Date: December 7, 2011
Contact: Eric Matanyi
Governors State University
Phone: (708) 534-4044
For Immediate Release
Governors State to Admit First Freshman Class
University Park, Illinois, December 7, 2011 – Yesterday the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) voted to approve the proposal by Governors State University’s Board of Trustees to add lower division programming to the university’s upper division and graduate offerings. GSU will enroll its first freshman class in August 2014.
“GSU’s decision to admit freshmen beginning in 2014 is historic and transformative. By designing a state-of-the-art freshman program, GSU will increase its already significant commitment to the Illinois Public Agenda. For the first time in our 42-year history, we are now poised to serve Illinois as a full, comprehensive, regional university,” said Dr. Elaine P. Maimon, President of Governors State University.
GSU is currently the only exclusively upper-division and graduate public university in the Midwest, with coursework beginning at the junior level. While the establishment of upper-division universities was a national trend in the 1960s, most of these institutions are now full-service institutions. GSU’s decision to become a full four-year university is an active response to the region’s need for new options for quality, affordable public higher education. “Illinois will increase the percentage of its citizens with bachelor’s degrees only if we create new, high quality pathways to degree completion,” said Maimon.
The university will develop a cohort of 270 full-time, day-time freshman students to be admitted in Fall 2014. GSU projects the eventual enrollment of as many as 625 freshman students each year.
Admission of freshmen is consistent with GSU’s mission, values, and strategic plan for growth. Recently released statewide data on high school student admission to four-year public universities and community colleges have shown clear demand for public higher education in Chicago’s south suburban region as well as throughout the rest of the state, and GSU is well-positioned to meet this demand.
The university has the infrastructure to support a freshman class. A majority of the university’s courses are held during the evening to accommodate its large constituency of non-traditional students. Even with GSU’s growing population of full-time undergraduate, daytime students, classroom space is still widely available in the morning and early afternoon.
GSU’s recruitment of freshmen will encourage two pathways to degree completion: direct admission to GSU as a freshman under the program approved by IBHE on December 6; or admission to a community college with a plan to complete the associate degree before transfer to GSU or to another university under GSU’s existing Dual Degree Program (DDP). “We are gaining national recognition for our Dual Degree Program with eight local community colleges. Community college students enrolled in the DDP are guaranteed admission to GSU. They also receive dedicated transfer advising, a tuition lock-in, and access to the GSU Promise and other scholarships,” said Maimon.
Maimon emphasized GSU’s opportunity to be a model 21st century university: serving students of all ages, non-traditional and traditional, working adults and recent high school graduates; offering quality programs at all times of the day; and providing strong incentives to community college students to follow a seamless pathway from a community college associate degree to a GSU bachelor’s degree.
Governors State has one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, with 47 percent minority students and a large proportion of first-generation college students. “The addition of underclassmen will increase the diversity in the age of our students,” noted Maimon. “Freshmen will learn valuable lessons from our non-traditional and returning students, and vice versa.”
The university is involved in several other major developments that will add to its ability to serve the educational needs of the region. GSU has made initial plans to open student housing for undergraduate and graduate students in the fall of 2014, when the first freshmen arrive. In October 2011, the university began the $22.6 million, three-year renovation of its science facilities. The project will create state-of-the-art laboratories, enabling GSU to improve its preparation of students for careers in healthcare, computer science, scientific and mathematics research, and science and math education.
The expansion of GSU’s academic programs has strong support from within and without the university. The admission of freshmen has been endorsed by the GSU Faculty Senate, Student Senate, Civil Service Senate, and the Alumni Board, the Student Advisory Council of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and the Village of University Park. In addition several of GSU’s regional community college and university partners wrote letters of support to the Illinois Board of Higher Education.