Springfield Campaign Priorities
The Campaign priorities represent the areas of most interest to each campus: where they will invest private support and how they will focus their efforts over the next five years to meet individual visions for the future. Across the University, the priorities emphasize support for people (students, faculty) and programs, although new and renovated facilities are also included.
Delivering Academic Excellence
Achieving an even higher degree of academic excellence is our top Campaign priority. Our growth—new four-year programs and a larger freshman class—demands more resources. But we are committed to finding a balance between our expansion and the need to maintain the personal learning environment that has distinguished our campus.
Indeed, Springfield has always been a place where excellence in academics and innovation intersect. During our earliest days as Sangamon State, a small group of passionate professors cultivated an atmosphere that was flexible, informal and intimate, but one distinguished also by rigorous instruction and cutting-edge research. And since then, we’ve carefully cultivated a learning environment that’s much more like a small, independent liberal arts school than a large public university: classes are small and students and professors truly get to know one another. In fact, an unusual number of alumni fondly recall close relationships with professors and credit them for their personal and professional success.
At the heart of maintaining this environment as we grow is finding and keeping great faculty. We are relying on the Campaign to help us expand faculty in multiple academic departments, centers, and programs. With more endowed chairs and professorships, we can attract the best faculty even in the increasingly competitive recruitment environment. We also hope to develop 100 or more new scholarships in our Capital Steps program and upgrade our library to a level befitting a great university with long-overdue renovations and an endowment for essential acquisitions.
Creating Experiences that Enrich Individual Lives
We hope to acquire some of the key assets and student resources historically associated with top-tier liberal arts universities: new degrees in the fine arts, larger performance studios, an endowment for new performances at our auditorium and an expanded athletic program. At the same time, we’ll build on our already strong student service opportunities by developing an Experiential Learning Institute and Student Affairs Leadership Program
These investments build on our strengths. At Springfield, our smaller size and long-standing commitment to practical experience—a philosophy typically found in small liberal arts colleges—translates into many meaningful, “real-world” learning and service experience for our students, such as our Applied Study Term and legislative internships, to name a few. We’re just small enough so that all of our students have a chance for experience-based learning: a biology major, for example, might conduct risk assessment with conservationists at our Emiquon Wetlands Field Station, or intern with the EPA in its Springfield headquarters. And on campus, enrichment takes the form of dozens of cultural and social opportunities, such as the Visual Arts Gallery and over 60 world-class music, dance, and theater performances at Sangamon Auditorium. And we can’t overlook the benefits of enhanced campus resources on local residents: the programs that enrich our students’ lives also create a cultural oasis for our downstate community even as it undergoes significant economic and demographic change.
Making A Difference in Our Community, Our World
We will make a significant difference in our community and nationwide by becoming a leader in civic participation. We plan to start by making sure that our outstanding current programs—like the Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series—have the support necessary to continue. But we also need to take the next step by launching the Illinois Democracy Project—a new framework for the many campus programs and research projects focused on revitalizing our democratic institutions. Civic engagement will remain the cornerstone of our undergraduate general education.
Just minutes from our campus is the historic Old State Capitol, where Abraham Lincoln grew into the leader who would later preserve the Union. Springfield remains the heart of Illinois government and home to many of the organizations and government branches that shape our lives. That’s just one reason our College of Public Affairs and Administration is one of our strengths—students can intern in the governor’s office, the state legislature, or with the many government bodies that do their work here.
In all of our colleges, our legacy of civic participation drives our research and instruction. We’ve embraced an increasingly broad notion of social action: it includes strengthening the judicial process, jumpstarting local business, and restoring critical natural environments. In our business college, the Center for Entrepreneurship provides support for Illinois business owners. Scientists and naturalists from all over the world come to our Emiquon Field Station to study our wetlands restoration efforts along the Illinois River. And in our Center for State Policy and Leadership, we’re deepening knowledge about public affairs. Thanks to our generous supporters, great work is being done in these areas and these projects are poised for national recognition. We now look to the Campaign to sustain and expand these projects: increased faculty, student support and facilities improvements will allow us to make these and other programs stronger and more visible.