Karla Hughes addressed a capacity crowd in the Old Main Room at Illinois State University on Monday. (Photo By Paul Morello/WJBC)
By Paul Morello
NORMAL - The first of four finalists for Illinois State University president was on campus Monday for a public forum.
Karla Hughes is vice president for academic affairs at Morehead State University. Prior to coming to Morehead in July 2007, Hughes served as the American Council on Education Fellow at East Carolina University.
She said one of her guiding principles in education is the belief that a university can address any challenge.
"If we work together, create and share a common vision, openly communicate, learn to appreciate what we each bring to the table, and maintain a sense of humor, we can accomplish anything," she said.
Hughes spoke to a capacity crowd in the Bone Student Center's Old Main Room Monday afternoon.
She said one of ISU's biggest challenges over the next few years will be the state funding situation.
"Even with decreased state support, the accountability is going to increase," she said. "So I think rather than waiting for it to happen to us, we have to understand what the landscape is and begin talking about what to do."
Despite state funding issues, Hughes said Illinois State has continued to succeed, largely because it has not overextended itself.
"While other institutions of this size are concentrating on increasing enrollment and focusing on becoming premier research institutions, you have created this very special university where shared governance, student success, community service, teaching, faculty scholarship and undergrad research are priorities," she said.
As Illinois State reaffirms its commitment to athletics with the Hancock Stadium renovation project, Hughes said athletics must remain the university's "front porch."
"There are many people who hear about the institution through athletics that may never hear about it otherwise," she said. "I love basketball. I love football. I love to win and I think it's a very important aspect of the student experience."
The next candidate, Murray State University President Randy Dunn, will be on campus for a public forum Wednesday, April 24 at 2:30 p.m.
Paul Morello can be reached at email@example.com.