Public Accountability Report Public Accountability Report

Board of Higher Education
(Appropriated Spending in Thousands)
  FY 2021 FY 2020
Reporting Programs Expenditures Headcount Expenditures Headcount
Illinois Board of Higher Education $ 34,045.8 33.0 $ 11,714.8 33.0
Totals $ 34,045.8 33.0 $ 11,714.8 33.0

Amounts may not sum to total due to rounding.

Agency Narrative

A Thriving Illinois

Over the past century, Illinois’ world-class higher education system has changed millions of lives and made our state an economic powerhouse. Our higher education institutions support students to become the next generation of thinkers, leaders, and researchers who contribute to communities, culture, service, and democratic society. Employers, too, value and hire graduates who are adept at critical thinking, solving complex problems, working on diverse teams, and who are civically engaged.

Higher education institutions also serve as the cultural and social anchor of their communities, often offering access to theater, art, music, lectures, and sports. Institutional clinics and medical facilities lead world-renowned research and care, serving those close to home and those from far away. Faculty across our colleges and universities engage in teaching, scholarship, and research that creates new knowledge, pushes the bounds of innovation and artistry, and advances technologies.

Our universities are leaders in fundamental, basic, and applied research, whether it is in areas as diverse as high energy physics that involves collaboration among public universities and national laboratories, the impact of severe weather on agriculture, or best practices for trauma-informed teaching. The societal benefits of the research enterprise are now being recognized in the worldwide effort to combat COVID-19.

Universities contributed through epidemiological modeling, development of the rapid saliva test, invention of emergency ventilators, new treatments, and the development of vaccines, as well as providing health care through hospitals and clinics. Our community colleges prepare students for careers in every industry in the state, lead the country in preparing students for transfer into four-year institutions, and connect directly with Illinois’ K-12 system to promote the seamless transition into higher education. Community colleges are intimately connected to their local employers, reaching 9,500 employers across the state and providing career instruction in over 4,000 programs that position students to earn a living wage, advance in their careers, and meet the local workforce needs of their communities.

Higher education institutions have shown that they have the power to take on the world’s problems, offer paths towards transformative change, and create better futures for individuals, families, and communities that make Illinois thrive. A thriving Illinois has an inclusive economy and broad prosperity with equitable paths to opportunity for all, especially those facing the greatest barriers.

To sustain a thriving state, we must create a more equitable reality. For too long, African American, Latinx, low-income, and rural students, and working adults, have been left behind. Together, we must change that. Illinois has the diverse human capital base to drive economic growth and a higher education system to ensure the diverse workforce has the tools necessary to lead our growing economy. Educational equity and economic growth are inseparable. Now is the time to realize this vision of a thriving collective future for individuals, families, and communities across Illinois through educational paths to drive toward equity, sustainability, and growth.

A Plan Developed for the Future but Grounded in the Present

The Illinois Board of Higher Education planned to launch the strategic planning process in early 2020 with a focus on equity. However, the planning process was put on hold as the state, and the world, focused on health and safety. Institutions pivoted quickly to remote learning to keep students on track and to new operating models to keep employees safe. Later that spring, the world was shocked by the killing of African Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. We decided we had waited long enough to begin the strategic planning process that would elevate the role and outline the steps for higher education to close equity gaps and bring us closer to a truly thriving Illinois. We launched the strategic planning process in Fall 2020. While strategic planning was underway, in Spring 2021, we were shocked by the killing of women of Asian descent in Atlanta. This added even more urgency to our work. Now, as we prepared to release A Thriving Illinois, major changes to higher education policy were proposed by President Biden and are being contemplated at the federal level, including two years of free community college; subsidized tuition at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) for families making under $125,000; grants to MSIs to build capacity and to prepare graduate students for careers in health; and expanding funding for future teachers, special education teachers, and teachers seeking additional certifications. The President’s proposals also call for universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds and investments in the early childhood workforce. Each of these proposals, if adopted, would mean fundamental changes to higher education. While the strategic plan could not have anticipated these federal changes, the strategies outlined are closely aligned with the federal goals and mean Illinois will be well positioned to be a national leader. The impact of A Thriving Illinois will be felt not just in higher education but throughout the state.

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