Assessments are endless in higher education. From final exams to accreditation visits that validate academic programs, there is always an assessment and review of performance underway. So how do we measure success at Illinois State?
Two of ISU’s own highlighted in this issue—Dr. Donald McHenry and Doug Collins—were assessed by peers and selected as highly prestigious Lincoln Laureates. Both are proud and accomplished Redbirds, and I have to say I am excited to share the number 20 at ISU with Doug. Another alumnus Brendan Hunt has garnered numerous Emmys, a high achievement indeed.
We show success with improvements in facilities as well, from the Bone Student Center renovation to plans for rehabilitating Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts’ space. Two completed projects celebrated in this issue are space in Julian Hall for the cybersecurity program and the opening of the Multicultural Center.
If success is gauged by statistics, the University is incredibly strong. Enrollment remains above 20,000, 28 percent of the student population is from traditionally underrepresented groups, and the number of transfer students attending is up. We are very proud of our successful transfer students who are welcomed to the Redbird family through a campus effort you can learn more about in this issue.
Others look at scholarship and academic programs to gauge success. I am proud to note that ISU faculty remain committed to research, with 516 total works in calendar year 2020. Areas of study continue to expand as well, with new options in low vision and blindness education, bilingual studies, game design, and water sustainability.
ISU has proven strong in private support and competitive wins as well, with more than $25.1 million raised in Fiscal Year 2021. In Athletics, the 2020-2021 MVC All-Sports Trophy was captured again as ISU earned back-to-back conference All-Sports Championships for the first time in three decades while student-athletes maintained academic excellence. Catch up on our student-athletes in this issue.
These wins, these awards, these numbers mark our path that is defined by a continued commitment to the future and our pursuit of excellence. They are all measures of success—but we are inherently so much more. Success is not just numbers. It is harder to quantify but a critically important factor of excellence.
My answer consequently is that success for Illinois State ultimately comes from creating an environment that allows innovation, exploration, and identity to flourish. There will always be work to do and as an institution of higher education, no one is better placed to be at the forefront of change.