NORMAL — Financial challenges and maintaining access to higher education for the middle class are on the mind of Timothy Flanagan, next president of Illinois State University.
“Public higher education everywhere in the country is facing financial challenges,” said Flanagan, whose selection was announced Friday morning by the ISU board of trustees. “We will meet those challenges.”
He is concerned that the tuition increases driven by loss of state support are “pricing higher education out of reach of middle-class families” and said universities have to “broaden the financial base, keep a consistent eye on costs and do everything we can to reduce the loan burden.”
The ISU board approved a tuition-and-fee increase of about 2 percent Friday for undergraduates starting school this fall.
Flanagan, who is currently president of Framingham State University in Massachusetts, will take the reins at ISU on Aug. 15. He will be paid $350,000 a year, not including other benefits, under his three-year contract. Bowman’s current salary is $400,000.
Al Bowman, ISU’s 17th president, will officially retire on Wednesday. Provost Sheri Noren Everts will serve as interim president from that date to Aug. 14. Everts has been provost since July 2008.
Flanagan, who also is a professor of sociology, has led Framingham State in Massachusetts since August 2006. He previously served as provost and vice president for academic affairs and as a professor of criminal justice at College at Brockport, State University of New York.
ISU Board Chairman Michael McCuskey said Flanagan emerged as the top choice after a 4½-month search because he combines “a successful history as a university president with prior service as a provost, vice president of academic affairs and professor of criminal justice.”
Flanagan has a Ph.D. in criminal justice from the University of Albany, State University of New York and has done postgraduate work at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
“We are fortunate to have attracted a president to our university with a legacy of leadership and scholarship in higher education, as well as an appreciation for the mission and values that guide Illinois State,” McCuskey said. “Dr. Flanagan shares our aspirations and can help us build on our excellent foundation left to us by Dr. Al Bowman.”
Bowman, who has been with the university for 35 years, the last 10 as president, announced his retirement last December. However, he will resume teaching a light load this fall.
The other presidential finalists were: Larry Dietz, Illinois State University vice president of student affairs; Randy Dunn, Murray State University president; and Karla Hughes, Morehead State University provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Joe Burchill, chairman of the Framingham State University board of trustees, thanked Flanagan “for seven years of exemplary service,” in a statement issued by his university.
“Since taking over as president in 2006, Dr. Flanagan’s vision and leadership have guided the university through a major economic recession and helped us emerge stronger than ever,” Burchill said in the statement.
Flanagan said “the most fun part of the job” is getting to know students.
While at Framingham, Flanagan liked to walk around campus and meet students “in their natural habitat,” he said, and he intends to do the same at ISU. He also has asked for a list of “the 100 people I should meet first.”
Student trustee Aaron Von Qualen described Flanagan as a “student-oriented” person who will have a style similar to Bowman, who was well liked by students.
He said of Flanagan, “I think he knows coming in that he has great shoes to fill.”
Academic Senate chairman Dan Holland, who was a member of the presidential search advisory committee, was happy with the choice of Flanagan. “I think he will fit in with the university community,” he said.
Holland agreed with comments made by Flanagan about the importance of faculty-student connections.
“That is kind of what makes ISU ISU, the relationships students have with individual faculty members,” Holland said.