from the Illinois Board of Higher Education

July 8, 1998

Contact: Ross Hodel, 217/782-2551


New Century Planning Initiative Launched for Higher Education

HOFFMAN ESTATES - The Illinois Board of Higher Education has launched a major planning initiative designed to carry colleges and universities into a new century with a Citizens Agenda that focuses on the consumers of higher education - students, employers, and taxpayers.

The Board voted without dissent Tuesday to embrace eight strategic goals proposed by Executive Director Keith Sanders as the first step in a process to engage a broad range of citizen involvement in preparing a new century agenda for the state's colleges and universities.

"This is very much a work in progress," Sanders told the Board in introducing the plan. "It contains some old friends such as access, affordability, underrepresented groups, quality, and productivity, and some new ideas elevated to the status of important strategic goals, such as educational attainment, responsiveness of institutions to consumers, and strengthening the relationship with our K-12 colleagues."

The Board's action Tuesday formally set in motion a series of surveys and other mechanisms to measure satisfaction with colleges and universities and their graduates and to identify the most pressing needs of students and employers and ways higher education can help meet them. Surveys will be conducted of graduating seniors, employers, the general public, and opinion leaders.

To get the dialogue started, Sanders set forth eight preliminary strategic goals:

Board members suggested they want the ultimate plan to be a forceful expression of an agenda that will serve the public. "I don't want the document to be watered down to please everybody," Board Chairman Jerry D. Blakemore said. And Board member Robert English urged that the plan take on a sharper focus as it is developed into an agenda "that will be the Board's mantra."

Sanders said the Board would not act on a final Citizens Agenda until December, "so we have time for a long and thoughtful discussion of these strategic goals." In addition to commissioning opinion surveys, the Board will engage business leaders, civic organizations, representatives and trustees from public and private colleges and universities, advisory groups, and others in critiquing, analyzing, and refining the Citizens Agenda initiative.