Accomplishments and Achievements
2007 - Present
Strategic Planning Process
President Hahs initiated a very participatory process of developing a strategic plan and then of implementing it on an annual basis. The plan has many steps, including clear goals, measurement procedures and a new mechanism for connecting planning and budgeting (the University Planning and Budget Council). The planning process is successful on many fronts. 1. It meets and exceeds the call that the Higher Learning Commission made after its visit in 2007 that NEIU develop such a plan. In fact, the HLC commended the plan when it was submitted to them a year ago. 2. It has provided practical guidance to faculty and administrators over the last three years. 3. It has greatly increased participation by faculty and staff in the determination of priorities for the University.
President Hahs has been a good steward of resources. As a result of taking a conservative approach to budgeting during this difficult time in state funding, the University has avoided furloughs and significant budget reductions such as those at other Illinois public universities. The academic life of the university has not been affected by the fiscal crisis that has hit many institutions hard. In fact, the number of graduates has increased significantly. In addition, major grants have been awarded to the University through the NEIU office of sponsored programs. Most notable are two Title V grants from the U.S. Department of Education in the amounts of $3.5 million and $2.6 million. Title V grants are awarded to eligible Hispanic-Serving Institutions seeking to enhance and expand the institution’s capacity to serve Hispanic and low-income students. These grants provide funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional stability, management, and fiscal capabilities of the institution.
Increased Graduation and Retention Rates
During the President’s tenure, the University has strengthened efforts to monitor and improve student success. Among the steps necessary to do this have been improvement of the Office of Institutional Research, development of the First-Year Experience Program, and the offering of additional course sections. As a result, both retention rates and graduation rates have improved.
Development and Fundraising
President Hahs reallocated money and created a Vice Presidential area to support institutional advancement and development efforts. President Hahs’ decision to create an Institutional Advancement area has strengthened the marketing, public relations, development, and alumni relations functions of the University. President Hahs has built a new culture of philanthropy, and giving to the University has increased significantly. Most recently, the University celebrated the renaming of the Science Building to Bernard J. Brommel Hall. Dr. Brommel (M.A. ’82 Family Communication, Guidance, and Counseling), who is a longtime friend, faculty member and alumnus of Northeastern Illinois University, is the University’s first $1-million donor. He recently committed another seven-figure gift through his estate plan to establish and underwrite an endowment to maintain, enhance and renovate the building. Not only has giving to the University increased significantly with the leadership of President Hahs, she has also helped strengthen and build the NEIU Foundation through the recruitment of three new diverse members to the Board.
University Advocacy Efforts
During the last few years, President Hahs has greatly increased the University’s visibility in Springfield. The position of Director of Governmental Relations was established and that person and the President have both become well known among legislators and staff. As a result, there is increased awareness of NEIU’s distinctive place in higher education in Illinois and we have received dedicated funds to support new initiatives. The most dramatic of these include the release of funding for a new education building, the Pedroso Center and state appropriations related to our Hispanic Serving Institution federal designation. These funds will have a major impact on the University and will allow many improvements that were not feasible earlier because of space and funding limitations.
President Hahs initiated a partnership with the USDA Hispanic Serving Institutions National Program. The director of the Midwest Regional Office has been at NEIU since July 2009. This USDA program promotes the continued growth of Hispanic enrollment in higher education through partnerships with colleges and universities across the country. The regional office at NEIU is the only one in the Midwest. Many opportunities for Northeastern students and faculty have already been created through this partnership. Most recently, the USDA awarded a fellowship to an NEIU faculty member and also chose a group of six Northeastern students to attend the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities conference in San Diego.
Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs
With the establishment of the Pedroso Center, NEIU has institutionalized its long tradition of supporting the diverse cultures present in the University. The creation of this center was in response to a major student campaign expressing this as their number one want and priority on campus. President Hahs met with a number of student groups and other interested campus entities to help conceptualize the center.
More Financial Aid for Students
President Hahs led the University through a revision of the overall process of awarding financial aid. Through the President’s decision to allow the provision of University funds to support financial aid, students are now receiving more financial support. For example, this Spring, 2011, NEIU established Golden Eagle Performance Scholarships to be awarded to students who meet academic performance standards, eligibility requirements for Illinois Monetary Award Program (IMAP) and did not receive an Illinois Monetary Award Program (IMAP) because funds were exhausted. These efforts in the area of financial aid are being noticed across the nation. Northeastern was recently recognized by U.S. News and World Report as having the lowest percentage of students graduating with student loan debt in the nation and students graduating with the lowest amount of debt in the Midwest.
Additional NEIU Programs at the University Center in Lake County
While NEIU has long offered a small number of graduate programs at the University Center in Lake County, the University has embarked on a process of growing several undergraduate majors at the University Center in Lake County. This initiative responds to the call of the Illinois Board of Higher Education to extend degree completion programs in association with community colleges and it is supported by a Title V grant awarded jointly to NEIU and the College of Lake County. By the time the grant ends, NEIU will be offering four undergraduate majors at the University Center: psychology, accounting, political science and a degree in education. The grant also lays the ground work for developing the University Center as a “fourth campus” for NEIU and increased access to a rapidly growing area in northern Illinois.