U of I’s capital plan will focus on facilities


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Although the University of Illinois has invested more than $1.2 billion in classrooms, residence halls and athletic venues since 2013, the school will put a renewed focus on facilities across its three campuses.

University officials say it’s time for a renewed focus on facilities. They say they hope to use the university’s borrowing power to fund key projects — including the Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago

With no state budget for the past decade, the university had to pay for more than half of its building projects through operating funds. The state covered about 7 percent.

The News-Gazette in Champaign reports university trustee Donald Edwards says that lack of state funding, coupled with an estimated $2 billion maintenance backlog, demands a long-term approach to addressing concerns about the school’s facilities.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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January 21, 2018 at 01:09PM

U of I’s capital plan will focus on facilities

A strong public university system creates an innovative business climate


I wonder why any business would want to relocate to or start up in Illinois where the public universities are being strangled and starved. A business, its employees, and their families are more apt to thrive in an environment offering innovation, networking and business opportunities, as well as career advancement. These are all benefits that public universities help provide.

— Penny L. Havlicek, Ph.D., Frankfort

A strong public university system creates an innovative business climate

Study Shows Students Leaving the State


Nearly every other high school graduate in Illinois who went to a four-year university chose to do so outside the state in 2016.

A new report from the Illinois Board of Higher Education says that the number of Illinois residents enrolled in a local college is continually dropping and the number of students going to school in other states has been growing for more than a decade. In 2016, almost half of the local high school graduates that planned to attend a four-year school did so out of state. The report shows that they’re primarily just crossing the borders to neighboring state schools.

Board chairman Al Bowman said the decade-long trend is troubling. He thinks recent dips in enrollment are due to other universities out-recruiting Illinois’ schools on their home turf.

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“The schools will collectively have to do a better job of marketing their products,” Bowman said.

Education analyst Preston Cooper with the American Enterprise Institute said the cost of administration often drives up in-state tuition, lessening the value of the local discount.

“It’s definitely an area where schools might be able to cut back if they’re looking to rein in expenditures rather than raise tuition,” he said.

Bowman said a recent IBHE study showed students often pay more in out-of-state tuition and fees than if they had attended a local university.

The University of Illinois is the third most expensive school in the Big 10 conference behind private Northwestern and Penn State. The cheapest is the University of Iowa.

The top out-of-state school for Illinoisans in 2016: the University of Iowa.

Some schools are getting the hint. The University of Illinois confirmed Thursday morning that it would once again keep its tuition rates at the same level as the previous year’s levels. Illinois State University froze its tuition rates last year. Both have seen enrollment increases in recent years, Bowman says.

Illinois’ budget impasse definitely didn’t help attendance at Illinois’ public universities, Bowman said, but the trends extend far beyond 2015, when the impasse began.

The college graduate brain drain is troubling for politicians and school officials alike. College students are statistically more likely to set roots where they went to school, rather than move back home once they graduate. On a mass scale, this exasperates Illinois’ ongoing exodus of population that is now in its fifth consecutive year of lower headcounts.

Also, fewer students inevitably means less revenue for the universities that have become increasingly reliant on tuition for operating expenses. The combination of fewer new freshmen and increasing operation costs creates a vicious cycle of financial trouble for the institutions.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio / www.AltonDailyNews.com)

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January 21, 2018 at 12:08AM

Study Shows Students Leaving the State

District 214, EIU partnership allows adults to get degrees in Arlington Heights


Suburban residents will be able to complete bachelor’s degrees in Arlington Heights as part of a new partnership between Eastern Illinois University and Northwest Suburban High School District 214.

Adult learners enrolled in EIU’s General Studies program can soon take evening and weekend classes at the Forest View Educational Center, 2121 S. Goebbert Road, as well as online, under the arrangement with District 214’s Community Education program.

District 214 and EIU officials held a ribbon-cutting event Friday at EIU’s new office at Forest View. An open house for the university’s General Studies program is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22, for prospective students.

The program accepts up to 100 semester hours from regionally accredited universities, including 78 hours from community colleges.

The two institutions have also formed a partnership that will allow District 214 students to earn early college credit from EIU while still in high school. The dual-credit courses, in subjects including college algebra, speech and English composition, will be offered at all District 214 high schools at a reduced rate, officials said.

The district offers some 60 dual-credit courses in partnership with colleges including Arizona State University, Harper College, National Louis University and Northeastern Illinois University. During the 2016-17 school year, students were enrolled in more than 3,000 dual-credit courses.

“We are excited to offer another avenue for students and adults that expands opportunities for success in college and careers,” Superintendent David Schuler said in a news release.

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January 20, 2018 at 07:03PM

District 214, EIU partnership allows adults to get degrees in Arlington Heights

ISU, Heartland say nursing pact helps students, community


NORMAL — An agreement signed Thursday between Heartland Community College and Illinois State University will help students, hospitals and the community at large, those involved say.

The dual-enrollment agreement allows Heartland nursing students to start work on their bachelor’s degrees before graduating from Heartland.

The two schools already had an agreement that provided a smooth transition into ISU’s RN-to-BSN program for registered nurses with an associate’s degree who want to earn a bachelor of science in nursing. But this lets students get a head start on the process.

Among those planning to participate is Ben Tucker of Bloomington, who is in his second semester as a nursing student at Heartland.

Starting this fall, he will be taking his regular classes at Heartland and starting ISU classes online.

Tucker, an Air Force veteran who eventually wants to become a nurse practitioner, said this program will help him achieve his goal.

Tucker said he chose nursing for a career because “I like the variety of the scope of practice” and “it will allow me to help others.”

Heartland President Rob Widmer said the agreement provides a “cost-effective, high-quality opportunity for nursing students in our community.”

While taking ISU classes as a Heartland student, Tucker and others in the dual-enrollment program will pay Heartland’s much lower tuition rates.

“We all have one thing in common as educators, that is the success of our students,” said Widmer.

Representatives of Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal and OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington attended the signing ceremony in Heartland’s nursing lab.

Toni Bishop-McWain, director of cardiovascular services at OSF, said, “This collaboration is exciting to me because we can reach that goal.”

Bishop-McWain said, “There’s always a constant need” for nurses at the hospital.

Laurie Round, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient services at BroMenn, noted the importance of nurses with bachelor’s degrees “to manage the increasing complexity of both patients and the health care system.”

She said, “The dual-enrollment partnership brings together two great nursing programs to provide our students an expedient and affordable route to a baccalaureate degree.”

Nursing is not the only area where the two schools collaborate.

ISU and Heartland recently signed an agreement enabling students in Heartland’s honors program to transfer into ISU’s honors program. Heartland has a similar agreement with Western Illinois University.

“We’re always looking to see where we can impact students and make it easier for them to succeed,” said Widmer.

Faculty members from both schools communicate about curriculum issues so classes taken at Heartland match what’s needed at ISU, he said. Widmer and Dietz also meet regularly to discuss common concerns.

In nearly all recent years, Heartland has been the leading source of transfer students to ISU, according to ISU spokeswoman Rachel Hatch.

Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter: @pg_sobota

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January 19, 2018 at 05:08AM

ISU, Heartland say nursing pact helps students, community

Kendall College sells programs and name to National Louis University for $1


For-profit Kendall College, best known for its culinary arts school, is vacating its Chicago campus and selling its programs to National Louis University.

The price tag for the financially struggling 84-year-old college is $1, according to a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The unusual agreement, announced earlier this week, would fold Kendall’s five degree programs into the broader academic offerings at National Louis, a private nonprofit university, pending approval by federal regulators. The school will move to National Louis’ flagship campus on South Michigan Avenue, while its name will live on as the Kendall College of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management at NLU.

Kendall is owned by Baltimore-based Laureate Education, a publicly traded company operating a global network of for-profit colleges. As part of the agreement, Laureate will pay up to $14 million to support construction of new facilities at National Louis for the culinary and hospitality programs, according to the SEC filing.

“The process of moving to new facilities will occur over a period of time, which depends in part on the timing of necessary regulatory approval,” Esther Benjamin, a Laureate spokeswoman, said in an email Thursday.

Benjamin said Kendall business students would move to NLU’s campus upon approval, but culinary and hospitality students will remain at Kendall’s current Chicago campus until renovations are complete. The deal is expected to close by the latter half of the year.

“We believe this agreement with NLU represents a thoughtful solution for our current students to continue their education in Chicago at a long-standing institution with a strong mission and academic history, and we are also pleased that the Kendall name will continue,” Paul Lussow, Kendall president, said in a news release.

50-plus Chicago-area cooking schools and classes to kick up your culinary skills »

Founded as an Evanston junior college in 1934, Kendall offered a broad liberal arts education for much of its history. In 1985, Kendall launched its culinary arts school, which quickly became its signature program, training many of Chicago’s top chefs over the years.

Kendall moved the campus to Goose Island in Chicago in 2005. The school has about 800 students enrolled in baking & pastry, business, culinary arts, early childhood education and hospitality management programs.

Laureate obtained an option to buy Kendall in 2004 and helped build the Goose Island campus. Its plans for the site may become clearer in the coming weeks, Benjamin said.

“Laureate is the leaseholder of the property and will embark on a process soon to consider options for the property,” Benjamin said.

A private company when it bought Kendall for an undisclosed amount in 2008, Laureate has grown rapidly, purchasing 41 schools for $2 billion in the last 10 years. The company went public in February 2017, and now has 70 schools in 25 countries.

Pilotlight, a new shared kitchen, to open in former Le Cordon Bleu school »

Laureate generated a net income of $366 million on revenues of $4.2 billion in 2016, according to an annual report filed in March.

In its report, Laureate said it intended to continue to expand its business through existing properties and the acquisition of higher education institutions, but apparently Kendall didn’t fit into those plans.

Eilif Serck-Hanssen, chief executive officer of Laureate, said in the news release Tuesday the Kendall sale reflected the company’s efforts “to simplify and focus our operations, while continuing to have a meaningful impact on the communities we serve.”

Laureate is making money, but Kendall is not.

Kendall reported an operating loss of $5.5 million on revenues of $24.2 million for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, according to Laureate’s SEC filing Wednesday.

In 2015, the Higher Learning Commission, a Chicago-based regional accrediting organization, placed Kendall on financial monitoring for two years “over the school’s continued reliance upon Laureate to provide financial support to sustain its operations,” according to SEC filings.

The sanctions were removed after Kendall submitted an interim financial report in January 2017, commission spokesman Steve Kauffman said Wednesday.

“Increasingly, Kendall faced challenges similar to other small colleges in the U.S.,” the school’s board said in a statement Tuesday. “The Kendall board and leadership took deliberate steps to consider how best to preserve Kendall’s mission in Chicago, in the U.S. and internationally.”

A Kendall spokesman did not respond to a request for additional comment.

Founded in 1886, National Louis was long known as the National College of Education, and offered the first four-year teacher training program in Illinois. In 1990, it took on the name of philanthropist Michael W. Louis, who broadened the school’s mission by helping to establish a separate liberal arts college.

The addition of Kendall’s culinary and hospitality programs creates a third college for the university.

“This agreement provides an excellent opportunity to expand professional pathways through established programs, including culinary arts and hospitality management, and serve more students,” Nivine Megahed, NLU’s president, said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

An NLU spokeswoman said the university was not available to discuss the acquisition further.

Founded as Sylvan Learning Systems in 1989, Laureate got into the higher education business 10 years later with its acquisition of Universidad Europea de Madrid. It entered the online arena with the 2001 purchase of Walden University.

The company sold Sylvan’s supplemental and remedial educational services business in 2003, and took the Laureate name the following year.

Laureate bills itself as the “largest global network of degree-granting higher education institutions,” but its North American presence is limited, with only five institutions based in the U.S., including Kendall.

The company may be best known for recruiting a high-profile spokesman, former President Bill Clinton, who in 2010 signed a five-year contract to serve as honorary chancellor for Laureate.

His term ended in April 2015, two weeks after his wife, Hillary Clinton, began her second and ultimately unsuccessful presidential campaign.


Twitter @RobertChannick

Kendall College sells programs and name to National Louis University for $1

Illinois treasurer cites private tuition restriction on college savings plans


SPRINGFIELD — Illinois families with Bright Start or Bright Directions college savings plans will not get a break on their state taxes if they use those accounts to pay for private K-12 tuition, Treasurer Mike Frerichs said Thursday.

And if they try to claim that deduction, they could potentially face a tax penalty from the state, he further warned.

The new federal tax law includes a provision allowing families with so-called 529 college savings plans, originally only for higher education expenses like tuition, fees and books, to use those tax-deductible funds for private K-12 tuition starting this year.

“Our analysis concludes that families who use Bright Start or Bright Directions money on elementary or high school expenses and then cite those expenditures when seeking tax relief will be in conflict with state law and could incur tax penalties if audited by state authorities,” Frerichs said.

The Illinois Department of Revenue concurred with the treasurer’s analysis, saying “the Illinois plans only allow expenditures on post-secondary education without penalty,” and that “In order to expand the definition of qualified expenditures, section 16.5 of the State Treasurer Act would need to be amended.”

The idea behind Illinois’ 529 savings programs, Bright State and Bright Directions, is to incentivize state taxpayers to save money for themselves or loved ones to attend college. The plans have been popular as they are not subject to federal income taxes and contributions are tax-deductible up to $10,000 for an individual or $20,000 for a married couple on state income taxes. And when it comes time for college, withdrawals from these accounts are exempt from state and federal taxes.

According to Frerichs, more than 450,000 accounts are open in Illinois, with about $9 billion invested in them.

“The whole idea on the state tax deduction was to incentivize saving for college,” Frerichs said. “It was not to incentivize private education.”

Though Illinois residents with plans will be able to use them for private K-12 tuition, they will have to pay the regular 4.95 state income tax rate on that cash. But, many, namely the wealthy, still stand to benefit from escaping federal taxes.

“Anytime you put a benefit in the code, the wealthy most likely will use it more aggressively unless the benefit is phased out at higher income levels — as is the case with many benefits put in the tax law,” said DePaul University professor Ron Marcuson, a tax expert. “I have not analyzed all aspects of Section 529 plans but it does not appear the benefit is phased out as the taxpayer’s income increases.”

However, Frerichs is worried that the confusion caused by conflicting state and federal policies will lead policyholders to write off that expense as a state tax deduction.

The Democratic treasurer said such a write-off, in addition to violating Illinois tax code, is in conflict with the spirit of the program, to save money long-term for college. Instead, Frerichs said the new federal provision opens up opportunities he likened to money laundering.

“Now you could see someone who’s already sending their kid to private school, has a $10,000 tuition bill; instead of giving $10,000 directly to the school, they can put it into a 529 account and then next day, write a check from their 529 account to a school,” Frerichs said. “They’ve not actually saved any money and they didn’t invest in it, they didn’t earn any interest off it. It’s just basically money laundering, it’s a pass-through for tax avoidance.”

If this were to occur, Frerichs said it would could have a negative impact on tax revenue for the state.

“There’s uncertainty of what’s going to happen if they write a check,” Frerichs said. “We want them to know that there are potential penalties out there for doing this, but our hope also is that the General Assembly and the governor will provide some clarity on what they would like.”




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January 18, 2018 at 07:09PM

Illinois treasurer cites private tuition restriction on college savings plans