NORMAL — Diminished state financial support is only one challenge facing Illinois State University, President Al Bowman said Thursday in his annual State of the University address.

The university also must be prepared for a declining number of high school graduates and respond to changing demographics and increased competition from higher education providers within and outside of Illinois, he said.

Therefore, Bowman is directing top administrators, working with others on campus, to develop “a new long-range financial plan that ensure the continued quality, strength and viability of the university in these uncertain and turbulent times.”

Despite concerns expressed about state financial support in general and the uncertainty caused by unresolved pension issues, Bowman was generally upbeat in his address.

He noted that while other universities — public and private — are struggling or at risk, ISU is “financially sound” and has made “remarkable progress” in the past 10 years in breaking “from the common pack of mid-level universities.”

Among accomplishments cited by Bowman were historic highs in graduation and retention rates as well as the grade point averages and ACT averages of incoming students. He also noted high rankings given to several academic programs, upgraded facilities and strides made in private fundraising to offset dwindling state resources.

“Still, the economic threats on our near horizon are very real,” Bowman said.

ISU’s state appropriation of $74.1 million is equivalent to the state support it received in 1997, Bowman said.

“State support in Illinois has evaporated to under 19 percent of operating expenses, and costs that used to be the responsibility of the state have now been placed on our shoulders,” Bowman said.

Dan Holland, a physics professor who is head of ISU’s Academic Senate, said after the speech that, to a large extent, the faculty is behind Bowman and the course he is setting.

Holland shared Bowman’s concern for what the president described as “the de-prioritization of public higher education in Illinois.”

Holland is worried about “the public perception that higher education is an individual rather than a public good. … The reason we got to be the most dynamic economy in the world is because of access to higher education. … Now it is becoming so expensive for students, it’s putting it out of reach for some.”

In outlining what the long-range financial plan must accomplish, Bowman included maintaining the affordability of an ISU education in addition to maintaining high-quality academics, strengthening enrollment competitiveness and diversifying ISU’s revenue base. 

(5) comments

MRK
MRK

What challenge - do what you always do, raise the tuition. That's always been the financial plan. Eventually that's going to backfire, though, when the benefits of a college education are outweighed by just spending the 4 years of a degree getting into the workforce and gaining experience.

ISUChemistryProf
ISUChemistryProf

Unfortunately, pesky things like logic and facts collide with your missive. The unemployment rate for college graduates today is 4.1%, less than half the rate for high school graduates. And, by the way, the next time you're in a room with a couple of millionaires, ask them if they have college degrees. The Census Bureau reported that 84% of all millionaires hold college degrees.

thoughts a million
thoughts a million

Yep, that's right .... just raise tuition and screw the customers of the university -- the students. Don't try to increase annual giving efforts, or impose a hiring freeze for non-essential positions over the past five years, just screw the students. Don't go to Springfield any more and complain to the Legislature that they don't fund education like they should (or used to); just screw the students. Don't implement a program where tuition rates are frozen for the four years a student attends, just screw the students. And don't limit enrollment to ensure quality -- just double enrollment, but don't increase faculty and staff. Who cares about quality of instruction -- let's just rake in the dough and screw the students........
.
MRK, you really have NO clue how hard ISU works to keep the costs of attending school under control. And ISUChemistryProf is correct.

thoughts a million
thoughts a million

And MRK quietly hides when facts and logic are presented....

alice winter
alice winter

It's not like he was being irrational about it. With the way things are going tuition will have to be raised unfortunately. ISU has done a great job at doing all they can, but that only goes so far. Besides the point, the benefits of a college education really don't justify the experience you get actually doing something. Rising educational costs coupled with a lackluster philosophy of textbook regurgitation doesn't get anyone anywhere productive.

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