Edwardsville, Ill. (PRWEB) September 26, 2014
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe gave her annual “State of the University” address this morning to the campus community. She reflected upon many accomplishments during the past year, expressed optimism over the state of the institution and also acknowledged the challenges that are ahead.
From the Morris University Center Meridian Ballroom, Furst-Bowe greeted a crowd of nearly 500. See the video.
Furst-Bowe recounted the University’s most recent recognitions. This month, U.S.News & World Report ranked SIUE among the best Regional Universities Midwest for the 11th consecutive year, remaining in the top 50 in the overall rankings and standing 11th overall among public universities in that category.
The latest U.S. News rankings came just after recognition by Washington Monthly in August that SIUE has climbed into the Top 40 for master’s universities in the nation. SIUE is first among all master’s institutions in Illinois on the national magazine’s list.
She acknowledged the record freshman class of 2,126 students. Those first-year students contributed to a record full-time undergraduate student body of 10,979 students or 220 (two percent) more full-time students than one year ago. Overall enrollment grew to 13,972 or one percent (122 students) more than last fall.
Among the other high points, Furst-Bowe reported that SIUE received 185 external awards totaling $34.9 million in FY14 and 84 research awards totaling more than $5 million.
The chancellor also focused on the Higher Learning Commission’s accreditation visit in March. The Quality Check-Up Report indicated thart SIUE provided strong, clear and well-presented evidence for the Criteria for Accreditation and Core Components.
Furst-Bowe pointed proudly toward SIUE’s increasingly diverse campus as approximately one-quarter of the student body is now comprised of minority and international students. A significant element is a record international enrollment that has reached 420 students, the first time in 10 years that international enrollment surpassed 400.
Sustainability continues to be a focus as SIUE received a bronze rating from STARS (Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Ratings System) for its accomplishments in campus sustainability.
Among the challenges noted by Furst-Bowe, first is the continuing decline of state support as appropriations have declined nearly $10 million in the past five years. She praised faculty and staff for their commitment to effectiveness and efficiency while managing tightened budgets.
Despite the budget challenges, Furst-Bowe pointed to new initiatives funded for FY15 including:
- Utilities, operation and maintenance costs for new buildings – primarily the new Science Building
- New, expanded and online program development
- Increased funding for student scholarships
- Pilot program for open educational resources using iPad minis
In these challenging economic times, fundraising under new Vice Chancellor for Advancement Rachel Stack is growing. The University Foundation received 400 more gifts in FY14 than the previous year. Meanwhile, the University endowment has grown past the $20 million mark for the first time.
Under the direction of new Provost Parviz Ansari, the New Reality Project (Reimagining Excellence in Academics and Learning through Innovation, Technology and You) continues to address a wide variety of issues.
Furst-Bowe will maintain the emphasis on improved retention and graduation rates. Those rates will continue to draw attention as funding tied to performance, retention and student success is a campus, state and national issue. SIUE’s retention rate of current first-to-second year students climbed 3.34 percent from a year ago to 72.64 percent. Meanwhile, the current six-year graduation rate (2007 cohort) is 50.4 percent.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high quality, affordable education that prepares them for successful careers and lives of purpose. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of nearly 14,000.