About John G. Peters

Dr. John G. Peters
Eleventh President
Northern Illinois University 

Sept. 30, 2002
Carl Sandburg Auditorium
Holmes Student Center

Thank you, Ivan, and thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your time and attention this afternoon.

It's hard to believe, but this is my third State of the University Address! Even harder for me to grasp is that it's actually been a year since the last one - we have certainly been through a very busy, challenging 12 months, and last fall seems like last week to me.

In any event, it has been a year, and it is time once again for me to address the campus community about the state of our institution: To take stock of its progress, celebrate accomplishments and try to give you some sense of what I see coming in the next 12 months and beyond.

We have much to celebrate - wonderful new facilities, scholarly and research accomplishments, multi-million dollar grants, significant private gifts, new personnel in important positions, and much more.

In short, we have prospered in a very difficult year.

We also have some very, very difficult decisions ahead of us in light of worsening budget news from the state and the nation.

I want to talk about both kinds of news today, and to ask you to think along with me about how we can continue to take advantage of our institutional momentum in tough financial times.

NIU is at a crossroads, having already made some significant leaps forward in terms of prestige, strength and influence. At the same time, we face new realities on the economic and political front that will force us to reexamine priorities, recommit to our institutional mission, and, inevitably, to make difficult choices.

Enrollment:

Allow me to begin then, with the most basic, central and important part of our mission, and that is our students, whether they be undergraduate, graduate or professional.

Of all the things we know about the talented men and women who choose to study here, the one thing we can say without question this year is that there are many more of them!

We have just experienced the largest single-year enrollment increase in the last quarter century, and one of the largest in NIU history.

At nearly 25,000 total students this year, we have gained more than 1,000 additional students since last I spoke with you here. The largest percentage of that increase is among undergraduates, and most of them are living and learning here on the main campus in DeKalb.

In talking with our Admissions Director, Bob Burk, as well as others who track and analyze these trends, it's clear that there are a number of explanations for this increase: demographics, the economy, post-9/11 issues. Those are all playing into increased enrollment at state universities throughout Illinois.

But NIU's growth this year was unprecedented. Only UIC in Chicago saw a larger increase. What Bob and his staff of student recruitment experts are seeing is a definite "buzz" about NIU, and a clear increase in demand for the NIU experience.

This is clearly not something that happens by accident. We have done a much better job over the past few years in telling the NIU story, and our physical campus improvements are leaving a much better impression on prospective students here for campus visits.

As a quality indicator, increased demand and higher enrollment has many positive benefits. It is a testament to enhanced popularity; it does provide additional tuition revenues; it allows us to better fulfill our mission in the region; and it enhances our ability to attract ever-more talented students.

This fall, our regularly-admitted new freshmen had an average ACT score of 23.1, up slightly from last year's freshman class. Likewise, the average new NIU freshman graduated in the top third of his or her class, and the number of new freshmen who qualified for our Honors program also increased significantly.

Incidentally, we have just named a new director of our Honors program, and I'm happy to see that he is with us here this afternoon. For those of you who do not know Michael Martin, he has a long history of involvement in honors-level courses, and has served on our faculty in Health and Human Sciences for nearly 20 years. Michael, will you please stand and be recognized.

Michael, thank you for your commitment to making the educational experience as meaningful and challenging as possible for some of our most talented students.

So we are not only attracting more students, but also greater numbers of academically-talented students.

At the same time, we are maintaining our commitment to serve students in our region who have, through no fault of their own, been disadvantaged in their pre-collegiate education. This commitment has a long and proud tradition at NIU, and continues to produce well-qualified graduates for leadership positions throughout our region.

And so we find much to celebrate in a greater demand for the NIU experience, but I don't have to tell you that we have been challenged in accommodating more students with fewer resources.

In accepting more students this fall, we have reaffirmed something essential about NIU - a focus on mission that includes both quality and access.

A key component of access is cost, and I applaud our Board of Trustees for all they have done to keep costs down for our students. At the end of the day, when all the public universities in Illinois had completed tuition adjustments for the year, NIU came out with one of the lowest tuition hikes in the state - and I might add, the BOT only set tuition rates once.

I applaud our faculty and staff for their heroic efforts in accommodating this record number of new students at NIU. We have held fast to our priorities and have kept academic quality solid during our recent budget troubles.

Every part of the university saw budget cuts, but we were able for the most part to spare actual job eliminations. Some vacancies went unfilled and some graduate assistantships were discontinued, but we were able to minimize the effects of this shortfall on our students.

We were able to increase the number of sections of core competency and gen ed courses, and in some cases increased the size of those sections to accommodate the growth in our undergraduate population. Most importantly, and in keeping with our priorities, Provost Legg and his staff tell me that we have protected our ability to give students all the classes they need to graduate in four years if they are on that track.

We've been able to schedule classes more efficiently this year with the full-scale introduction of online registration - something that the majority of our students immediately took advantage of.

The online registration program allows students to not only see whether a class is full, but also offers alternative times and dates for the same class to facilitate full scheduling.

It also ensures that classes are of more equal size, meaning that we're being more efficient in our use of facilities - what Fred Kitterle calls "just-in-time scheduling," to borrow a popular term from industry. Most importantly, though, it is clearly a case of technology serving the needs of our students.

At the same time, people are behind all technological improvements, and this one's no exception. Don Larson and his staff in Registration and Records have made online registration work. And people like Joe Grush and his staff in LA&S have helped students understand how to use it and trained staff on how to take advantage of the up-to-date information it provides.

This summer, LA&S staff made sure that online registration was part of the orientation program, and no new student left orientation without a full fall schedule in hand. Don and Joe, on behalf of all the staff who have made it easier for our students to get the classes they need … I know Joe Grush couldn't be with us today, but Don is here … Don, will you please stand and be recognized.

Provost Legg and his staff have been studying enrollment issues closely over the past year.

As a first step toward establishment of a more formal enrollment management program, they recently consolidated all enrollment-related services under one umbrella. Don Larson is now coordinating the work of Admissions, Financial Aid, Registration & Records, Retention Services, Community College Relations and other key areas to create a seamless web of services for both prospective and currently-enrolled students.

So we've come together in real, important ways to meet the needs of our students this year, and I know we will continue to seek out new efficiencies, greater convenience and better service.

But, all that said, we've clearly reached a point where we must have additional state resources to support this level of enrollment growth.

From what we see in demographic projections, it looks as though demand for NIU will only continue to grow over the next few years. Some of the added expenses that come with enrollment growth are covered by increased tuition revenues, but not all, and not by a long shot. We must remember that tuition revenues cover less than 50 percent of the total cost of instruction.

More to the point, as these larger freshman classes move through the system and as greater numbers of community college students transfer to NIU to complete their baccalaureate degrees, greater demands are placed on our academic programs. Now our growing student body needs not just access to more core competency and gen ed courses, but also to more limited upper division courses.

We must continue to make the case for additional state resources, and we must continue to look for ways to increase efficiency without sacrificing quality.

I want to take this opportunity to send a very clear message about enrollment and about this administration's thinking on the subject:

Growth for growth's sake is not a goal we embrace.

Growth that matches institutional and program goals, growth in areas with capacity for additional students, growth that meets the needs of specific groups of students, growth in a few exciting and essential academic areas, and growth that is matched by increased resources has been and can continue to be positive for this university.

But undirected, indiscriminate increases in raw student numbers is not our goal.

At nearly 25,000 students, we may have reached the limit of our current resources, both human and financial. I will be, over the next few months, engaged in serious discussions with our governing board and our campus leadership about this issue.

We will be looking closely at our centers of excellence, our programs with capacity for growth, the needs and levels of academic preparedness of our students, and our mission in this region as we search for the right way to manage increased demand for the NIU experience.

Budget:

At the very time when our students and our region need us most, we are at our lowest level of state financial support. Last fiscal year we endured a $13 million shortfall. We saw important new initiatives put back on the shelf, positions frozen, salary increases foregone.

We've had to redefine "good news" in this environment: At least we didn't have layoffs. At least we have been able to maintain an acceptable level of academic quality. At least we've been able to help students get all the classes they need.

And I don't mean to denigrate any of those accomplishments. On the contrary, I think what faculty and staff on this campus have done in response to these budgets cuts has been nothing short of heroic.

At the same time, I know - you know - we all know - that there have been trade-offs, and that we're holding our collective breath to see what the coming year brings.

From what I'm hearing, the short-term outlook is fairly grim. State revenues still aren't back on track. A recent report from Illinois Economic and Fiscal Commission says we face another $300-$500 million shortfall in the current fiscal year, and possibly as much as a $2.5 billion hole in the year that begins next July 1. This is on a state general revenue base of approximately $53 billion.

All of this, of course, against a backdrop of state elections next month, and the inevitable adjustments that take place during transition periods.

What are we to do, as a campus community, to prepare for these challenges?

First of all, I think it's important to put this in perspective. Following September 11, an already-shaky economy plummeted, and 40 states around the nation were plunged into budget crises. From California to Virginia and everywhere in-between, state economies are struggling, and state universities are tightening their collective belts.

We are not alone.

It is a revenue problem for the state, and, I believe, the long-term solution will be revenue-driven. But short-term, we need to prepare for the possibility of additional budget cuts, possibly a mid-year rescission, and heightened attention on the part of elected officials to issues of access, cost, responsiveness and accountability.

As I pointed out in my campus budget messages earlier this year, the use of one-time utility savings and other short-term cushions spared this campus from the more personally devastating effects we have seen elsewhere in higher education and in the larger economy.

Those dollars and those options may not be available to us this year and next. Further cuts will require a more targeted response than last year's budget reduction approach.

If we are required to take additional spending cuts in our appropriated general revenue fund, we will have to cut deeper, and we will have to be guided by the institutional priorities that preserve our core mission and continue our momentum.

I'd like to say that again: Further budget cuts at NIU cannot be taken "across the board." They will be enacted in accordance with our institutional priorities and guided by a commitment to maintaining our momentum.

That said, we will continue to work with our elected officials to tell the NIU story, and to emphasize the commitment to efficiency and accountability that permeates the NIU culture.

Accountability/Leanness:

I want to say a word here about accountability. Many of you know that election-year dialogue has touched on the issue of administrative costs at Illinois' public universities. If you saw the Daily Herald story on this subject, you saw that NIU was listed as having the lowest administrative costs of any state university.

That didn't surprise me - I've found in my nearly two-and-a-half years here that NIU is very lean on the administrative side, and well-served by the demonstrated efficiencies and no-nonsense commitment of its faculty and staff.

The same IBHE study quoted in the newspaper article showed NIU near the top - third, to be exact - in percent of total budget going toward faculty salaries. I think that, too, is a confirmation of appropriate institutional priorities and a commitment to the core mission of this university.

In that context, I would simply reiterate that no matter what financial woes we have to deal with in coming months, we will not deviate from the core principles we established a year ago. We will do all we can to ensure that the quality of our students' education is not compromised; we will do everything we can to avoid layoffs or salary reductions; and we will under no circumstances compromise the health and safety of our campus community.

Civility:

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that the goodwill and internal cohesiveness of our NIU faculty and staff is the most critical resource we have. It is going to be more important than ever this year to uphold our standards of civility and collegiality in our relationships with each other. It is easy in tough times to turn our frustrations inward, but to do so is a zero-sum game.

Maintaining our momentum this year will be a challenge, but it can be done with collaboration, innovation, excellence and efficiency. We need to maximize the value of every individual employee if we are to maintain our identity as a premier institution of higher learning.

Outreach:

When I spoke to you in my first State of the University address two years ago, I described NIU as an institution of national prominence with a significant impact on the Chicago region and the greater northern Illinois area.

I urged us to become the nation's premier regional public university - a prototype for the successful public university of the future.

This is an agenda I continue to believe we can achieve. Last year, I brought several of our externally oriented units, including our regional centers, together in a single, new Division of University Outreach.

Over the past several months, staff in those units have been involved in an intense planning process, designed to articulate a long-term vision and establish strategic priorities for the division.

Some of the major recommendations stemming from that process will be announced within the next few weeks. Central to all of them will be the concept of "engagement," by which I mean the kind of relationship building that will be key to developing partnerships that anticipate and address the needs of our region.

Northern has a long history of engagement with this region. One of our newest outreach partnerships is our program with Rock Valley College. As you may remember, we launched this initiative in January with the goal of providing increased opportunities for baccalaureate degree completion for part-time students juggling college with work and family responsibilities.

This fall we enrolled 263 students in 16 courses in 7 different programs. Our efforts have been very well received in Rockford and are being watched with interest in Springfield. They speak to important access issues and affirm our historic role in the Rockford area.

I very much appreciate the leadership of Dr. Anne Kaplan and her team, as well as the cooperative and expeditious work of deans, faculty and staff that has brought this program along so far and so fast.

Activities of this sort are important. Indeed, in the climate in which we are now operating, they may be critical. I do not see us increasing our share of the funding available for higher education in Illinois unless we can show area legislators and the citizens of northern Illinois a real regional return on that investment.

Perhaps no one has understood these issues better than our own Pete Trott, long-time Director of our Center for Governmental Studies. Pete will be retiring this year and will be much missed, but he leaves behind a unit known throughout the state for its programs in economic and community development, workforce development, social welfare studies, mapping services, demographic studies and planning assistance.

The Center has partnered with the IBHE, the State Board of Education, the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Governors' Association, municipal agencies throughout the region, and a long list of area foundations, regional associations and individual businesses and industries.

I commend Pete and his staff for their vision and commitment to the public purposes of a public university.

External funding:

Our engagement within this region, state, nation and world is increasingly well-supported by government, agencies, foundations and individuals.

I mentioned in my first and second State of the University addresses that I thought we could and should seek even more external funding for our important missions, and today I would like to report on several ways in which that goal became reality over the past year.

Each year for last three years, we have worked hard to develop what we call a "federal agenda," that is, a priority funding list that includes the most promising research projects on campus.

Last year you may recall that we sought and obtained multi-million dollar grants for physics, nursing and the Family Violence Center. This year, I'm able to announce three more important grants we have received, two of them with the direct assistance of Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert.

But before I announce those initiatives, I'd like to ask Brian Harbin, of Speaker Hastert's office, to please stand and be recognized. Brian, on behalf of the entire NIU community, we would ask that you convey to Speaker Hastert and your colleagues our sincere thanks for their support of these important projects.

First, I would like to announce that we have received a $2 million federal grant to establish the "Laboratory for NanoScience, Engineering and Technology."

Headed by Distinguished Research Professor Clyde Kimball in our Physics Department, this lab puts us on the cutting-edge of research into what many believe will spur the next technological revolution.

Whereas scientists today can place a million transistors on a single computer chip, for example, nanotechnology holds the promise for a billion transistors on a single chip.

Creation of nano-scale mechanisms and machines could revolutionize almost any industry imaginable, from computers to medicine to telecommunications.

This technology, however, requires a thorough exploration of a vast, new frontier. Our NIU researchers, and importantly our students in physics and engineering, will study, develop and apply materials for potential use in nano-scale devices. They will be among the pioneers exploring our world at the quantum level. This is the absolute smallest level of existence, where the standard rules of physics and nature are often turned upside down.

I'd like Clyde Kimball and engineering Professor Alan Genis, who also is heavily involved in this new initiative, to stand and be recognized. Clyde and Al.

The second major federal grant I would like to announce at this time is a $500,000 grant to establish the Laboratory for Structural Analysis and Computer Modeling.

The lab's high-tech instrumentation allows scientists to determine how materials such as large protein molecules, new synthetic compounds and small nanotechnology devices are constructed at the atomic level.

While the lab is a boon to researchers on campus, our students are now learning how to use the most advanced analysis and computer-modeling tools in the nation. Most of our graduates will join the high-tech work force in Illinois while a smaller, but significant, number will go on to teach in Illinois high schools and community colleges. In numerous ways, then, this laboratory promotes the development of a strong high-tech economy in the region.

Dr. Jim Erman of our Chemistry Department could not be with us today, but certainly deserves much of the credit for spearheading this effort.

Finally, we just learned this week that the Department of Literacy Education in our College of Education has received a nearly $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to work with school districts in our region - including the DeKalb school district - on bilingual education.

In addition to the federal funding announcements, there's also good news at the state level. Just last week, Gov. George Ryan tapped NIU to operate a new Illinois Technology Enterprise Corporation (ITEC) center, to be based jointly at NIU-Naperville and the technology park at DuPage Airport. The university is receiving $350,000 to run the center. Called WESTEC, it will assist technology-based start-up businesses and serve as an incubator for the high-tech ventures in the northern Illinois region.

We're happy to have the Illinois Institute of Technology as a partner in this project. And I'm also happy to introduce to you today Jerry Zielinski, whom we've named as the executive director of WESTEC. Jerry has 31 years of experience in technology commercialization at Lucent Technologies and AT&T.

Also on hand is Christy Snider, formerly of the Illinois Coalition, who is the new program manager for WESTEC. Could you both please stand and be recognized. Welcome to NIU.

The state and federal grants I've just mentioned were the result of special initiatives; but, of course, NIU is constantly receiving external grants through the hard work of our research faculty.

My first year here, I challenged the campus to double the amount of externally-funded research by the year 2005, and I'm happy to say that we're continuing to make significant progress toward that goal. In the fiscal year that just ended, NIU increased its total amount of external funding from $38 to $45 million. Since I issued my challenge in 2000, external funding has increased by one third, so we are well on our way.

As a top-ranked Carnegie research institution and member of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, NIU's commitment to research is firmly entrenched in our mission and institutional culture. Today I would like to announce an organizational change that I believe will further underscore that commitment.

With the full concurrence of our Board of Trustees and widespread support from the campus community, I am today elevating the top research position on our campus to the title of Vice President of Research and Dean of the Graduate School. This new vice president will serve as a full member of my senior cabinet, and will report to the Provost.

As most of you know, we are currently engaged in a search for this position. We are greatly aided in that endeavor by a well-known and well-respected campus leader who has agreed to fill the job on an interim basis. I'd like to acknowledge him now. Dan Griffiths, will you please stand. Dan, thank you for your leadership and commitment to NIU, its long tradition of shared governance and its history of commitment to research and scholarly endeavors.

Just a few weeks ago, this campus witnessed the transformational power of a private gift. I'm talking, of course, about the grand opening of our new College of Business building, Barsema Hall, made possible by a $20 million gift from alumnus Dennis Barsema and his wife, Stacey.

Private fundraising at NIU has emerged from "extra help" status to full partnership as a critical component of our external funding mix. In spite of market downturns, we continue to make great strides in this area as we continue in what is known as "the quiet stage" of our first-ever capital campaign.

This past year we raised more than $12 million, exceeding our goal by more than half a million dollars. I have been personally involved in a number of interactions with major donors this year, and have been very impressed with the growing level of commitment on the part of our alumni and friends to be part of our campaign and part of NIU's exciting future as the Midwest's premier regional public university.

Two recent gifts exemplify that commitment. We recently received a $1 million gift from the estate of Janet Finney to our School of Nursing. The gift has been added to the Harold and Janet Medical Memorial Endowment, which was established some years ago after Mr. Finney received exceptional hospital care from one of our nursing graduates.

Another recent significant gift came from KPMG accounting firm. They have pledged a quarter million dollars to the College of Business to name the Accountancy Suite in Barsema Hall. The KPMG gift is one of 11 naming opportunity gifts in the new College of Business building, so we're very pleased with the ways in which Dennis and Stacey Barsema's gift has encouraged others to give as well.

I'm pleased to have in the audience today my good friend and advisor David Nelson, who is president of the NIU Foundation. David and his wife, Linda, will be our special guests tonight as we dedicate the new Nelson Suite at the NIU Convocation Center. David and Linda, will you please stand and be recognized.

Thank you, David and Linda. The work of the Foundation becomes ever more critical in these challenging times, and we deeply appreciate both your personal generosity and your leadership.

Celebrating Good News:

I said at the beginning of my remarks that I wanted to reflect on both our challenges and our successes over the past year, and it may seem that I've spent more time thus far on the challenge side. Yet the past year has given us much to celebrate.

Over the last six months (when we were NOT talking or thinking about budget problems) we have been anxiously awaiting and finally celebrating the openings of two of the largest building projects in NIU's history - Barsema Hall and the Convocation Center.

So much has been said about both facilities, and so many of you have experienced them first hand that I don't feel compelled to revisit their particulars at this time. But suffice it to say, if facilities are any measure of an institution's future, NIU is headed straight up. These two campus flagship buildings - one for learning, the other for building community - both these facilities are going to be hugely influential in the future of this university.

In both instances, dozens and dozens of people worked to make them a reality, but I'd just like to remind everyone here that the architect and overseer of all our campus building and beautification efforts is my good friend and advisor, Dr. Eddie Williams. He makes them happen, and I want to publicly thank Eddie and his staff for all their efforts. Eddie, will you please stand

When we weren't building buildings this year, we were busy building the reputation of this institution as a major research university. So many of our top faculty were honored this year in one way or the other that it's difficult to single out just a few, but I'd like to try:

Our English Department, headed by Dr. Heather Hardy, this summer ran a Fulbright American Studies Institute, funded with a $182,000 Fulbright grant. Dr. Keith Gandel led that prestigious study of American culture, the highlight of which was an appearance on this stage by the legendary author Studs Terkel.

Narayan Hosmane of our Chemistry Department continues to receive acclaim for his work on boron cancer therapy. Dr. Hosmane received the prestigious Humboldt Fellowship to study this semester in Germany.

Jerry Blazey of our Physics Department was just in the newpaper again this week as spokesperson for FermiLab's D-zero project. D-zero has drawn the world's top scientists to Fermilab, and when that prestigious group needed to elect a public representative for the project, they chose Dr. Blazey. That is a huge honor, and we are extremely proud to have Jerry on our faculty.

Mathematics professor Biswa Datta was recently elected to the Academy of Nonlinear Sciences. The prestigious Russian academy is considered the world's top organization for leaders in mathematics, mechanics, control theory and modeling. There are fewer than 200 members of the academy worldwide.

Ross Powell of NIU's Geology Department is leading a new, multi-million dollar drilling expedition in Antarctica. Dr. Powell and his international colleagues are studying climate records buried between the frozen sea for new information on global warming.

Long Mao, a researcher who came to NIU just over a year ago to head our unique Bioinformatics unit, quickly made headlines this year as part of a team that has cracked the genetic code for rice. Mao and his colleagues have opened the door for huge advancements in agricultural science that could lead to enhanced food crops worldwide.

Professor of educational research Paul Ilsley is currently in Finland on a Fulbright Fellowship, studying active citizenship. Dr. Ilsley was chosen to conduct a study on how the European Union will affect Finland's citizenship structure.

I could go on for several more pages, but as I'm running short of time, I'll stop there and simply ask that those of you I mentioned who were able to join us here today, would you please stand and accept our recognition on behalf of all NIU's outstanding faculty.

The people I just mentioned have earned just a small fraction of the many honors heaped upon our faculty over the past twelve months. I know that we will continue to see this level of excellence in research and scholarly work, and I pledge to do whatever I can to continue institutional support for their work.

Not only do faculty members like these bring honor to their university, but they bring fresh knowledge and excitement to the classroom as well.

I'd like to introduce two more outstanding individuals to you at this time.

After more than 20 years in a wide variety of roles at NIU, Dr. Sylvia Fuentes has assumed the role of Director of the University Resources for Latinos. She comes to this role at an important time in the life of our university, as our Latino enrollment continues to soar. Sylvia, will you please stand and be recognized.

Thank you, Sylvia.

It's increasingly clear that universities must lead the way in our society to create understanding among people of different cultures. Creating awareness of the larger world in which we live is the charge of our new Director of International Programs, and she is well prepared to meet that challenge.

Dr. Debra Pierce has embarked on an ambitious plan to increase international student representation on campus, and to increase the number of NIU students who study abroad. These are important goals in any era, but more so now than ever. Please join me in welcoming one of our newest campus leaders, Deb Pierce.

Thank you, Deb, and welcome.

The Future:

Clearly the next 12 - 18 months will not be easy for us. The spectre of worsening financial woes makes it tempting for us to adopt a "waiting out the storm" mentality. But of course we cannot and will not do that.

We've come too far, too fast to allow our vision to be derailed by short-term obstacles.

We're moving ahead, for example, with development of plans for a possible new Computer Science and Technology Center.

We're still moving forward in our planning for development of the far west campus.

We are aggressively pursuing a capital improvement agenda in Springfield to further upgrade and improve our campus, providing our students with access to best facilities and the most attractive environment possible.

We will continue to pursue resources and space for new services and programs our growing student body wants and needs. Among those initiatives is the proposed Asian Student Center, identified as a priority by the Asian Student Task Force I appointed last year.

We continue to press forward with our case for salary increase funds.

You have heard me say it before and I will say it again: Increasing faculty and staff salaries at NIU is my number one budgetary priority. It has been and it will remain so, through good times and bad.

We will continue to pursue our federal agenda in Washington as well, targeting all available resources to bolster our research and outreach programs.

And we will continue to press forward on all fronts, telling the NIU story and sharing our vision for the future.

We hold this university in trust for future generations. The decisions we make now, the steps we take and the progress we build on will re-create this university for a new generation of students 20, 30, and even 50 years from now.

The philosopher Horace wrote "Adversity has the effect of eliciting talent which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant."

I believe we will rise to the occasion this year, and will discover new strengths and talents we didn't know we had.

Thank you for sharing your strengths and talents with this university. Never forget we are doing important work here, and I appreciate all your contributions, good thoughts and leaps of faith.

Thank you.

I'd like to invite you to attend a short reception now in the Regency Room / outside in the Alumni Court by the fountain. We'll have refreshments and I hope some good conversation at that time. Thank you.