President's Spring Semester Letter
January 24, 2003
Dear Western Illinois University community members,
I hope that you all had a wonderful winter break and that the start of the new semester has been rewarding. Elaine and I just realized that it is a year ago that I interviewed for the first time in Chicago for the Presidency at Western Illinois University. It has been a remarkable year for us. We have greatly enjoyed the transition to our new lives and our first semester at Western Illinois University and in Macomb.
I believe that we have begun to make progress on many of our key initiatives. The program statement for our new Performing Arts Center has generated a great deal of excitement and discussion on campus as well as within the community. The facility has the potential to make Western a regional arts center and to help us recruit students, while providing a wonderful venue for our performing arts series. The planning process is well underway and I encourage everyone to review the drafts of values, vision, and mission on the website (upc.wiu.edu). The Provost search is attracting a significant number of candidates and I look forward to the successful completion of that search before the end of this semester. The First Year Experience Committee has begun meeting.
I continue to visit the Quad Cities and to meet with legislative and local leaders about how Western can expand facilities and services to meet public higher education needs of the Quad Cites area population. I am encouraged by the positive response that we have received. We will be restructuring the current position of the Dean of the School of Extended and Continuing Education into a new one titled Associate Provost for the Quad Cities and Continuing Education, effective January 1, 2004. That position will be housed in the Quad Cities and will oversee the academic issues on that campus. We are currently working on a job description for that position and I look forward to receiving input from all of the constituents in the Quad Cities.
The VPs, deans, and staff continue to review more aggressive strategies for diversifying our student body, faculty, staff, and administration. I believe that we will have some successes to report in the coming year. I also hope that we will soon have a technology report that will advise us how better to deliver services to all members of the university community.
In the midst of all of this planning, the statewide budget casts a gloomy shadow. I know that we are all concerned about the $5 billion dollar budget deficit announced by Governor Blagojevich. We pledge to work with our new Governor to try to remedy the states budget problems while at the same time not sacrificing the quality of education we provide to our students. I have asked all of our Vice Presidents to identify 2% of their areas budget for a possible reduction, if one becomes necessary. Since the budget picture could require even greater sacrifice, we are also reviewing other possible budgetary reduction strategies. The key principle guiding our budgetary analysis, however, is to continue to protect our employees. We will strive to address the budget difficulties without layoffs and without impacting the lives of those who work at Western Illinois University.
Again, I want to thank the entire community for all of your support during these difficult times. I know that we will continue to make progress as we build on the historic traditions of our great university.
Western Illinois University