Monday, November 13, 2017

Susan Koch: ‘Reaching Stellar’ with positive momentum

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 11, 2017.

Thanks to the talent and dedication of faculty and staff and the generosity of our many supporters, the University of Illinois Springfield has created positive momentum that is evident today everywhere you look — the largest graduating class in history last spring, new and expanded majors whose graduates are contributing to the regional economy, exceptional performing arts programs that enhance the cultural life of the community, and a beautiful campus on the south side of Springfield where a new Student Union will open in January. 

The contributions of members of our academic community will undoubtedly continue to add value to the campus; but just a few weeks ago, we also launched an exciting new initiative that will take UIS toward even greater excellence and greater impact for our community, our state and beyond. 

It’s “Reaching Stellar,” a $40 million campaign that is part of the most ambitious fundraising effort in University of Illinois history. Dr. Jeff Lorber, Vice Chancellor for Advancement, is leading the campaign which has already raised more than $18 million. 

“A comprehensive campaign like ‘Reaching Stellar’,” says Lorber, “enables the campus to develop strategic priorities that, with donor support, will help ensure the future success and expanded impact of the university. At the same time, when donors contribute to specific projects that interest them, the vitality and quality of life of the entire community is enhanced.” 

And speaking of leadership, the “Reaching Stellar” campaign committee is co-chaired by two exceptional community leaders — Arthur “Hy” Bunn, President and CEO of Bunn-O-Matic Corporation, one of Springfield’s most important corporate citizens, and Saul Morse, of counsel at Brown, Hay and Stephens, the oldest and one of the most highly respected law firms in Illinois. 

“UIS is providing the educated citizens and skilled leaders for the future of our community at the same time it improves the culture of our area,” says Morse. “I’m proud to know that, through my involvement with the campaign, I’m assisting in building one of the true gems in the area and the state.” “I was honored to be asked to co-chair the ‘Reaching Stellar’ campaign,” adds Bunn. “I believe strongly in the leadership and mission of UIS. The campaign is critical to the long-term success of the university and the quality of its value proposition.” 

A planning process involving faculty and staff as well as alumni and members of the Springfield community has identified key priorities for the campaign. Increasing scholarships and enhancing academic excellence are two of those priorities. 

 Building and renovating needed facilities for our growing campus is another important priority. 

One of the most exciting priorities for the campaign is the new Center for Lincoln Studies. 

In a recent editorial in this newspaper, the SJ-R noted UIS is “the perfect place” for the national base for scholarship, teaching and public history about Lincoln’s life, leadership and legacy. We’re excited to see the many ways the Center for Lincoln Studies will enhance understanding of the life and times of the 16th president and we look forward to the significant contributions it will make to the overall excellence and impact of the university. 

With the support and loyalty of both old and new friends and with contributions large and small, I’m confident the “Reaching Stellar” campaign will accelerate the positive momentum of UIS and enable the university to expand its impact on the community as well as on generations of students to come. 

Read the entire column online.