Chairman Burke, Vice Chair Soto, Minority Spokesman Brady, and Members of the Appropriations Committee:
Good morning. Thank you for having me here today. My name is David Glassman and I am the President of Eastern Illinois University. I’m pleased to share with you that we remain in 2018 the top ranked Illinois public regional university according to U.S. News and World Report – a distinction we have held for more than 5 years running. We don’t just do a lot of good – we do the most good.
Today marks my 3rd spring to come before you and my first appropriations hearing outside of the recent budget impasse. Despite public universities’ reputation for being slow-moving and change-resistant, EIU has been quietly going ahead with the hard work and tough decision-making necessary to move ourselves forward – sooner rather than later. We have significantly reduced our own operating costs, maintained low administrative spending, fine-tuned programmatic offerings, developed linkages with community colleges, and maintained a laser-like focus on our role as an Illinois institution of access.
I know you are all tired of reading about “administrative bloat” and “executive buyouts.” So am I. And I am also tired of all of us getting painted with the same broad brush. EIU was found, by the Auditor General’s 2013 management audit, to have the lowest per capita administrative spending of all Illinois public universities. Additionally, the Auditor General identified EIU as having the highest percentage allocation devoted to instruction amongst all residential public universities – a figure which would be even higher now than it was when this report was issued.
This brings me to reduced operating costs. Between cuts I implemented immediately upon taking this position to remedy a $12M structural operating deficit and further reductions necessitated by the budget impasse – the annual operating budget of EIU has been reduced by $33.6M or 14% in less than 3 years. These cuts were not easy. They impacted our entire campus. Yet although challenged, I am proud that we were able to strategically manage our academic operations during the impasse to allow our high quality of educational excellence to be maintained for our students.
Many of you have expressed an interest in the state universities doing a better job of aligning programmatic offerings to student demand and workforce need. One of my first acts as President at EIU was to call for a Vitalization Initiative specifically aimed at better positioning EIU to serve the students of Illinois going forward. From those recommendations we have phased out three programs and developed 12 new programs in market driven, workforce need-based areas. In addition, we have matched several of our graduate programs with online versions to accommodate the many Illinoisans who wish to pursue an advanced degree, but are place-bound and need the flexibility that comes with online formats. The result of these and other efforts provide for a predicted double-digit increase at EIU for first-time, full time freshman in Fall 2018 over the present year.
We have entered into nearly 200 linkage agreements with Illinois Community Colleges in order to provide for seamless transfer pathways and completion partnerships. A significant portion of our students at EIU are community college transfer students. I enjoy a strong relationship and an open discourse with the presidents of our top feeder community colleges and fully understand and support that we must work together, not against each other, to improve opportunities and outcomes for all Illinois students. I believe we are, but I also believe we can do more.
Finally, I come back to our #1 ranking by U.S. News and World Report. How was it achieved? Well, most of our classes have less than 30 students, almost all of those classes are physically taught by PhD faculty members. We graduate our students at a rate exceeding our national peers by more than 12%. And taking into consideration EIU’s student demographic profile of 41% first generation, 32% minority and 22% whose Expected Family Contributions are ZERO, this graduation rate is extraordinary.
But while we are proud of those numbers -- the real value we add for the State of Illinois can be found in each of our graduates. It’s that EIU student who wasn’t sure how he would get through college but found a job in the evenings loading trucks at the local UPS facility, and impressed them enough that they hired him after graduation -- now he’s the president of UPS Asia. It’s the student who became a teacher after being inspired at her high school and returned there after graduating from EIU to teach future generations in the same classrooms where she once sat. It’s the young man who, when he was growing up, was asked by his father at the dinner table every night what he did to help others that day. He earned a degree in zoology from EIU and today he’s one of our nation’s top oncologists. Or the young entrepreneur, inspired during his time at EIU, who opened a thriving business based in Vernon Hills, Illinois, and now sells his products at nearly 20,000 locations nationwide.
Public higher education is not the selling of a product, it is a strategic investment in people. And the investment consistently pays off at a high rate of return. EIU is proud to provide exceptional opportunity and value not only for our students but for the taxpayers of Illinois and we thank you for your support in our endeavors.
Thank you. I will be glad to answer any questions.