By Courtney Westlake
The University of Illinois Springfield kicked off the 2009-2010 academic year with a Convocation ceremony on Thursday afternoon, August 20.
Provost Harry Berman welcomed UIS' 21 new faculty members and introduced them to campus, while Chancellor Richard Ringeisen spoke about UIS' accomplishments over the past year and its goals for the future.
"We always have a choice about how we’re going to approach any year," Ringeisen said. "I choose optimism, while being realistic. I choose gratitude for the resources we have, instead of anxiety about what we still want. I choose to be hopeful about the future, and I think we have good reason to be."
Ringeisen began his presentation by highlighting many examples of excellence from UIS graduates, including a recent graduate who was also the first in his family to graduate not only college but high school as well.
He reflected a lot about the past year and the way the public has begun to view UIS. He announced that after last year's U.S. News and World Report listed UIS as the fourth best public in the Midwest for 2009, the 2010 report was released today and UIS achieved the same ranking.
"That establishes us as a top flight public university," he said.
He also touched on UIS becoming a Division II school in the NCAA, being placed on the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the university's recent acceptance into the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), among many other achievements from the year.
"You may have seen the COPLAC announcement, but what you didn’t hear was the evaluators say to Provost Berman and me that UIS might be the most exciting university in the nation right now, because of everything we’re doing and where we’re heading. It’s why I’m so optimistic and choose to look ahead today," he said.
Ringeisen challenged everyone to pause and "to see ourselves as others see us," he said.
"We’re on the rise. We’re on the journey. I am tempted to declare that we have arrived, three years after finalizing our strategic plan with a bold vision and lofty goals," he said. "In many ways we have arrived – when you see us as others see us."
The state budget hit the university hard this year, Ringeisen noted, but said it's a time to remember "my favorite analogy: 'When a ship is in a storm at sea, you don’t shut the engines down.'"
This year will give UIS the opportunity to continue to focus on its top three goals - academic excellence, enriching individual lives, and making a difference in the world - in addition to focusing more on its fourth goal, strengthening the campus culture.
New faculty and staff hires, new investiture ceremonies for faculty, the creation of customized Web sites called portals, new openings of universities centers, the upcoming celebration of the 40th anniversary and a new Public Safety Building were all highlighted by the Chancellor.
"I commend you for all of your work that has led to the recognition we are now receiving. We don’t do what we do for the recognition, of course; we do it for our students, so that they will have the best possible educational experience," Ringeisen said. "But if you see UIS as others see us, you know this is an institution on the rise."
Watch convocation at