Just over four decades ago this fall, I began my undergraduate degree at the University of Akron. All these years later, I once again feel a bit like a freshman coming to campus for the first semester of her collegiate journey.

The emotions that every student starting a degree feels when fall classes begin is exactly what I am experiencing as I take on the responsibilities of serving as Illinois State’s 20th president. What an honor to have been chosen to lead the University! I began July 1 and am enjoying all aspects of the work as I settle into the position. My husband, Scott, and I are especially grateful for the overwhelmingly warm welcome we have received.

Appears In

Like those attending ISU for the first time this fall, I am still learning where buildings are located and details about the University’s rich history. I am also answering the same question incoming students often hear: Why did you pick Illinois State? Many reply that the University’s location is a selling point, and I agree. Scott and I understand why it is so special to be in the Midwest.

The range and quality of academic offerings is an even more critical criterion. During the national search process, I realized that Illinois State has exceptional faculty teaching in stellar degree programs. As a scientist, I was delighted to see the research—especially with students involved—and a range of graduate programs that are equally impressive.

It is the potential to grow Illinois State that is even more compelling. We are on an upward trajectory that I find incredibly exciting, and I hope you do too. The prospect of establishing an engineering program is just one future directed opportunity. Others include renovating the Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts; increasing international student enrollment; and strengthening partnerships locally, within the state, and across the country.

I knew Illinois State was the right place for me when I realized it is a thriving university committed to promoting equity, pursuing diversity, and assuring inclusion, which matches my personal convictions. The established process of shared governance is another strength that fits with my collaborative leadership style.

I am committed to continuing the individualized attention that is Illinois State’s trademark. This is just one of the core values that makes the University exceptional as it impacts each and every student and enhances opportunities for student success.

It is a privilege to take the helm of this university, and I am eager to meet those who have been influenced through their campus connection. I look forward to working with you and learning from you more about what it means to be a Redbird.