NORMAL Ill -- Illinois State's new president made his first State of the University address Thursday afternoon explaining that while the school is experiencing improvements academically, it's still faced with several challenges.
Timothy Flanagan highlighted a list of accomplishments by the University, which include an almost 3% increase in the graduation rate over five years. It is now up to 72%.
Flanagan added that the average GPA and ACT test scores for the freshman class have also increased slightly.
However, he said on-campus enrollment has dipped due to competition of border states.
Flanagan also noted the University has significantly less state funding at $74-million.
Funding for ISU has not been this low in 15 years.
"We need to do some work in building a fund-raising organization that is capable of carrying us through a campaign," said Flanagan. "We will learn more about that as we go through the planning phase and so forth. In terms of the first order case that you make for support, I think we make a very compelling one. Investing in public higher education is one of the best investments that individual donors and states can make."
Finance and Planning officials at ISU also announced the start of construction on a new Fine Arts Center.
The $54-million state-funded project may take the place of Centennial East and West and the Center for Visual Arts building.
They are currently in the design process which will take about two years to complete.