Daily Egyptian

Cheng fields strategic plan questions

By Karsten Burgstahler

Chancellor Rita Cheng answered university trustees’ questions during the public portion of Wednesday’s Board of Trustees executive session and presented a strategic plan update.

Cheng’s strategic plan updates the university’s former Southern at 150 plan, which the university created to strengthen the university in 2003. Cheng said Southern at 150’s goals included the employment of 100 highly qualified professors and a 25,000 student enrollment rate.

“When our accreditors came to do their 10-year review, they were very critical of the fact that we had not adjusted our strategic plan,” she said.


Higher Learning Commission accreditors requested the campus submit a progress report by August 2011 to address university financial planning as well as comprehensive departmental planning the accreditors said the university lacks, according to a PowerPoint Cheng presented to the BOT. Cheng said strategic plan updates for the BOT will be prepared when the accreditation team visits next spring.

Several focus groups designed a new university mission statement to target issues such as student success, campus community, diversity and inclusiveness, Cheng said.

“(Diversity) is something that everyone on campus holds dear,” she said. “We recognize the value that it brings to our faculty, staff and campus.”

Cheng said she plans to present a more complete plan during the BOT’s February meeting.

Trustee Donna Manering asked Cheng how far along plan implementation has come.

“We didn’t sit still and wait for the plan to be finalized word-wise before we initiated many of these things,” Cheng said. “But yes, we are moving along in many of these areas.”

Cheng said the campus planning and budget committee would align the budget to complete strategic plan goals.

After Manering asked Cheng how students and faculty feel about potential campus layoffs, she said morale can often be low when campuses must reduce their budget.

“I joked in campus meetings that I didn’t bring a $30 million deficit with me,” she said. “There wasn’t a backpack with surprises, and so that has created more work, more tension.”

Student-to-faculty ratios are still 15 to 1 despite the deficit, Cheng said, and faculty members still engage students.

“While we would like to have more money for travel, we would like to have more faculty hiring going on,” she said. “We feel that we’ve been able to do really incredible things with very few personnel adjustments.”

The Board of Trustees will meet for its full board meeting today at 10 a.m. in the SIU Student Center’s Ballroom B.


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