Student Center Revitalization project continued to progress on schedule throughout the summer. The project’s first phase, which includes remodeling of the east and west side entrances, renovation of the Brown Ballroom, construction of a new two-story atrium and welcome center, an updated courtyard area, and additional dining options is moving forward toward an anticipated spring 2019 completion. Phases two and three are expected to be completed by spring 2020.
Although official numbers won’t be available for about 10 days, I expect a strong, diverse, and academically motivated freshman class, and total University enrollment in excess of 20,750. I am grateful to our staff members from Enrollment Management, Admissions, Housing, Financial Aid, University College, Registrar, Advisement, and others who worked tirelessly to recruit and enroll another outstanding class.
As I communicated to you in May, the fiscal year 2019 state budget holds positives for Illinois State University students, faculty, and staff members. The budget includes an FY19 operating appropriation of $66.3 million, a 2 percent or $1.3 million increase over Illinois State’s FY18 appropriation.
Although the appropriation is the second smallest in two decades (excluding budget impasse years), I appreciate the efforts of the governor and legislature to act in a timely manner and provide a source of predictable public support.
The spending plan also includes nearly $66 million in capital funding, with almost $62 million targeted for the Fine Arts Complex construction and renovation project. It is unknown when those funds will be released, and I will update you when new information becomes available.
A full-year state budget, combined with a large freshman and total University enrollment, will assure academic strength and financial stability for Illinois State this year. One positive consequence of this stability is that I will have conversations with our finance leadership and communication with our shared governance groups during this semester regarding faculty and staff salary enhancements.
A great piece of financial news comes from University Advancement, which reports Illinois State posted its second-highest fundraising year on record during fiscal year 2018, raising more than $21.9 million in private support. This marks the University’s fourth consecutive year surpassing $21 million in funds raised. Fundraising highlights in 2018 include $8.6 million in student support, with 62 new scholarships, donations from more than 11,000 alumni, including 1,067 first-time alumni donors, and total endowment growth of 9.1 percent to $126.3 million. Meanwhile, Redbirds Rising, the campaign to secure a future of scholarship, leadership, and innovation, has gone over the $121 million mark toward its final goal of $150 million.
Finally, I hope to see you at many of our fall schedule of academic presentations, athletic events, and cultural gatherings. It is an exciting time to be a Redbird, and I look forward to another great year working with you at Illinois State University.
Larry H. Dietz