About Dr. James Applegate
Welcome to the Illinois Board of Higher Education
Welcome to the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE). Like our sister agencies in almost every state in the country, we are charged with leading efforts that ensure the Illinois higher education system (including public, private, and for profit colleges as well as private and vocational schools) are working together to most productively improve Illinois’ quality of life. We are guided by the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success: a ten year plan to raise education levels, improve college affordability, create a 21st century workforce, and create a vibrant economy (The Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success ; Five Year Mid-Point Report). The “north star” guiding our work is Illinois’ goal to have at least sixty percent of its workforce with a high quality college credential by 2025. That goal is non-negotiable since we know that nearly two-thirds of all open jobs in Illinois in the future will require such a college credential. Everyone to whom we deny that opportunity will very likely struggle as working poor.
To achieve that goal will require not only all of higher education working together but also will require cross-sector collaboration with business, community and philanthropic leaders, policy makers, P-12 education, non-profits, and advocacy groups across the state. Illinois law mandates that we lead in developing the strategic plans that bring these varied sectors together to engage in coordinated action that achieves the “60 by 2025” goal and the other affordability and economic goals in the Public Agenda.
If you spend time on this site you will see that in support of the Public Agenda the IBHE also is responsible for (a) developing the budget for higher education in Illinois, (b) reviewing and approving academic programs to ensure they are aligned with state needs and serve students well (a consumer protection role), and (c) maintaining Illinois’ higher education information system. In fulfilling that last responsibility we work to promote “data-based decision making.” Without good data higher education and policy makers are shooting in the dark. Nationally, too much of policy and program implementation is driven by anecdote and unproven, though often popular, ideas. The result is waste of precious time and resources.
Finally, the IBHE, in its effort to be a catalyst for innovation and improved performance, develops and administers grant programs. We find and focus these precious resources on new approaches to improve the diversity of our teaching force, better connect student learning to careers, and advance other priorities of the Public Agenda. Our goal is always to rigorously identify effective practice and scale those practices to serve Illinois’ students and improve their quality of life.