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Chancellor Koch opens academic year at convocation

This year marks the 44th academic year for UIS. It is also a year of tremendous growth, with the largest freshman class in UIS history (325+), as well as the largest international class to date. “We’re standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Chancellor Susan Koch – quoting Isaac Newton – as she explained UIS’ academic position at the annual fall convocation.

The convocation, held Aug 22, 2013 at PAC, gave Koch the opportunity to reflect on the past academic year, and further outline goals for the year to come.

“Growth, talent acquisition and retention, and facilities – those are our priorities,” she said.

Growth: “If we’re going to be ‘masters of our own fate,’ we’re going to need to be a larger institution.”

This means we need to foster:

  • Higher visibility to prospective students to draw a larger, increasingly diverse student body, faculty and staff.
  • A larger variety of relevant undergraduate and graduate programs that maintain teaching-focused learning.
  • Affordability and accessibility – with an increased number of online programs.

Talent acquisition and retention: “I am very, very fond of talking about the bus… ‘you have to get the right people on the bus and you have to get them in the right seats.’”

To do this, UIS has to increase its success by:

  • Hiring a diverse and talented staff and faculty.
  • Providing appropriate and competitive compensation to improve retention.
  • Strengthening campus culture for students, faculty and staff to create a “collective focus on excellence.”

Facilities: “We have a beautiful campus… but more than anything right now, we need a student union. It is an absolute necessity…”

UIS will improve campus culture through:

  • The addition of the student union – acting as the heart of campus life, and the surrounding communities.
  • The renovation of Brookens Library.
  • The addition of a Public Safety Building.
  • Beginning preliminary planning for the next academic building and renovating existing facilities as needed.

“We’re making progress with all three of these priorities and I am confident that, as long as we stay focused and united in our efforts, we’ll continue to progress,” said Koch.

She closed, saying, “Thank you for the leadership that you live every day, whatever your role may be here at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. I want you to know that I am proud to be part of this community and I appreciate your contributions.”

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