It is a pleasure to welcome you back to campus for the spring 2019 semester at Illinois State University. I hope you enjoyed a happy and healthy break and look forward to a productive and exciting spring term.
As you know, this month will bring a change in the governor’s office. I was honored to serve on the Pritzker higher education transition team and I have had the opportunity to meet personally with the governor-elect to promote Illinois State.
It is the governor’s responsibility to appoint public university trustees, and we will very likely see changes on our governing board. The terms of Chair Rocky Donahue, Secretary Dr. Mary Ann Louderback, and Bob Churney expire at the end of January. In addition, our most recently appointed board members, John Rauschenberger, Julie Jones, Sharon Rossmark, and Bob Dobski were never confirmed by the Illinois Senate due to political issues in Springfield, so their appointments are also in question. Governor Pritzker could move to reappoint any, all or none of our current trustees, a process that could take a month or more. We will keep the campus community apprised of any announcements regarding trustee appointments, and we will continue to work with and support our present board.
The legislative budget season will also be upon us soon, and I will continue to urge lawmakers to create a fair and equitable funding formula for Illinois public universities. Illinois State is the third largest educator of students among the state’s 12 public universities, but as I’m sure you’ve heard me say on many occasions, the University receives the smallest appropriation per FTE student of any of the 12. Some of our staff recently performed a recalculation exercise based on the entire number of in-state students at all Illinois public universities and the total FY2018 public university operating appropriation. They discovered that if appropriations were based on the single performance metric of the number of in-state students educated by each university, Illinois State’s appropriation would jump by an amazing 126 percent. Obviously, I don’t expect that to happen, and I also would not want ISU’s funding to increase at the expense of another institution. Still, the math does reveal a substantial inequity in ISU’s state appropriation and it also underscores the need for a real public university funding formula. Meanwhile, through your work, Illinois State will continue to build and maintain the type of University that is a source of pride for the entire state of Illinois. Our performance has earned our institution equitable state funding.
Because of your outstanding teaching, research, service, and support, Illinois State University has remained strong and stable, and continues to attract large numbers of students. Applications for the 2019-2020 school year are up 27 percent over this time last year and admits are up 17 percent. Applications from students of color are also up substantially over this point last year, with African-American applications rising 34 percent, Latino/Latina applications up 40 percent, and applications from Asian students up 36 percent. Meanwhile our INTO Illinois State internationalization program has proven to be one of the strongest programs of its kind in the nation. ISU’s inaugural class last fall had 63 students and the University welcomed an additional 93 new INTO Illinois State students for the spring semester.
Finally, I am thrilled to report that the Redbirds Rising campaign has surpassed the $135 million mark and visions of bursting through the $150 million goal are beginning to come into focus. Redbirds Rising has attracted more than 46,000 donors, including almost 18,000 new contributors.
As we look forward to a busy and successful spring semester, I will look forward to seeing you at our many academic, cultural, and athletic events. I will continue to seek and appreciate your feedback and support, and I wish you the best for the coming months.
Larry H. Dietz