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2% Raises, Faculty Sabbaticals, New VP Of Diversity And More Coming To Bradley University

Bradley University president Stephen Standifird poses for a portrait inside Dingledine Music Center on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.
Hannah Alani
Bradley University President Stephen Standifird poses for a portrait inside Dingledine Music Center on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.

Bradley University President Stephen Standifird says it's time for the college to move out of "crisis mode."

During his annual "State of the University" address on Wednesday, Standifird announced the return of sabbaticals, pre-pandemic teaching loads, professional travel for faculty and staff and the funding of certain grants.

Standifird also announced a 2% raise for Bradley employees, the "secret sauce" that make the college successful. (Standifird and top administrators will forgo the raise.)

"I mentioned early in the pandemic that we would survive, and then thrive," he said. "We are way past surviving. At this point, we will continue to do what we need to do to navigate through the pandemic. That said, it is time to shift out of crisis mode."


Another financial investment on the horizon is the addition of a Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The application for this job is currently open; Standifird said he hopes to fill the role by next semester.

Standifird said the new VP will focus on making Bradley's campus culture more inclusive. What does that mean?

Well, Standifird said he wants students and staff to tell him what is needed. Administrators are listening to students and staff to better understand the ways in which the university is not currently fostering an inclusive culture, he said.

"This person will report directly to me and will be a partner in helping us shape our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts moving forward," he said.

Standifird came to Bradley in May 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to leading the Peoria university, Standifird served as dean of Butler University’s business school.

Going into the COVID-19 pandemic, Bradley had a $2 million operating deficit, said Standifird, adding the university ran a $3 million surplus last year after receiving federal CARES Act money.

The university still faces a deficit of $3 million for the 2021-2022 year.

In addition to raises and new investments, there's ongoing costs; Standifird told reporters after his speech that Bradley spends upwards of $30,000 a week on COVID testing.

"We can't sustain a negative operating deficit long term," he said. "Doing so eventually causes irreparable damage to the university. However, these are critically important investments for us to make at this time."

All in all, the university is in good financial health, Standifird said.

While Bradley could lean on credit lines if needed, the university will "likely get through the year" without having to do that.

"The hope and expectation is that our finances will continue to strengthen," Standifird said. "We have been operating in crisis mode and this needs to stop."

Bradley began the fall semester with no vaccine mandate. That changed mid-semester.

As of now, rates of full vaccination are in the mid-70s, Standifird told reporters after his speech.

"Just a huge shout out to our students," he said, "even before the mandate was in place, 66 percent of our students were fully vaccinated. And that's at a time when the national average for their age group was 46 percent."

Another one of Standifird's goals for the future includes working more with Bradley's Chicago-based advancement officer. About 26,000 Bradley alums live in Chicago, he said.

"Peoria is and always will be our primary home," he said. "I consider Chicago in many ways our second home."

This year Bradley tied for second place in the U.S. News and World report's ranking of best Midwest regional schools. The ranking increased from fifth place last year.

The Princeton Review also ranked Bradley as one of the nation's best institutions, highlighting the university's game design and online nursing programs.

Hannah Alani is a reporter at WCBU. She joined the newsroom in 2021. She can be reached at hmalani@ilstu.edu.