USI seeks innovative ways to increase student success and graduation rates. The University must ensure that students reach their educational goals in a timely way, which will assist the state in raising its educational attainment level— something state officials believes will lead to improved economic well-being.
Financial barriers to higher education are very real. Although USI offers the lowest tuition of any four-year public institution in Indiana, higher education still is out of reach for many potential students. These students, many of whom are working full-time and supporting families, need access to scholarships and other forms of financial aid to realize their dreams.
The University seeks to endow fully the current meritbased programs: Presidential Scholarships, Deans Scholarships, and B/MD (Baccalaureate/Doctor of Medicine) Scholarships, which attract top students. USI also plans to offer new types of scholarships and financial assistance to deserving students. An expanded scholarship and financialaid program will help highly motivated students for whom costs are a barrier. As the state has shifted more responsibility to students to pay for their education at state institutions, students must work more, making it more difficult to complete their academic work in four years. In 2010, 40 percent of freshmen and 70 percent of seniors worked off campus to help pay for college tuition and/or to be able to live away from home while at USI. By reducing student's work burden, these scholarships will improve graduation rates. (Strategic Plan Goals #1, #2, #3)
USI seeks to ensure that all students have access to experiential learning through internships, service-learning projects, independent research with faculty, and study-abroad programs. Scholarships for study-abroad opportunities and stipends for unpaid internships and direct student aid also will be funded. In addition to supporting students, funds are needed to operate a central office where staff can identify, promote, coordinate, and evaluate student experiential-learning opportunities. (Strategic Plan Goals #1, #4, #5)
Although USI has a fast-growing theatre program and one of the few in which students work directly in Actors' Equity productions, it lacks a theatre on campus—and the off-campus facility soon will fall to highway expansion. In addition to $13 million approved by the state and $1.5 million budgeted by USI, the University needs another $2 million to furnish and equip its new 300-seat theatre and provide practice laboratories and classrooms to teach both design and production. (photos) It will allow USI theatre students to take their craft to a new level and provide a venue for high-quality productions that will contribute mightily to the greater Evansville-area's cultural diversity and the University's outreach to K–12 education. (Strategic Plan Goals #1, #4)
Students living in USI residence halls receive many benefits from trained staff and counselors, but the University needs to extend similar services to those who live off campus and who constitute nearly two thirds of its student population. With competing demands of work, study, and family, contemporary students need access to services around the clock and on weekends. USI seeks to provide quiet, safe places for study, academic computing, and team learning to help these students maximize their educational experiences among classes, labs, co-curricular activities, jobs, and families. These programs will result in richer college experiences and increased graduation rates. The trend toward lifelong learning mirrors the explosion of technology and information of this century. To adapt, individuals need to remain engaged with an institution of higher education for a lifetime. The University of Southern Indiana seeks to accommodate the continuing education needs of its alumni by establishing programming to encourage ongoing learning opportunities. Alumni would be eligible once every three years for specific free programming which might include professional development, a first graduate course, continuing education units for professionals, and other educational courses as requested by alumni. These courses could be offered on campus, online, or in a hybrid form, varying in length from one day to one semester. (Strategic Plan Goals #2, #3, #6)