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June 18, 2004


SPRINGFIELD - Daniel J. LaVista, Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) since May 2002, has announced his acceptance of a similar position with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

His new position, LaVista said, will offer "a number of professional and personal satisfiers, and I look forward to realizing them as I work with others to help advance Virginia's higher education agenda."

LaVista said he has enjoyed his tenure at IBHE "during a time of significant and diverse types of change" and said he remained "proud of the work we have done together as members of the Illinois higher education community." He joined the IBHE from the presidency of McHenry County College in the midst of a state fiscal crisis virtually unparalleled in history.

James L. Kaplan, Chairman of the Board of Higher Education, echoed LaVista's sentiments. "Dr. LaVista has served during one of the most tumultuous times that higher education has faced in Illinois. I congratulate him on this new opportunity and wish him well in his future endeavors."

John Peters, President of Northern Illinois University and convener of public university presidents and chancellors, said that Virginia's gain is Illinois' loss.

"Dan LaVista has been an able and adept leader for Illinois higher education," Peters said. "During these exceedingly difficult economic times, Illinois has been fortunate to have such a calm, thoughtful, and resourceful guide for its system of colleges and universities. He has the respect of all public university presidents and chancellors. Dan has served with grace and good humor, with honor and distinction, and Illinois will miss him."

During LaVista's two-year tenure in Illinois, the Board has focused on issues of affordability, diversity, and accountability. A joint IBHE-Illinois Student Assistance Commission study highlighted a growing gap in college affordability for families in the lower economic strata and recommended a comprehensive list of measures that the state, campuses, and parents could take to help ensure that finances are not an insurmountable hurdle to a college education. A study of faculty diversity revealed a need to improve processes for recruiting and retaining minority faculty at colleges and universities and has led to legislation now before the General Assembly to revamp and strengthen two minority graduate incentive programs aimed at placing minority graduates in Illinois higher education faculty positions. The Board has led a study of administrative expenses at public universities which led to a reallocation of nearly 20 percent of such resources to teaching, learning, and other core mission activities over the past two years. It also recently established a new study committee to review university missions, academic programs, and faculty productivity.

LaVista will take the helm of a system with 15 public, four-year institutions, 24 community colleges, and more than 100 private and out-of-state institutions.


Don Sevener



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