Glassman addresses Eastern, talks concerns, goals

Corryn Brock, Editor-in-Chief

University President David Glassman spoke on the six goals he has for the university in the current academic year during his State of the University address Wednesday afternoon.

His goals included the continuation of his Vitalization Plan; improving the aesthetic and functionality of the campus; a continued focus on student success; a strong focus on student recruitment; a greater commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and to encourage people to reengage in the campus community after a loss in connections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Glassman’s goals

Glassman stated he, along with Eastern Provost Jay Gatrell, plan to create a new five-year strategic plan in conjunction with the Vitalization Plan he enacted in 2016.

Glassman said his Vitalization Plan has led Eastern “to enrollment growth, annually balanced budgets, new academic programming, sustained academic excellence, and an increased ability to provide our students with a positive living and learning environment.”

He added the five-year plan may be delayed due to the uncertainty the Delta variant is causing.

In regard to campus-wide improvements, Glassman spoke on some current projects the university has undertaken like replacing the HVAC system and mechanicals in the Life Sciences building, repairs to the outside appearance of McAfee and repairs to the north staircase outside of Booth Library, among other projects.

Glassman shared he wants to see a continued “All-In” focus on student success and emphasized that academic, social, mental, financial and inclusiveness are all aspects that should be focused on.

He added that as Eastern has over 30 percent of students who self-identify as a minority, the university should be a leader in closing retention and graduation gaps for gender and racial groups, as laid out in the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s 10-year strategic plan.

In addition, he said recruitment must be a top priority at Eastern so the university can see continued growth. Glassman said recruitment should be a top priority for everyone.

“Everyone at EIU has a role they can play in recruiting students either through working in collaboration with our Admissions and Enrollment Management offices, welcoming visitors to our campus with a friendly greeting and polite conversation, academic departments communicating with prospective students once they have been admitted, ensuring our grounds and buildings are clean and appealing, and promoting EIU to our friends and acquaintances,” Glassman said.

Glassman also challenged the university to go beyond just acknowledging the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Our students of color continue to alert me to situations in which they do not feel equally valued at Eastern—either through overt, direct actions, or through microaggressions that may not be intentional.  These situations appear to be occurring inside and outside our classrooms on campus, as well as in our neighborhoods off campus,” Glassman said. “Racism, xenophobia, and bigotry must never be given safe harbor at EIU. Period.”

He encouraged the campus community to participate in the Reaching Inclusivity for Student Excellence Conference on Oct. 15.

His last goal focused on bringing the campus community together.

“COVID has taken its toll on us all – socially, physically, and mentally – and I hope we can break its hold on us and our collective morale. Take pride in all we have accomplished. The students are ecstatic about being on campus in person.  Let their excitement brighten your day,” Glassman said. “Submit a shout-out of thanks in the Campus Newsletter for a deserving colleague. Take time to come to Blue-B-Que, bring your kids to Homecoming and watch the parade. Join us at the President’s Spring Employee Appreciation picnic, support our EIU student-athletes as they compete for individual and team success. Enjoy lunch at the annual staff luncheon. Take in a concert or a play at the Doudna, or watch the events during the always-exciting Greek Week. Whatever form of enjoyment fits your interests, EIU is sure to have it…and I hope you will take every opportunity this year to enjoy them.”

Glassman’s retirement plans

Glassman shared his intentions to retire in June 2023 during the address, stating he would like to remain in the presidency for one more year if the Board of Trustees offers him a contract to do so.

After retiring from the presidency he said he plans to return to being a faculty member as a professor of anthropology.

COVID-19

Glassman also expressed his pride in the university’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Myriad individuals across campus have made significant contributions to keeping the campus safe during the pandemic. To recognize every individual would be difficult, but I am extremely aware of the sacrifices and extra work that have gone into keeping our campus safe and our employees and students healthy,” Glassman said. “Thank you all so very, very much for your personal and professional commitments to EIU’s enduring success.”

“I hope all of you are as excited as I am to reclaim the spirit and morale stripped from us by this horrific pandemic.  Don’t forget about the steady progress we accomplished together in our Pathway to Success plan before COVID hit,” Glassman said.

Glassman emphasized he believes that those on campus should be committed to following the Center for Disease Control and Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines and getting vaccinated.

Enrollment

Glassman discussed the Fall 2021 enrollment decrease and concerns that are stemming from it.

From an overall perspective, enrollment decreased by 18 students. Glassman pointed out that an area of concern when looking deeper into the numbers is the decrease from 900 new freshman students to 777 students.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the smaller class is directly related to the pandemic, and if we all pledge to work together, we will rebound in our new freshman enrollments next year. Nevertheless, the smaller class will have an impact on our university’s finances for four years as these students move through their class ranks to graduation.”

He said that while the loss of new freshman students is a concern, overall enrollment balanced itself out with a stronger retention and enrollment success with graduate students and international students.

Glassman said he believes the university could hit his goal of having and maintaining a population of 500 international students.

He said he is pleased that the Biden administration “changed course on (the) issue.”

“I am pleased that the current administration has changed course on this issue, allowing more access for international college students seeking an American education,” Glassman said.

Overall, Glassman said he was pleased with the work of the Admissions Office.

“We knew from the onset it would be a very difficult year to recruit new students to EIU, being unable to meet prospective students and their families in person,” Glassman said. “Despite the uncertainties and restrictions – every academic department, the Graduate School and our Admissions and Enrollment Management offices did everything possible to recruit and retain our student body. I am so very thankful for their effort and actions.”

Finances

Glassman said Eastern’s financial position is stable.

“Not wealthy but in a solid position,” Glassman said.

He said the university’s fiscal year 2022 operating appropriation is approximately $41.4M and the FY22 tuition income estimate is projected at $51.4M for a total of $82.5M set aside for the FY22 income fund budget after tuition waivers are factored in.

He added that Eastern was eligible for $14M in state and federal COVID-19 relief funding and has spent, encumbered or requested $11M of that total.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have had these federal and state dollars made available to us.  As you can see, the cost of protecting our institution against fallout from the pandemic has been enormous, and we are grateful to our federal and state governments recognizing that with this aid.”

Presidential Distinguished Service Award

Glassman awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award to five individuals during the meeting. This included IT Technical Associate Jerry Rankin; Emma Noble, interim director of the Health Education Resource Center; Bursar’s Office cashier Rhonda Bence; Assistant Dean of the Honors College Catherine Polydore and Office of the Registrar Space Administrator Carla Nelson.

Each of the awardees will receive a plaque to commemorate the recognition.

 

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]