NEIU President Hahs Speaks on State of University

Patrick McIntyre, Staff Writer

photo by Emily Haddad


Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) held its annual State of the University Address Sept. 18 in the Auditorium. To a full house, university President Sharon K. Hahs presented topics focusing on NEIU’s current conditions and future in the current unstable economy.

The struggles of a stagnant student enrollment in the 2012 fall semester set the tone for the speech. “Enrollment has taken a dip from last year and from the year before. While they are still reasonably high, we must work to understand what is occurring, and take actions to restore the general upward trend,” President Hahs said when referring to the current unofficial enrollment levels. Positive signs included NEIU’s increased freshman and transfer enrollment and the overall number of degrees conferred, the greatest number of graduates in the school’s history.

State appropriation for the fiscal year 2013 decreased six percent, a loss of $2.4 million for NEIU. Increased tuition revenues of $4.5 million are anticipated if NEIU maintains the current level of enrollment, potentially offsetting the initial loss in funding.  Unfortunately, due to the NEIU Board of Trustees’ decision to hold off on initiating a tuition increase, overall revenue has been $1 million less than the previous year. A more conservative spending plan will be implemented as a result, President Hahs said.

Looking forward, President Hahs spoke optimistically about the university’s reputation for excellence. Her comments were due largely to the recent Newsweek college ranking, which placed NEIU in the top 10 schools for best investment. “Certainly…it’s a celebration of our urban mission, the quality of our programs, and the success of our graduates.”

The continuation of NEIU’s Innovation Initiatives will be the fall semester’s focus. Part one of “Imagine the Possibilities—Innovation Summit” took place this past summer semester, dealing with the ongoing challenges of higher education in an economically and socially volatile climate.  Part two, “University Colloquium on Creativity, Innovation and the Future,” will take place Nov. 2. This initiative will focus on answer questions such as “What is our vision for Northeastern for the next five years? How are we vulnerable and what do we do about it?” President Hahs said the university will use these questions as the foundation for the next step, which is planning for the spring semester.  Part three of the Initiative, “University Roundtables,” will take place in the spring, with details to come.

One prominent boost to NEIU’s curriculum is the possible implementation of a doctoral program.  “For the University’s first initiative, the College of Education will employ the services of a consultant during the spring semester, 2013, to explore the feasibility of a doctoral program in special education.”  For the past few years, Northeastern has investigated the potential for doctoral programs.