‘The sun is rising’

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WIU President Jack Thomas delivers positive outlook

MACOMB — On Thursday, members of the university community gathered in Western Hall for the first University Assembly and heard a message of positivity during Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas’ State of the University address.
Thomas referenced Benjamin Franklin’s quote regarding the sun cast on the back of the 1787 Constitutional Convention president’s chair.
The original Franklin quote states: “I have often … in the course of the session … looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.”
Thomas likened the future of Western Illinois University as that under a rising sun in the wake of the recent state budget impasse.
“The sun is rising on Western Illinois University,” Thomas told assembly attendees.  
“We have weathered some difficult days.  But through the midst of it all, we have created a solid foundation for future success.”
In a recent statement to the university community, Thomas stated the university must continue moving forward with “guarded optimism” in light of the recent governmental and financial woes.
Part of that includes preparing new goals for the administration.
According to Thomas, six goals for the 2017-2018 academic year include:
• Investing in high-growth and high-demand programs.
• Expanding educational opportunities, including new and enhanced academic degree programs.
• Enhancing recruitment and retention strategies.
• Expanding public service and community engagement efforts.
• Increasing external funding to limit cost increases for students.
• Continue mission-driven planning and fiscal management.

A hand-out presented at the assembly notes the annual impact of Western Illinois University on the 16-county region. Impacts include the generation of $473 million, 3,905 full-time and part-time employees, $226 million in labor income and $74 million in local, state and federal revenue.
Eight-nine percent of the university undergraduate students are from Illinois. The student makeup includes 61 percent as Pell grant eligible, 46 percent are MAP grant eligible, 42 percent are first generation freshmen, 20.9 is the average incoming student ACT score and 3.21 is the average incoming high school student GPA.
Regarding racial or ethnic makeup, 64 percent of students are white or caucasian, 11 percent are hispanic, 19 percent are African-American, one percent are Asian, and five percent are from the international community.
Thomas stated the FY18 fiscal year should receive $46.3 million in appropriations based on the state budget. He noted this is a 10 percent reduction from the previous FY15 full appropriation of $51.4 million. There is an estimated $10.4 million incoming for FY18 MAP funding. The state has appropriated $10.9 million to cover the FY17 MAP funding and an additional $20.1 million to raise the prior FY17 total to $59 million.
Students begin classes on Monday.

Reach Jared DuBach by email at jdubach@mcdonoughvoice.com.

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August 20, 2017 at 12:05AM

‘The sun is rising’

‘The sun is rising’

http://ift.tt/2vPnnna

WIU President Jack Thomas delivers positive outlook

MACOMB — On Thursday, members of the university community gathered in Western Hall for the first University Assembly and heard a message of positivity during Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas’ State of the University address.
Thomas referenced Benjamin Franklin’s quote regarding the sun cast on the back of the 1787 Constitutional Convention president’s chair.
The original Franklin quote states: “I have often … in the course of the session … looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.”
Thomas likened the future of Western Illinois University as that under a rising sun in the wake of the recent state budget impasse.
“The sun is rising on Western Illinois University,” Thomas told assembly attendees.  
“We have weathered some difficult days.  But through the midst of it all, we have created a solid foundation for future success.”
In a recent statement to the university community, Thomas stated the university must continue moving forward with “guarded optimism” in light of the recent governmental and financial woes.
Part of that includes preparing new goals for the administration.
According to Thomas, six goals for the 2017-2018 academic year include:
• Investing in high-growth and high-demand programs.
• Expanding educational opportunities, including new and enhanced academic degree programs.
• Enhancing recruitment and retention strategies.
• Expanding public service and community engagement efforts.
• Increasing external funding to limit cost increases for students.
• Continue mission-driven planning and fiscal management.

A hand-out presented at the assembly notes the annual impact of Western Illinois University on the 16-county region. Impacts include the generation of $473 million, 3,905 full-time and part-time employees, $226 million in labor income and $74 million in local, state and federal revenue.
Eight-nine percent of the university undergraduate students are from Illinois. The student makeup includes 61 percent as Pell grant eligible, 46 percent are MAP grant eligible, 42 percent are first generation freshmen, 20.9 is the average incoming student ACT score and 3.21 is the average incoming high school student GPA.
Regarding racial or ethnic makeup, 64 percent of students are white or caucasian, 11 percent are hispanic, 19 percent are African-American, one percent are Asian, and five percent are from the international community.
Thomas stated the FY18 fiscal year should receive $46.3 million in appropriations based on the state budget. He noted this is a 10 percent reduction from the previous FY15 full appropriation of $51.4 million. There is an estimated $10.4 million incoming for FY18 MAP funding. The state has appropriated $10.9 million to cover the FY17 MAP funding and an additional $20.1 million to raise the prior FY17 total to $59 million.
Students begin classes on Monday.

Reach Jared DuBach by email at jdubach@mcdonoughvoice.com.

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August 20, 2017 at 12:05AM

‘The sun is rising’

‘The sun is rising’

http://ift.tt/2vPnnna

WIU President Jack Thomas delivers positive outlook

MACOMB — On Thursday, members of the university community gathered in Western Hall for the first University Assembly and heard a message of positivity during Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas’ State of the University address.
Thomas referenced Benjamin Franklin’s quote regarding the sun cast on the back of the 1787 Constitutional Convention president’s chair.
The original Franklin quote states: “I have often … in the course of the session … looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.”
Thomas likened the future of Western Illinois University as that under a rising sun in the wake of the recent state budget impasse.
“The sun is rising on Western Illinois University,” Thomas told assembly attendees.  
“We have weathered some difficult days.  But through the midst of it all, we have created a solid foundation for future success.”
In a recent statement to the university community, Thomas stated the university must continue moving forward with “guarded optimism” in light of the recent governmental and financial woes.
Part of that includes preparing new goals for the administration.
According to Thomas, six goals for the 2017-2018 academic year include:
• Investing in high-growth and high-demand programs.
• Expanding educational opportunities, including new and enhanced academic degree programs.
• Enhancing recruitment and retention strategies.
• Expanding public service and community engagement efforts.
• Increasing external funding to limit cost increases for students.
• Continue mission-driven planning and fiscal management.

A hand-out presented at the assembly notes the annual impact of Western Illinois University on the 16-county region. Impacts include the generation of $473 million, 3,905 full-time and part-time employees, $226 million in labor income and $74 million in local, state and federal revenue.
Eight-nine percent of the university undergraduate students are from Illinois. The student makeup includes 61 percent as Pell grant eligible, 46 percent are MAP grant eligible, 42 percent are first generation freshmen, 20.9 is the average incoming student ACT score and 3.21 is the average incoming high school student GPA.
Regarding racial or ethnic makeup, 64 percent of students are white or caucasian, 11 percent are hispanic, 19 percent are African-American, one percent are Asian, and five percent are from the international community.
Thomas stated the FY18 fiscal year should receive $46.3 million in appropriations based on the state budget. He noted this is a 10 percent reduction from the previous FY15 full appropriation of $51.4 million. There is an estimated $10.4 million incoming for FY18 MAP funding. The state has appropriated $10.9 million to cover the FY17 MAP funding and an additional $20.1 million to raise the prior FY17 total to $59 million.
Students begin classes on Monday.

Reach Jared DuBach by email at jdubach@mcdonoughvoice.com.

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August 20, 2017 at 12:05AM

‘The sun is rising’

‘The sun is rising’

http://ift.tt/2vPnnna

WIU President Jack Thomas delivers positive outlook

MACOMB — On Thursday, members of the university community gathered in Western Hall for the first University Assembly and heard a message of positivity during Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas’ State of the University address.
Thomas referenced Benjamin Franklin’s quote regarding the sun cast on the back of the 1787 Constitutional Convention president’s chair.
The original Franklin quote states: “I have often … in the course of the session … looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.”
Thomas likened the future of Western Illinois University as that under a rising sun in the wake of the recent state budget impasse.
“The sun is rising on Western Illinois University,” Thomas told assembly attendees.  
“We have weathered some difficult days.  But through the midst of it all, we have created a solid foundation for future success.”
In a recent statement to the university community, Thomas stated the university must continue moving forward with “guarded optimism” in light of the recent governmental and financial woes.
Part of that includes preparing new goals for the administration.
According to Thomas, six goals for the 2017-2018 academic year include:
• Investing in high-growth and high-demand programs.
• Expanding educational opportunities, including new and enhanced academic degree programs.
• Enhancing recruitment and retention strategies.
• Expanding public service and community engagement efforts.
• Increasing external funding to limit cost increases for students.
• Continue mission-driven planning and fiscal management.

A hand-out presented at the assembly notes the annual impact of Western Illinois University on the 16-county region. Impacts include the generation of $473 million, 3,905 full-time and part-time employees, $226 million in labor income and $74 million in local, state and federal revenue.
Eight-nine percent of the university undergraduate students are from Illinois. The student makeup includes 61 percent as Pell grant eligible, 46 percent are MAP grant eligible, 42 percent are first generation freshmen, 20.9 is the average incoming student ACT score and 3.21 is the average incoming high school student GPA.
Regarding racial or ethnic makeup, 64 percent of students are white or caucasian, 11 percent are hispanic, 19 percent are African-American, one percent are Asian, and five percent are from the international community.
Thomas stated the FY18 fiscal year should receive $46.3 million in appropriations based on the state budget. He noted this is a 10 percent reduction from the previous FY15 full appropriation of $51.4 million. There is an estimated $10.4 million incoming for FY18 MAP funding. The state has appropriated $10.9 million to cover the FY17 MAP funding and an additional $20.1 million to raise the prior FY17 total to $59 million.
Students begin classes on Monday.

Reach Jared DuBach by email at jdubach@mcdonoughvoice.com.

01-All No Sub,02-Pol,03-HL 20,04-Pens 2,12-Coll,16-Econ,HE Blog,HE Coalition

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August 20, 2017 at 12:05AM

‘The sun is rising’

‘The sun is rising’

http://ift.tt/2vPnnna

WIU President Jack Thomas delivers positive outlook

MACOMB — On Thursday, members of the university community gathered in Western Hall for the first University Assembly and heard a message of positivity during Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas’ State of the University address.
Thomas referenced Benjamin Franklin’s quote regarding the sun cast on the back of the 1787 Constitutional Convention president’s chair.
The original Franklin quote states: “I have often … in the course of the session … looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.”
Thomas likened the future of Western Illinois University as that under a rising sun in the wake of the recent state budget impasse.
“The sun is rising on Western Illinois University,” Thomas told assembly attendees.  
“We have weathered some difficult days.  But through the midst of it all, we have created a solid foundation for future success.”
In a recent statement to the university community, Thomas stated the university must continue moving forward with “guarded optimism” in light of the recent governmental and financial woes.
Part of that includes preparing new goals for the administration.
According to Thomas, six goals for the 2017-2018 academic year include:
• Investing in high-growth and high-demand programs.
• Expanding educational opportunities, including new and enhanced academic degree programs.
• Enhancing recruitment and retention strategies.
• Expanding public service and community engagement efforts.
• Increasing external funding to limit cost increases for students.
• Continue mission-driven planning and fiscal management.

A hand-out presented at the assembly notes the annual impact of Western Illinois University on the 16-county region. Impacts include the generation of $473 million, 3,905 full-time and part-time employees, $226 million in labor income and $74 million in local, state and federal revenue.
Eight-nine percent of the university undergraduate students are from Illinois. The student makeup includes 61 percent as Pell grant eligible, 46 percent are MAP grant eligible, 42 percent are first generation freshmen, 20.9 is the average incoming student ACT score and 3.21 is the average incoming high school student GPA.
Regarding racial or ethnic makeup, 64 percent of students are white or caucasian, 11 percent are hispanic, 19 percent are African-American, one percent are Asian, and five percent are from the international community.
Thomas stated the FY18 fiscal year should receive $46.3 million in appropriations based on the state budget. He noted this is a 10 percent reduction from the previous FY15 full appropriation of $51.4 million. There is an estimated $10.4 million incoming for FY18 MAP funding. The state has appropriated $10.9 million to cover the FY17 MAP funding and an additional $20.1 million to raise the prior FY17 total to $59 million.
Students begin classes on Monday.

Reach Jared DuBach by email at jdubach@mcdonoughvoice.com.

01-All No Sub,02-Pol,03-HL 20,04-Pens 2,12-Coll,16-Econ,HE Blog,HE Coalition

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August 20, 2017 at 12:05AM

‘The sun is rising’

WIU President: “State of the University is okay”

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WIU President: “State of the University is okay”

Posted:

Thursday, August 17, 2017 6:24 PM EDT

The 2017 University Assembly at WIU in Macomb
The 2017 University Assembly at WIU in Macomb

MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) –

A roller coaster ride, that’s how the president of Western Illinois University described the state budget impasse’s impact on his student’s in an address on Thursday.

Jack Thomas summarized the state of the university as “okay,” but getting better because the state has finally approved a budget which will give WIU $46.3 million in state appropriations, but that’s still short about $7-million from what they’re used to budgeting, so they’re not out of the woods yet.

“So now we can begin to rebuild, however, we do know that we have to be very cautious and we have to be very fiscally conservative because we don’t know what the future holds,” Thomas said.

Thomas says the impasse made a big impact on the university. With two years of no budget, he said the university’s reserves are gone.

“Hopefully at some point, when the state continues to come through with funding and show us that it is going to continue to invest in higher education, then hopefully we can rebuild our reserve and put that back in place,” Thomas added.

Thomas also laid out plans to step up new student recruitment and the goal of stabilizing enrollment at 10,000 students.

.

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August 17, 2017 at 06:41PM

WIU President: “State of the University is okay”

MAP grants provide relief for NIU students

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DeKALB – In her first year at Northern Illinois University, sophomore chemistry major Racquel Vonch of Joliet was financially secure enough to survive without the assistance of a Monetary Award Program grant.

Heading into the 2017-18 school year, however, Vonch became one of thousands of Illinois undergrads who, reliant on the assistance program for low-income students, anxiously waited to see if the Illinois General Assembly would release MAP grant funding as part of an agreement to end the state’s budget impasse.

"I received good financial standing with NIU as a freshman and with the financial packet I had as a freshman, I was sold to the university," Vonch said. "I was worried about the budget and not getting a MAP grant or to come up with the money if I had to pay it back."

Unofficial numbers from the 2016-17 school year show that at NIU alone, 5,342 students were recipients of MAP grants, which amounted to more than $19 million in funding.

Their collective uneasiness was eventually ended by the passage of a full-year budget after the Democrat-controlled Legislature overrode Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s total veto of a budget plan that included a permanent tax increase and MAP grant appropriations.

If the Legislature did not approve a budget, Vonch said she likely would have had to pick up more hours at her pharmacy technician job at Jewel-Osco and set up a payment plan with the university. In spite of the unpredictable consequences of the budget impasse, however, Vonch said that nothing would have stopped her from attending the university she loves.

“I would’ve figured out a way to stay here,” said Vonch, who worked a summer internship for the university’s Office of Orientation and Family Connections.. “I love how close-knit everyone is and how everyone is able to give a helping hand. There could be a professor you’ve only been in class with for a couple of weeks and they instantly want to help you.”

NIU has had the good fortune of being able to fund MAP grants during the budget impasse, but has informed recipients that, should the state fail to fund the program, they may be on the hook for some or all of the grant money, which amounts to a maximum annual award of around $4,720.

NIU spokesman Joe King said students should receive their 2017-18 MAP grants on time, and the state has reimbursed the university for the grants from past years.

Had the MAP grant funds had not been appropriated for this fiscal year, Vonch said she probably would have had to resort to additional student loans, which she said could become burdensome ahead of three more years of college and pharmacy school.

“It’s one less loan that I don’t have to take out, which is always helpful,” Vonch said. “Now I’m not having to kill myself during the school year to come up with the extra money."

The MAP appropriation for fiscal 2018 is $401 million, compared with the assumption of $373 million the Illinois Student Assistance Commission used to originally estimate 2017-18 MAP grants.

“Because of this additional funding, ISAC will not only fully fund previously announced awards, they are planning to extend the cutoff date increasing the total number of recipients and to make adjustments to the eligibility formula,” King said.

In an email to students and staff after the passage of the budget in July, interim NIU President Lisa Freeman said the MAP grant funding will alleviate the stress on new and returning students reliant on the grants and allow them to focus on their educational goals.

“Even though we are grateful for the clarity and security provided by this latest action, it does not alter the fact that we have absorbed a funding shortfall of more than $65 million over the last three years,” Freeman said in the message. “We must continue the work to enhance the financial stability of NIU by increasing enrollment, becoming more efficient and aligning our resources with our priorities.”

A tool for students and families to calculate estimated MAP grant eligibility is available on the ISAC website.

Should the state of Illinois face another budget dispute that puts MAP grants in danger, Vonch said she’ll worry about it then.

“It’s always scary,” Vonch said. “I guess I’ll hit that path when I come to it. I don’t know what the financial situation will be then, so I’m just taking it a year at a time.”

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August 15, 2017 at 06:28PM

MAP grants provide relief for NIU students