July first marked my start at Eastern, and in the very short time here I have experienced a warm welcome from the university and community. I’ve met many people and am looking forward to meeting many, many more. I am pleased to join the EIU family and am looking forward to serving you as president. Although summer is a time when fewer students and faculty are on campus we need to begin discussions on the future of Eastern Illinois University; we will have the major part of the fall semester to involve everyone in those discussions.
This summer and fall we will engage in a series of strategic conversations with all members of our university community regarding two overarching goals I mentioned during the interview process. These are for Eastern Illinois University to be “Best of Class” and “First Choice.” I want Eastern to be known as the best regional university in the Midwest and among the best in the nation, and I want Eastern to be the first choice of students desiring to learn; the first choice of faculty wanting a fulfilled career of teaching, scholarship, and student mentoring; the first choice of staff who want to bring their skills to bear in a noble enterprise of higher education in service to society. The goals of these conversations, in meeting format, are to:
- Recognize our aspirations
- Define what EIU’s needs are to move to best of class and first choice
- Define which of EIU’s existing programs already are, or are close to, best of class or first choice
- Define what EIU’s distinguishing signature programs are or can be
- Address all aspects of the university environment: academics, student life, physical facilities, staff life, and others
- Assess our capacity for progress
The key to success of this endeavor is participation, and I encourage you to participate as fully as possible. We will schedule meetings with representative groups of students, faculty, staff, and administration, and hold public forums for students, faculty and staff. A list (not exhaustive) includes the colleges, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Senate, Council on University Planning and Budget, Council of Deans, Council on Academic Affairs, Council on Graduate Studies, Vice Presidents, Directors, and Department Chairs. Public forums will be scheduled for students, for faculty, for staff. Some forums will be specifically scheduled to have students, faculty and staff participating together. We will keep everyone informed on the progress of the discussions as the process moves along.
Because our partnerships with the schools, community colleges, the local communities, alumni and other friends of the university are important to our success, meetings and communications with those constituencies will occur as well. The emphases of these meetings will be to:
- Obtain comment on, and build support for, the general goals of best of class and first choice
- Build further confidence in EIU’s programs, directions, and collaborations
- Understand how EIU is regarded now, and potentially, as a partner with our constituents
A preliminary report of these discussions would be delivered to the university and other participants in the process prior to a late fall retreat with the Board of Trustees. After sharing the preliminary report with the Board of Trustees, I will report back to the university community, and subsequent to that, I will report conclusions broadly and publicly.
The outcomes of this process will focus our planning, budgeting, and fundraising activities for the next several years. The goals, I believe, are worthy; the effort to achieve them, I know, will be strenuous; of success, I am confident. We stand on the strong foundation of Eastern Illinois University’s proud traditions of excellence, service, devotion to students, and hard work. We will remain true to those values that have sustained and led us to this point. We have the people devoted to taking the university to the next level of achievement. I look forward to working with you in the coming years to further shape the destiny of Eastern Illinois University.
William L. Perry,