University News

Welcome Back, WIU: A New Year, A New Beginning

January 17, 2018

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Dear University Community,

As we begin a new calendar year and academic semester, I am resolved in my optimism about the future of Western Illinois University. I want to express my gratitude to the faculty, staff, students, and friends who support our University. We appreciate your optimism and all that you do to make Western great. Former Secretary of State and U.S. Army Gen. (ret.) Colin Powell once said, "Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier."

I look forward to a productive 2018 spring semester. Our outstanding students, faculty, and staff are accomplished, talented, motivated, and dedicated to this fine institution and their respective communities. There is no doubt that over the course of this semester, we will continue to thrive, flourish, and accomplish great things.

As we strive to maintain our status as the right choice for student success, our efforts have been hampered by decreased funding from the state. While we are pleased that we are receiving state appropriation installments, we must continue to be frugal, limit expenditures, and find creative ways to do more with less. Despite our financial challenges, we will continue to provide access to a world-class and affordable educational experience for our students.

In our quest to become the premier institution of higher education in Illinois, we will continue our work with legislative leaders to ensure adequate, reasonable, and consistent funding for Western Illinois University. In turn, we will continue to use the precious resources allocated to this University in an efficient manner. We will also move forward with the initiatives set forth in the President's Executive Institute (PEI) and outlined in the University's Strategic Plan.

The work of the PEI is yielding positive results, including the development of regional partnerships with civic leaders through summits, establishing dual enrollment agreements, developing partnerships that benefit our students, learning more about the needs of the region, and raising funds. A major goal of the PEI and the Strategic Plan is to increase student enrollment and retention. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the School of Graduate Studies have implemented aggressive new recruitment plans. These enhanced efforts began during the Fall 2017 semester, and we will persist with these recruitment and retention strategies. Admissions will continue to involve the University community in innovative and productive recruitment and retention efforts.

We must now move forward and look toward Western's bright future. Throughout this semester, I call for all of us to emphasize the positive developments at this University. Famed football coach and motivational speaker Lou Holtz said, "Virtually nothing is impossible in this world if you put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude." Western Illinois University is a great place to work, and Macomb and the Quad Cities are outstanding and safe communities. We are a part of something much bigger than ourselves as we educate stellar students who make a positive impact in the world. We have the opportunity to enhance the learning and growth processes of the next generation of leaders. We can and we do affect lives for the good through our various endeavors. Let us be proud and loud supporters of the great things we accomplish together.

As I stated at the December Board of Trustees meeting, my next town hall meeting will focus on the positive things happening at Western, and we will also discuss ways to share positive messages. The town hall will be held from 4-5 p.m. Monday, February 19 in the University Union Grand Ballroom.

I want to thank all of you for your ongoing support of Western Illinois University. I wish each of you happiness, peace, joy, and success this semester.


Jack Thomas

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations