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ISU finishes fourth and final open forum for presidential candidates

Written by on March 1, 2024

Image Courtesy of Illinois State University

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University is finishing its presidential candidate open forums with its final of four candidates on Feb. 29 as Valerio Ferme, Ph.D., spoke for an audience at the Bone Student Center.

Ferme is serving his third year as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Cincinnati where he increased sponsored awards from $10 million to over $20 million. He joined UC in 2019 as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Ferme believes that fundraising is important in how an institution is viewed.

He said, “Just last month we closed, I was brought in to help close, the biggest single scholarship gift to the university of $55 million.” 

He also served as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Northern Arizona University from 2017-2019 and as Divisional Dean for the Arts and Humanities at the University of Colorado from 2015–2017. He taught at the University of Colorado for 19 years and served six years as Chair of the Department of French and Italian. 

“I have a very strong commitment to staff, so when I came into the College of Arts and Sciences and, actually even when I came into the College of Arts and Letter at Northern Arizona, I created development funds for staff precisely for professional development,” Ferme said. 

Valerio Ferme, Ph.D., speaking at the Bone Student Center during his open forum at Illinois State University on Feb. 29

When asked how he would handle labor unions he said, “You meet, you talk, you listen. You try to understand their concerns. The reality is, universities these days have very tight budgets. So, the question is, ‘How do we make sure that we are honoring the work of people that are working for us?’”

Ferme elaborated on his opinions of how the state financially supports universities.

“One thing that surprised me, and maybe this is one of the negatives, was how little the state contributes to the university,” he said. “We need to do better.”

Lastly, Ferme touched on his teaching philosophy, how that interacts with research and how that would apply to his administration within a university.

“The balance between teaching and research is important. To me it’s not exclusive. It’s not like we either are a teaching institution or we are a research institution. I think we can do both,” he said. “That’s an opportunity to make the institution different or more visible in the state of Illinois.”

The Presidential Search Committee meets again today and is expected to make a recommendation to the ISU Board of Trustees shortly.