Legislative Testimony

March 26, 2009
William L. Perry, President
Eastern Illinois University

Honorable Chairperson and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and represent Eastern Illinois University, a university of opportunity since its founding in 1895. Thank you for your support for EIU.

Our goal at Eastern is to become the best university in the country at integrating the academic and personal development of our students. We are committed to excellence, strong personal relationships, access to an Eastern education, and service to our community, region, state, nation, and world. We prepare our graduates to be lifelong learners who can compete in a knowledge economy, serve in a volunteer society, and operate in a global arena.

Your investment in higher education at EIU has been a good one. We perform well and are good stewards of the state’s resources. Here is a short list of examples:

  • Our new student tuition rate in FY 2009 is fourth lowest among Illinois public university campuses.
  • Our textbook rental system saves each of our students approximately $800 a year in textbook costs.
  • Our faculty are funded by external agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Since 1996 we have reduced our electric consumption by 35 %; our coal consumption by 7,000 tons per year, and our water consumption by 45 %. Our energy cost per square foot is the lowest in the state.
  • Our retention and graduation rates are in the top 3 among Illinois public university campuses.
  • We have more than 100 2+2 articulation agreements with community colleges. One third of our new students each year are transfer students. We have 15 baccalaureate completion programs at ten community college sites. We have dual admission programs with six community colleges and the four community colleges of the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges system.
  • Our alumni satisfaction rate is 96 % after one year from graduation and 99 % after nine years from graduation.
  • Our priorities are to invest in excellence in faculty teaching and research, to enhance service and leadership opportunities for our students, to leverage our new Doudna Fine Arts Center for enhanced education of our students and outreach to our region, to expand our study abroad programs, and to enhance our honors programming. To support affordability of an Eastern education, we are building our private fundraising capacity, we will continue to invest in sustainable operations, and we will continue to seek efficiencies in our operations.
  • Our number one capital priority is the construction of a renewable energy center to replace our aging and increasingly unreliable steam plant. Legislation has been proposed that will facilitate the achievement of this priority without a request for state funds or for a fee increase for our students. This shovel-ready project will provide construction jobs in the short term, cleaner environment and cost avoidance in the long run, and a learning laboratory for our faculty and students on energy conservation and alternative sources of renewable energy.

The ability to deliver excellence in 2009 becomes increasingly difficult, however, when our state appropriated resources are below 2002 levels. As state appropriated resources decrease, tuition levels increase. State appropriations and tuition dollars provide the needed resources so that we can provide a quality educational experience to the citizens of Illinois. The accessibility of quality public higher education is now at risk. We at Eastern are committed to accessibility, but the historic partnership between the state and universities needs renewal in a very tangible way—with increased budget commitment from the state.

As we look to the future we believe that excellence in affordable higher education at Eastern will result from a robust partnership between the university and the state of Illinois. Wise investment of a balance of general appropriations and tuition revenues will continue to bring benefit to Illinois as we graduate students who are well prepared to contribute to our society. I ask for your enhanced support of higher education and Eastern Illinois University. We at Eastern pledge to you an unwavering commitment to excellence and good stewardship.

I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.