February 24 & 25, 2021
10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Higher education was facing many challenges prior to COVID-19. These challenges include, but are not limited to, maintaining enrollment as student demographics shift nationwide; erosion of public confidence in the value of a college degree; growing social movements regarding social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion; access and affordability; and declining state support for public universities. The COVID-19 pandemic not only exacerbated these challenges but created new ones. For example, 86% of new international students were unable to enter the United States to begin or continue their education in FY21. Expenses related to COVID-19 such as new and enhanced technology, expanded cleaning, and the implementation of a COVID-19 testing program significantly increased expenses as revenue losses mounted and Illinois State, like nearly all universities, pivoted to teach in online modalities.
How best to navigate the challenges and opportunities above both in the short- and long-term is the goal of the proposed Academic Affairs retreat. Specifically, we will review these multilayered forces as they affect Academic Affairs and Illinois State University by identifying priorities and developing strategies for Illinois State to not just remain competitive, but to thrive in the post pandemic landscape.
In planning the retreat, the Provost's office recognizes that a considerable amount of work has already been done with respect to many of the challenges noted above. The retreat will leverage and build upon these initiatives.
The retreat will take place on February 24 and 25 via Zoom from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Invited participants will receive additional information in January.
In September 2020, the Provost's office created 10 working groups around 10 themes. Two themes: diversity, equity and inclusion and the post-COVID landscape cut across all working groups. A senior administrator from the Provost's office will lead each working group. To ensure full transparency and broad campus participation, key stakeholder groups including the Deans' Council, Academic Senate, Chairs and Directors' Council, student government leadership nominated members for the working groups. Several groups began meeting in October and will continue to do so until the retreat.
In sum, the retreat planning process is designed to be transparent, inclusive/consultative, and forward-looking. We will review lessons learned from not only the pandemic but from our current and past practices and build upon our strengths and opportunities to create a stronger, more competitive ISU.
Each working group will critically assess key issues related to their assigned theme(s). They will review the status of ongoing initiatives and plans, identify gaps, as well as policy and procedural impediments. Groups are especially charged with identifying best practices, considering future opportunities and establishing strategic priorities. Each group is required to pay special attention to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion as well as the post-COVID landscape. Working groups are also encouraged to collaborate across groups to identify areas of synergy and collaboration.
We are especially interested in the following illustrative feedback:
Please email all suggestions and comments to the working group leads or to Provost .
At the retreat, working groups will present key findings and deliberations from their group and invite comments from retreat participants. Our expectation is that each working group will identify and receive endorsement for three to five initiatives and strategic priorities related to their theme(s).
Following the retreat, the Provost's office will work with relevant stakeholders to decide on the best ways to implement the desired changes.