Since Al Goldfarb, Western Illinois University’s 10th president, officially took office July 1, 2002, the University has outlined goals and values within the framework of a strategic plan, expanded the University’s operations in the Quad Cities through a gift from Deere and Company of facilities and land which will become a riverfront campus, which is scheduled to open in Spring 2012, and designated the southwest section of the Macomb campus as a fine arts quadrant and location for a new Performing Arts Center.
Under his leadership the University has expanded its Cost Guarantee program to include graduate degree students, making Western the only public university in the state which guarantees tuition, fees, and room and board at the undergraduate and graduate level. The University now offers its first doctoral program, an Educational Doctorate (Ed.D.) degree in educational leadership for elementary and secondary school administrators. New undergraduate degree programs in nursing, engineering, forensic chemistry and emergency management, along with such graduate degree programs as museum studies and biology-zoo and aquarium studies, have been added to Western's major degree programs during his tenure.
Additional campus construction projects include the remodeling of Memorial Hall, as well as Corbin and Olson halls. During the past two years, such projects that were completed included renovations to the student seating at Hanson Field and the Document and Publication Services and Property Control facility was constructed. In addition, Western's newest building, the Multicultural Center, which houses Casa Latina, the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center and the Women's Center, opened in Fall 2009, and the Donald S. Spencer Student Recreation Center was expanded to better accommodate students, faculty, staff and alumni. In 2009, a capital bill was passed that included construction of a performing arts Center in Macomb and the first building of a new riverfront campus in the Quad Cities.
Goldfarb oversees the University's current comprehensive campaign, "Set the Standard: Higher Values in Higher Education," which to date, has raised just over $30 million of the campaign's $60 million goal. University fundraising efforts resulted in $8.2 million in Fiscal Year 2009, the highest annual total on record.
A professor of theatre, Goldfarb continues to teach theatre history and to take students and community members on trips to the theatre in his native New York City. He was inducted into the Hunter College Alumni Hall of Fame in April 2004. Goldfarb was recently appointed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to serve on the new State of Illinois' Serve Illinois Commission. The purpose of the commission is to enhance and support community volunteerism and administers the AmeriCorps Illinois program. He has served as the chair of the Summit League Presidents Council and was a member of the Executive Board for The Renaissance Group, a national consortium of colleges and universities with a major commitment to the preparation of educational professionals; one in every 10 teachers is educated in Renaissance institutions.
He is the past chair of Illinois Campus Compact, part of a national coalition of nearly 1,000 college and university presidents representing some five million students, who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education, and served as convener of the Presidents and Chancellors of Public Universities in Illinois group.
Goldfarb came to Western following 25 years of distinguished service at Illinois State University, where he had served as provost and academic vice president since 1998. He developed and was responsible for the implementation of the strategic plan for ISU, and he was involved in development of the institution’s comprehensive fundraising campaign plan. During his tenure as dean of fine arts and department chair of theatre at Illinois State, the institution’s gallery exhibitions and theatre department received recognition in national publications and a permanent theatre for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and a Performing Arts Center were funded.
Goldfarb has served as president of the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education and as a member of the Illinois Arts Council. He received service awards from the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education, the Illinois Theatre Association, and the American College Theatre Festival.
He has co-authored two theatre textbooks and co-edited two books. He collaborated on his textbooks with Edwin Wilson, retired Broadway theatre critic for the Wall Street Journal. Theatrical Performance During the Holocaust, which he co-edited with Rebecca Rovit, was a 1999 National Jewish Book Award Finalist. Goldfarb has also authored numerous articles on theatre.
The product of public higher education, Goldfarb earned his Ph.D. (1978) at the City University of New York (CUNY), his master’s degree (1973) at Hunter College of CUNY, and his bachelor’s degree (1972) at Queens College of CUNY.
Goldfarb and his wife, Elaine, have two children. Their daughter, Deborah, works as a lawyer in San Francisco, California; their son, Jason, is a Ph.D. student at University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois.
Goldfarb will retire as president of Western Illinois University June 30, 2011.
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