After analyzing the recommendations from vitalization project workgroups, the administration has updated and implemented some suggestions from Workgroups no. 1, 4, 5 and 6.
Workgroup no. 1, Student Services, suggested filling positions in the University Police Department.
With the recent police hires, the administration has determined that current staff levels are adequate, according to a report on the updates on the vitalization project webpage.
To provide resources to increase awareness of student services, mobile platform features are being considered by representatives from student, academic and business affairs.
According to the update report, the vice president and student affairs leadership had already begun reviewing student services’ organizational structure even before the vitalization project.
“Since that time, options have continued to be considered, along with feedback, with plans to recommend a reorganization within Student Affairs soon,” the report said.
For Intercollegiate Athletics, Workgroup no. 4 recommended individual sports teams be evaluated to determine elimination possibilities.
According to the update report, this recommendation is currently under analysis to see the fiscal impact eliminating programs would have on the athletics department and on the university’s tuition revenue.
These kinds of discussions have been taking place among Eastern President David Glassman, Athletic Director Tom Michael, Paul McCann, interim vice president for business affairs and Joe Dively, chair of the Board of Trustees, according to the report.
Glassman said in an email that several factors are analyzed when considering elimination possibilities, such as the number of student athletes in the sport, the number of spectators that come to watch the sport, regional and national exposure that the sport brings to Eastern, history and tradition of the sport at Eastern, level of donor support for the sport and Title IX considerations.
“A decrease in the number of sports teams could assist the athletic department in their budget management,” he said. “Conversely, the elimination of some sports teams could reduce the university’s general fund from loss of tuition dollars.”
Though he said current student-athletes and alumni would be disappointed if any sports teams were to be eliminated, the possibility of decreasing the number of sports teams supported by the university is currently being explored.
Glassman said Eastern athletics supports the most sports teams in the Ohio Valley Conference, with 21 total.
“It has become increasingly difficult for EIU to maintain 21 sports teams, given the number of scholarships to support and higher operating costs,” he said.
Other recommendations, such as increasing athletic training personnel or reducing the number of student-athletes they provide services to, are being discussed within the overarching analysis of determining the appropriate number of sports teams, according to the update report.
Safety-related repairs to Lantz Pool have begun, and in the report, it said a plan has been developed to maintain the outdoor athletic fields to ensure their ongoing usability.
To invest in facilities staff, as Workgroup no.5 suggested, four additional groundskeepers have been brought back, according to the report.
The Coleman Hall restrooms are listed in completed projects, and other projects such as Coleman and Klehm classrooms, the Life Sciences buildings and others are being prioritized as funding becomes available.
According to the update report, if money is available, the university plans on proceeding with upgrades to lounges in Andrews and Lawson residence halls in the summer of 2018. The Chik-fil-A store front in the Food Court in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union is set to be upgraded as well, per a contractual agreement.
In the report, it said the university continues to work with Gov. Bruce Rauner, the Illinois legislature, Capital Development Board and Illinois Board of Higher Education to address funding for critical deferred maintenance issues.
“Obtaining any money for deferred maintenance is subject to a capital appropriation, and the timing of that is unknown at this time,” the update report said.
Several of the suggestions regarding Workgroup no. 5, which looked at Marketing, were considered by the administration as “positive recommendations.”
These were hiring more personnel to perform university marketing functions, hiring a strategic marketing director and hiring a marketing manager to direct the day-to-day implementation of the university marketing plan and reforming. However, these will not likely be implemented until a state budget is passed and annual state appropriations are stable and predictable.
Regarding the Workgroup’s suggestion to outsource marketing, the university has signed a contract with the Thorburn Group to assist with developing Eastern’s brand identity, marketing strategy, marketing influencers and media buys. The group has visited campus twice.
Eastern has also signed a contract with Leverage Marketing for help in online advertising and optimizing the university’s presence through keywords on search engines, according to the report.
A permanent budget for university marketing and branding was set up in FY17 from Ledger 1 funds — state appropriations and tuition income supported funds — and from the EIU Foundation.
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