Legislative Testimony

April 14, 2010
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 of EIU.

In previous years, I have been given the opportunity to talk to you about Eastern and our commitment to the academic and personal development of our students. I’ve also spoken about our commitment to access and affordability. Finally, I have previously provided information that demonstrates our desire to work collaboratively with public constituencies in an effort to advance our community, region, and state.

Today I have been given the opportunity to tell you how Eastern accomplishes many great things, and does so in an effective and efficient manner.

Eastern is efficient.

We work efficiently throughout the academic career of students. Using the most recent data available from IBHE, Eastern had the 4th highest graduation rate in the state in 2008. As a testament to our efficiency, Eastern accomplished this while having the lowest GRF per FTE student and the lowest GRF+IF per FTE student in the state. (Averaged using FY07 and FY08 totals.)

The success of our institution is due to the commitment of our students, faculty, and staff. Using the most recent data available from IBHE, Eastern had the 3th highest retention rate in the state in 2008. We are able to admit great students and engage them in a manner that maintains continuous enrollment. Eastern has demonstrated great efficiency with respect to moving students through their academic career. Using IBHE’s most recent data (2008) on degrees conferred, Eastern had the 3rd lowest GRF per degree conferred. This represents a significant return on investment of appropriated dollars.

As a result of efficient and effective operations, we are ranked 11th among all public Master’s universities in the Midwest region in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Eastern is accessible.

  • In FY09 we had the fourth lowest tuition of all public universities in Illinois;
  • Regarding tuition, it is important to note that Eastern has the lowest IF per FTE based on available data from IBHE (averaged using FY07 and FY08);
  • 35% of our students are transfers, with the majority of those students transferring from Illinois community colleges;
  • 30% of our undergraduates are Pell Grant eligible;
  • 35% of our undergraduates are first generation college students.
  • Eastern is increasingly diverse.
  • Since 2004, students of color have grown from 9% of our student body to 15% in 2009;
  • In 2008, 26% of freshman applicants were students of color. By 2009, that percentage increased to 36%;
  • Since 2008, 29% of tenured or tenure-track faculty hired were minorities (10% African American, 16% Asian, 3% Hispanic) and 50% of these hires have been women;
  • HBCU Connect Magazine named Eastern as the #6 organization in their Top 50 Employers List. This is based on Eastern’s recruitment of HBCU students and alumni, brand penetration in the HBCU community, and relationships with HBCU organizations.

Eastern students are engaged.

  • In 2008, over 4,200 students participated in service projects;
  • On average, EIU students annually complete approximately 50,000 hours of service;
  • Our students are engaged with numerous organizations including, but not limited to: Special Olympics, Amigos and Friends, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, CASA, and Catholic Charities.

Eastern students, employees, and alumni are succeeding. Here are just a few examples:

  • Chemistry professor Sean Peebles was awarded the prestigious Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in recognition of his work with students and for leading undergraduate research efforts;
  • Will Hine, Dean of the School of Continuing Studies, was given the Past President’s Award from the Illinois Council of Continuing Higher Education in February of 2010;
  • In 2009, Eastern had the second largest number of student presenters at the National Council on Undergraduate Research annual conference;
  • In a recent survey, 48% of Eastern graduates indicated that they had obtained a graduate degree or were currently working toward a graduate degree. Our alumni satisfaction rate is 99%. We are the number two provider of public school teachers in Illinois.
  • WEIU-TV Newswatch staff was awarded a Mid-America Emmy for best student news production;
  • When compared with students from other public institutions in Illinois, EIU graduate accountancy students had the highest average score on 2 sections of the CPA exam (in addition to being 2nd and 3rd in the other two categories);
  • A team of undergraduate students from the Health Studies Department won a national case study competition at the annual conference of the American Association for Health Education.

Eastern is green.

  • We have begun a $79 million project to construct a Renewable Energy Center and to retrofit existing buildings to make them more efficient, and no state funds will be needed to finance the project;
  • This project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000 metric tons each year, the equivalent of taking 3,600 cars off the road;
  • Eastern has twice been named College/University Partner of the Year in the Environmental Protection Agency WasteWise Program that focuses on recycling;
  • ESCO projects completed since 1995 have allowed the university to save $2.3 million in annual utility costs;
  • We are also working with our local agricultural community to investigate the creation of a local biomass market that will create new economic opportunity in Coles County and the region.

Eastern is creatively funding growth and actively managing expenditures.

  • We will have renewable energy center, textbook rental center, and expanded Student Success Center construction projects completed without using any appropriated funds;
  • Eastern has instituted a hiring freeze, equipment purchasing freeze, limited travel, and decreased expenditures on non-safety related maintenance to address economic challenges;
  • Our recent ITS re-organization will save the university approximately $800,000;
  • We’re actively identifying more organizational opportunities to restructure in a way that saves money.

Eastern Illinois University is committed to providing world class educational experiences for students. The aforementioned accomplishments would not have been possible had we not strategically and creatively identified methods to support our growth. By working effectively and efficiently, the university has created new infrastructure, programs, and positions that directly and positively impact students.

There is a partnership between our university, our students, and the state. Our employees and students have worked diligently to advance the university during this time of economic hardship that is adversely affecting our state. Historic levels of GRF per FTE funding have required that the university place utmost importance on efficiency and effectiveness. In my opinion, Eastern provides an exemplary return on investment to the state.

The current economic climate demands that we find creative ways to maintain accessibility and affordability. Our economy also dictates that new solutions will be needed to facilitate further growth. We have reached a crucial time in public higher education when business as usual will not keep us moving in the right direction.

As you consider the impact that increased budget cuts will have on the future of our state and the futures of thousands of students. Please remember that an investment in Eastern Illinois University, and higher education as a whole, represents a demonstrated commitment to improving the economic and social fabrics of Illinois.

I offer this testimony as evidence in support of further investment in Eastern. We have approached problems analytically. We have made strategic decisions that emphasize efficiency and effectiveness. We have succeeded because we work tirelessly to assure that taxpayer dollars are used in a way that most directly supports students.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak today and for your commitment to supporting our university. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.