State of University Address

Retiring president delivers last address


Rut Ortiz

President Sharon Hahs shares the well-being of NEIU before her retirement at the end of September.

Rut Ortiz, News Editor

Hahs began her speech by thanking and expressing her appreciation for and congratulations to the newly tenured faculty and various departments for the work that has been contributed to the success of the university in addition to the campus police for earning departmental accreditation.

“So what is the state of our university? How are we doing? Are we making progress? What is our future?” Hahs said. “Of course I am acutely aware that in the absence of the state budget, the questions of how this is impacting our university are uppermost in everyone’s mind.”

She said the answers to these questions are part of NEIU’s strategic plan. This plan is composed of NEIU’s mission, goals, action steps and annual work plan. Undergraduate enrollments continue a declining trend in spite of the new student enrollment slightly increasing. Hahs said that the source of the decline is inability to retain continuing students, which she thinks is likely due to the budget impasse.

Hahs said she attributes downward trends uniquely to the lack of a fiscal budget that the university has had to deal without for approximately two fiscal years. The budget for fiscal year 2016 is nonexistent and the current fiscal year 2017 budget has had temporary funds allocated to it from stopgap funding.
Hahs said positive information in the form of increasing graduate enrollment and intake of credit hours is showing an upwards trend while the number of new freshmen is up for the first time in four years.

“New transfer student enrollments are up slightly and that is also a good sign,” Hahs said. “So we will continue our recruitment work and at the same time we must provide strong support for these new students to continue with us and to graduate.”
Graduate degrees conferred are at their highest in four years and fiscal year 2016 was the third highest year of degrees conferred in NEIU’s history according to Hahs, while fall-to-fall retention of first-time full-time freshmen between 2007 and 2016, however, trended downward.

“First year retention is a reflection, not a nature of overall retention,” Hahs said. “This is something that has happened and we must work to address it as best we can.”