CHANCELLOR KOCH ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

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CHANCELLOR KOCH ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

UIS CHANCELLOR DR. SUSAN J. KOCH

UIS CHANCELLOR DR. SUSAN J. KOCH

Photographs courtesy of UIS.edu

UIS CHANCELLOR DR. SUSAN J. KOCH

Photographs courtesy of UIS.edu

Photographs courtesy of UIS.edu

UIS CHANCELLOR DR. SUSAN J. KOCH

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University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch, announced last Friday that she will retire from her role effective June 30. Nine years after her initial start date as chancellor, she will be stepping down as the longest serving chancellor in the University of Illinois system.

Koch cited a desire to spend more time with her family and to experience the world outside of the responsibilities of academic administration as her reasons for the decision. She currently has no set future plans.

Her main projects during her time at the university were mostly related to growth, both on and off campus. One of the physical additions to the University was Innovate Springfield, a business startup incubator downtown that is across the street from the Old State Capitol Building. Increasing the presence of the university in the downtown area is a continuing goal.

Another physical addition to the University under her leadership is the Student Union. This $21.7 million dollar campus building serves as a gathering place for student and organization activities. The Student Union was completed in 2018.

One project she is currently working on is the “Reaching Stellar” campaign, a wide-ranging fundraising organization focused on giving money to academic programs and scholarships for individuals. As of now, this program has raised $33 million of its $40 million goal.

On top of fundraising and physical additions to the campus, the University has seen many programs added to the list offered students. These include information systems security, exercise science, theater, data analytics and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing through the University of Illinois at Chicago. Despite these additions, some programs have taken a hit in enrollment, and the English department was recently forced to end its master’s degree program.

Not everything under Chancellor Koch’s leadership has been positive. The university as a whole has seen a massive decrease in enrollment in recent years, and although the freshman class sizes are larger than in previous years, the total enrollment is still lower than its historical highs about five years ago. Most UIS students are from Illinois, and with young people making up the demographic that is leaving the state the quickest, retaining enrollment is difficult. Graduate students have seen the biggest drop.

Chancellor Koch leaves the university in a place that is, in many ways, better than it was when she arrived. However, she also leaves it in a time of challenge. Programs and infrastructure have been added and plans are moving forward to add more, yet enrollment is down. It remains to be seen what solutions will be final. Whatever the future may hold for the university, the students of the future will benefit from her decade as chancellor.