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WIU Looks to Become More Innovative

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University’s president used the annual State of the University address to renew his commitment to making the school stand out from other colleges.

“Just like our founders, we must be ready to meet the challenges that we face," said Dr. Jack Thomas.

“As leader of this institution, I refuse to allow this university to be viewed as anything less than a first rate institution of the highest quality."

Thomas said this will require Western to continue to have vision and forethought and not settle for the status quo, and he said the university needs to be more innovative.

“We must identify ways to be more, to do more and gain a competitive edge. “We simply cannot do things as we have done before," said Thomas, pointing out Western constantly competes with other schools for students.

Credit Western Illinois University
WIU President Jack Thomas delivers the 2014 State of the University address

President Thomas' speech

Thomas said he’s forming a committee of university leaders to focus on developing at least 10-15 better practices and cutting edge approaches to student recruitment and fundraising efforts.  

“We must be certain that our institution has the ability to remain relevant in this ever changing world,” Thomas said.

“We must resist becoming paralyzed with complacency, if complacency is left unchecked it becomes mediocrity, then it becomes endemic and negatively affects the entire university.”

He said Western would benefit from higher enrollment and more money for student scholarships.

Thomas also boasted that Western has climbed in the U.S. News and World Report’s Regional Universities Rankings.

The speech was given on the anniversary of the first day of classes at WIU.  In 1902  the school operated out of a single building, Sherman Hall, and was called Western Illinois State Normal School.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.