“This is a milestone for UIS and yet another indication of our growing national stature,” said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. “We have now taken our place alongside institutions that are recognized for being leading small public liberal arts universities.” He noted that UIS is the only COPLAC representative in the state of Illinois.
According to Dr. Berman, the central COPLAC value is to champion the cause of liberal arts and sciences education of superior quality in the public sector. “Member institutions include small public colleges and universities with strong national reputations, such as the College of Charleston, Evergreen State University, and Truman State University,” Dr. Berman said. “COPLAC institutions share UIS’ commitments to the centrality of general education for the baccalaureate degree; to relatively small classes taught principally by full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty; and to an intimate learning environment, where students can say ‘My professors know me’.”
Dr. Berman said that membership will enable UIS to communicate its identity more effectively to a range of stakeholders – students and their families, trustees, and academic colleagues in Illinois and around the country. It will also open up faculty development opportunities through collaborations with faculty at institutions that share UIS’ values.
UIS began exploring the possibility of membership after the university’s Strategic Plan was completed in January 2006. The plan included a Statement of Strategic Intent to become a leading small public liberal arts university. The rigorous process that followed included attendance at COPLAC meetings, deliberations by Undergraduate and Graduate Councils, open forums, passage of a UIS Campus Senate resolution, COPLAC Membership Committee site visits, and submission and approval of an application.
“UIS now has national recognition for its 40-year commitment to the public sphere,” said Dr. Karen Moranski, associate vice chancellor for Undergraduate Education.
The 2006 Strategic Plan charts the following trajectories for UIS over the next ten years: 1) Development of new liberal arts-related minors and majors, such as Music, Theatre, and Modern Languages; 2) Larger cohorts of freshmen; 3) Increasing numbers of residential students; 4) Additional faculty to serve the new student population; and 5) Continued internal leadership in the application of technology to learning.
The other COPLAC institutions are: College of Charleston (South Carolina), Eastern Connecticut State University, The Evergreen State College (Washington), Fort Lewis College (Colorado), Georgia College & State University, Henderson State University (Arkansas), Keene State College (New Hampshire), Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Midwestern State University (Texas), New College of Florida, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Sonoma State University (California), Southern Oregon University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, SUNY College at Geneseo, Truman State University (Missouri), University of Alberta, Augustana Campus, University of Maine at Farmington, University of Mary Washington (Virginia), University of Minnesota, Morris, University of Montevallo (Alabama), University of North Carolina at Asheville, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, University of Virginia’s College of Wise, and University of Wisconsin – Superior.