Opinion: SIU funding vote was a reprieve for Carbondale. The campus must get its act together.

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If Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, the city of Carbondale and the people of deep Southern Illinois consider Wednesday’s SIU Board of Trustees vote a victory, they are making a grave mistake.

The Board of Trustees voted on a proposal that would have allocated an additional $5.1 million of the SIU system’s state appropriation to SIU Edwardsville.

A couple of facts served as impetus for this proposal. The most obvious is the seismic shift in enrollment over the past decade. For most of SIU Edwardsville’s existence, it has been the smaller sibling. That is no longer the case. Enrollment at the two campuses is nearly identical. In fact, projections indicate SIU Edwardsville may actually surpass Carbondale this fall.

Granted, this is a complicated issue. However, based on those two facts alone it seems clear that “the times, they are a-changing.” From the outside looking in, it seems obvious that the funding shift will occur sooner rather than later.

Dunn is in the process of hiring a consulting firm that will determine an equitable formula for divvying up the state funds. We applaud that action. He told the newspaper earlier this week that enrollment will probably make up at least 51 percent of that formula … another indication that Thursday’s vote was not a victory for SIU Carbondale, but rather a reprieve.

This is an issue that is not going to disappear. In fact, shortly after the vote not to shift the funds, state Rep. Jay Hoffmann of Swansea filed legislation that would separate the two campuses.

That notion is both premature and ill-considered.

The SIU System is currently made up of about 30,000 students. Between the two campuses the university system boasts a law school and a medical school (based at SIU Carbondale), as well as pharmacy and dental schools (based at SIU Edwardsville).

If the state of Illinois doesn’t get its financial house in order, or if there is another budget crisis, that university system carries considerable financial clout. Separating the two systems might seem beneficial to Edwardsville in the short term, but in the long term it figures to weaken the political standing of both entities.

It is important to note that SIU Edwardsville reached this point as part of the system. Obviously, it has been working.

Conversely, it is unacceptable to settle for the status quo — particularly where SIU Carbondale is concerned. These actions, the vote to shift funding and the proposal to dissolve the current SIU System, are loud, clear signals that the Carbondale campus needs to get its act together quickly.

We would love to see SIU Carbondale’s focus on recruiting and retaining students take precedence over everything else for the time being. Getting students to come to our spectacular campus and then keeping them here is currently more important than whether academic units are divided into schools or departments.

And, the city of Carbondale and the surrounding area, which rely heavily on the existence of the university, also need to be looking at what can be done to attract students and make the region more hospitable to students who come here.

Carbondale raised concerns about what effects a diminished SIU Carbondale would have on the city. We agree, a weakened SIU would have a negative impact on all of us.

However, the Board of Trustees’ prime concern is not the welfare of Carbondale and environs. The Board of Trustees’ decisions must be based on what is best for the university system. Certainly, the city can, and should, present its case, but it would be well-advised to work with the university to make Carbondale a more attractive place as a whole.

In the meantime, SIU Carbondale needs to present a viable plan to attract and retain students, and do it now. It has been made crystal-clear that enrollment will be a driving factor in the future allocation of state funds. To ignore those statements is to invite further erosion.







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April 14, 2018 at 07:44AM

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Opinion: SIU funding vote was a reprieve for Carbondale. The campus must get its act together.

Democratic state reps support plan to move millions of dollars to SIUE from Carbondale

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Democratic state representatives from the metro-east are backing a $5.1 million shift in funding to Southern Illinois University’s Edwardsville campus from its Carbondale campus, according to a news release.

State Reps. Jay Hoffman, of Swansea; Katie Stuart, of Edwardsville; LaToya Greenwood, of East St. Louis; and Monica Bristow, of Godfrey released a joint statement backing the move being considered by the Southern Illinois Board of Trustees.

“We support the Southern Illinois University system and both campuses located in Carbondale and Edwardsville who have had a relationship of working together. While we support the individual mission of each campus, during the last two decades, Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale campus has seen a sharp decline in enrollment, with a decrease of 37 percent since 1999,” the statement read. “Meanwhile, the student population of Edwardsville’s campus has steadily increased, and the two campuses now rival each other in size. With equal student populations, the two campuses should get equal funding.”

Following is the remainder of the statement:

“Historically, the Carbondale campus has received more than 60 percent of available state funding, but Edwardsville is deserving of their fair share. Edwardsville stood strong throughout the state’s budget impasse, and even loaned millions of dollars to Carbondale. The Edwardsville campus is no longer just for commuters. It is a competitive University and deserves to be funded as such.

“Edwardsville’s location in the Metro East makes it a prime location for investment. Southern Illinois University’s Edwardsville campus has the ability to serve as a pioneer for workforce training, increasing opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation. Additionally, with its close proximity to Scott Air Force Base, the Edwardsville campus also attracts students with a strong work ethic and a need for continued educational opportunities.

“We urge the Board of Trustees to vote in favor of a shift in funding to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. By fairly funding Edwardsville, we can continue attracting the best and the brightest students and work to halt the exodus of Illinois students to out-of-state schools.”

Republican lawmakers closer to Carbondale, in their own news release, urged caution with the plan for reallocating money.

“The Carbondale campus is currently working through the first steps of a reorganization that has not really been given a chance to start working,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro. “I’m concerned there is a push to make a quick decision to divert funds from Carbondale to Edwardsville by a Board of Trustees that currently has a vacant seat. We’re talking about moving a lot of money out of Carbondale’s economy. I think we should slow down, study this, and at the very least have a fully-slated Board of Trustees before making such a vitally important decision.”

State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, called for a careful study of any change.

“Although I support evaluating and potentially updating the funding ratio between the two universities, any such change should only occur after a careful study, conducted in a process that has the support of the full board of trustees,” Schimpf said. “The current proposal is scheduled to go before an incomplete Board of Trustees, without the benefit of outside, impartial study, at a time when SIUC is in the midst of a reorganization. I urge the University President and the Chair of the Board of Trustees to rethink their decision to press ahead with this vote.”

Messages to state Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, and state Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, were not immediately returned.

The SIU Board of Trustees is scheduled to discuss the matter Wednesday and vote on the proposed shift Thursday.

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April 11, 2018 at 01:51PM

Democratic state reps support plan to move millions of dollars to SIUE from Carbondale

Selle: Collegiate ‘brain drain’ adding to lackluster Illinois standing

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With state taxes due next week, I dutifully contributed greatly to the State of Illinois this week. The size of the check was generous, thanks to the state income tax increase Democrats insisted last year we all needed.

Taxes, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes of the U.S. Supreme Court reminded us decades ago, are the price we pay for a civilized society in this nation. Despite the civilized part becoming more and more in doubt, I shouldn’t complain next month when the property tax bill arrives.

Before addressing the envelope to the state treasurer in Springfield, though, I wondered what I’m getting for my money. Not much, I determined. It is a conclusion more and more are reaching as they weigh leaving the Land of Lincoln for less taxing states and greener pastures.

They see what I see: Soaring taxes at the state and local levels, crumbling roads, higher education in disarray and schools begging increasingly for additional funding. Public officials and public unions seemingly more concerned about their pay and pensions than doing the jobs they’ve been appointed to perform on our behalf.

I know of a growing amount of people looking forward to the future and retirement who don’t plan to spend their golden years in Illinois. They recently closed on houses in Door County, Lake Delavan and Williams Bay, all in Wisconsin; New Buffalo in Michigan; communities in Florida and Tennessee. They are not alone.

In 2017, for the third straight year, the Chicago region has lost people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. We lost population while nine other metro areas gained new residents.

During the recently ended March primary campaigns, I waited to hear how gubernatorial candidates of both parties would address the expanding Illinoisan diaspora. They were mum. Perhaps the topic will come in the next months during the runup to the November election. We’ll see.

Our sad lot became clearer this week as U.S. News & World Report issued its annual “Best Places to Live in America — 2018.” Of the top 50 places the editors zeroed in on, none are in Illinois. Included in the criteria to make the top 50 were the job market, quality of life and net migration. Towns in Missouri also failed to make the ranking, so that is some consolation.

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Region: Lake County,City: Waukegan,Opinion

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April 11, 2018 at 10:21AM

Selle: Collegiate ‘brain drain’ adding to lackluster Illinois standing

Selle: Collegiate ‘brain drain’ adding to lackluster Illinois standing

https://ift.tt/2HslhO8

With state taxes due next week, I dutifully contributed greatly to the State of Illinois this week. The size of the check was generous, thanks to the state income tax increase Democrats insisted last year we all needed.

Taxes, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes of the U.S. Supreme Court reminded us decades ago, are the price we pay for a civilized society in this nation. Despite the civilized part becoming more and more in doubt, I shouldn’t complain next month when the property tax bill arrives.

Before addressing the envelope to the state treasurer in Springfield, though, I wondered what I’m getting for my money. Not much, I determined. It is a conclusion more and more are reaching as they weigh leaving the Land of Lincoln for less taxing states and greener pastures.

They see what I see: Soaring taxes at the state and local levels, crumbling roads, higher education in disarray and schools begging increasingly for additional funding. Public officials and public unions seemingly more concerned about their pay and pensions than doing the jobs they’ve been appointed to perform on our behalf.

I know of a growing amount of people looking forward to the future and retirement who don’t plan to spend their golden years in Illinois. They recently closed on houses in Door County, Lake Delavan and Williams Bay, all in Wisconsin; New Buffalo in Michigan; communities in Florida and Tennessee. They are not alone.

In 2017, for the third straight year, the Chicago region has lost people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. We lost population while nine other metro areas gained new residents.

During the recently ended March primary campaigns, I waited to hear how gubernatorial candidates of both parties would address the expanding Illinoisan diaspora. They were mum. Perhaps the topic will come in the next months during the runup to the November election. We’ll see.

Our sad lot became clearer this week as U.S. News & World Report issued its annual “Best Places to Live in America — 2018.” Of the top 50 places the editors zeroed in on, none are in Illinois. Included in the criteria to make the top 50 were the job market, quality of life and net migration. Towns in Missouri also failed to make the ranking, so that is some consolation.

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Region: Lake County,City: Waukegan,Opinion

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April 11, 2018 at 10:21AM

Selle: Collegiate ‘brain drain’ adding to lackluster Illinois standing

SIU president: $5.1 million funding shift from Carbondale to Edwardsville would reflect long-held operating policy

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CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University System President Randy Dunn says he stands by the recommendation to reallocate $5.1 million in state appropriation funding from SIU Carbondale to SIU Edwardsville because it reflects the system’s operating policy for the last 40 years.

During a meeting with The Southern Illinoisan’s editorial board Tuesday, Dunn said that the operating policy for the two campuses has dictated a 60/40 percent split in appropriation distribution between SIUC and SIUE since at least as far back as 1979.

Over the years, that split has gotten skewed by virtue of state cuts and loss of certain programs, Dunn said.

According to figures provided by Dunn, the appropriation distribution for Fiscal Year 2018 was $91,287,400 (63.9 percent) to SIUC and $51,565,000 (36.1 percent) to SIUE.

“In making the case for this to go forward for board consideration, and not pull it or table the item at this time, in my thought process … was the fact that the action that’s in front of the board is actually a lesser amount of money than it would take simply to come back to the 60/40, which had been the operating policy for the system going back we think now 40 years,” Dunn said.

To reflect a 60/40 percent split, the adjustment would be about $5.6 million.

He said the board will ultimately decide on the matter, but his role as system president “is to ensure a fidelity to the policy that the board has, and its implementation.”

The proposed $5.1 million comprises about 1.4 percent of the current operating budget for SIUC.

“At some point, as institutions come together in a system, there has to be a sense that all of the partners in the system are going to be treated equitably, that there’s an honest brokering from the system that takes place and a fair shake for the operation of each of the underlying campuses,” Dunn said.

He said that although there are differences between the campuses, particularly in research missions, they are looking more and more like equals.

“If there’s a sense that that isn’t being fulfilled by a system, then it’s probably not surprising that we’re hearing the consternation of SIUE that we are at this point … and I have to be fair to say I understand that frustration,” Dunn said.

Dunn said that the early-phase, $5.1 million adjustment would not be the first step that leads to the reorganization of the system.

“I take the exact opposite view. If this item, based upon the enrollment, doesn’t eventually move forward … I think that calls into question the future of the system and its credibility and legitimacy for those in the Metro East, who I might suggest are watching this just as closely as Carbondale-area residents. And that’s what concerns me about this having the potential of having to wait until the full-blown study is done,” Dunn said.

The proposal calls on Dunn to hire an external consultant to develop a new funding formula. SIU is currently trying to find a consulting firm to take on the project.

Dunn said there’s a narrative in the Carbondale community that he doesn’t care about protecting SIUC, and he called it “the farthest thing from the truth.”

“I want every campus to be successful, to move forward, to reach its highest potential with good leadership being provided at the campus level with the involvement of all the constituencies, all the things that you see in a campus that has great organizational health — I want that for every campus, including Carbondale,” Dunn said. “I spent nearly a decade here as a professor, a faculty member; my home is here, and we made that decision consciously. … I’m all in for Carbondale’s success, but in looking at this, I’m also system president.”

The Board of Trustees has the authority to adjust the reallocation at the board table. It will discuss the matter during Wednesday’s work session and come to a vote at Thursday’s full meeting.






janis.esch@thesouthern.com

618-351-5082

On Twitter: @janis_eschSI



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April 10, 2018 at 07:43PM

SIU president: $5.1 million funding shift from Carbondale to Edwardsville would reflect long-held operating policy

Guest View: Investment needed to improve higher education in Illinois

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The Democratic and Republican primaries are over, thankfully, for many of us. But as the candidates transition into a new gear of spending and inundating us with numbers and claims about each other, we should be closely watching what’s happening to our state’s higher education system.

We cannot escape the reality facing Illinois: People are leaving, in droves. The more our political leaders fight, the more uncertainty and angst is created, and the easier it is for talented workers and their families to find somewhere else to call home.

The same holds true for our college and university students, and sadly, it has for some time. As our state grinds further into fiscal disaster, what’s left behind is a sad tale of exodus:

* In 2002, 29 percent of our college-going high school graduates enrolled out of state. By 2016, that number had grown to 46 percent — nearly half of eligible Illinois high school grads choosing to go anywhere but Illinois for college.

* In 2011, almost 880,000 students were enrolled in Illinois higher education. Just five years later, in 2016, that number had dropped by 100,000 students, or nearly a 12 percent drop.

Why are our college students fleeing? Higher education critics, from policymakers to parents, will claim the cost is too high and our campuses haven’t adapted quickly enough to our ever-evolving economy. One other important number is critically important here: Once adjusted for inflation, state funding for higher education operations (not including pensions) has dropped by $1 billion over the last 15 years.

We cannot pretend that a significant disinvestment in our crown jewel of higher education has not contributed to the challenges of cost, innovation and, most important, a growing perception that students can fare better elsewhere. These draconian cuts, to both student aid and institutions, have created a de facto policy that encouraged our best and brightest to leave. And with every student that leaves — almost 170,000 of them over that five-year period — it should be no surprise that our Illinois higher education rankings slipped from the top to the middle of the pack.

Understand the practical and wide-reaching effects of the exodus of college students. Many college-aged students who do come here from other states for their degrees are just visiting. We don’t have the warm weather of Florida, or the mountain hiking of Colorado, or the lure that other states can offer. So if we cannot keep our students here, and we lose others who graduate and head back home, where will we get our next generation of nurses and doctors, classroom teachers, and skilled engineers to plan our roads and infrastructure?

Our high-quality system of community colleges and public and private universities provide many wonderful choices for Illinois residents now, guides them through completing a degree at nationally high rate, and could do so much more if state government embraced the possibilities instead of thwarting them. The 2.5-year budget stalemate, where higher education was a primary victim, provided a window into the harm done to our students and our institutions.

Illinois colleges and universities employ 175,000 Illinoisans and produce an annual economic benefit of $50 billion, far more return on the state’s investment of less than $2 billion. Our campuses outperform virtually any other area of state investment because of outside private and federal investment, further driven by the high priority businesses place on developing and utilizing a skilled workforce when they invest and locate here.

We need a statewide comprehensive road map for improving higher education that recognizes we have helped create this problem, and can only turn it around through real investment and improved performance. I’m encouraged a bipartisan group of legislators has come together to work on this road map. My challenge to all of our leaders is to make higher education a priority on the campaign trail and at the Capitol, and not just a talking point in the latest ad buy.

Dave Tretter is president of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities.

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April 10, 2018 at 08:16PM

Guest View: Investment needed to improve higher education in Illinois

U of I officials seek increased state funding

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Though the state’s two-year state budget impasse has long lifted, the damage it caused to the reputation of the state’s universities has lingered, University of Illinois officials said Thursday.

To help stem that tide, system President Timothy Killeen and chancellors from all three campuses advocated for an increase in their annual state appropriation before an Illinois Senate committee.

That extra money would help retain faculty, keep student costs down and restore financial stability to the university after an uncertain few years.

“We want to be part of the state’s solution to the challenges that we all face,” said University of Illinois Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson. “We know that the finances are certainly a challenge, but we believe investing in the University of Illinois will help the state overall.”

The university system — which includes campuses in Chicago, Urbana and Springfield — is seeking $681 million in appropriations from the state. This is an increase from $583 million in the budget year that ended last June and $650 million in the year that ends this June. And it is much more than the $588 million Gov. Rauner proposed in his budget.

The bulk of the money would go toward retaining faculty, who have increasingly been the subject of recruitment efforts by other institutions.

“We know for a fact that Texas A&M and the University of Texas have a special fund set aside to go poach Illinois faculty,” Wilson said. “We’ve been told that by numerous individuals, including some of the faculty they’re going after. So, we do have a reputational challenge in front of us, and I think part of the challenge is that our peers think that we’re struggling and they are going to use that opportunity to try and attract talent away.”

Those efforts increased by nearly 40 percent during the budget impasse, Wilson said.

And though the university was able to keep most of their talent, “it’s a lot of energy, a lot of time, and a lot of money to counter these offers from other institutions,” Wilson said.

To retain faculty, Killeen said it was time to go on offense.

“Because of the budget impasse, we’ve taken a bit of a reputational hit in the last couple of years and we need to go back on the offense in terms of recruiting and retaining world-class scholars and talented researchers, so we’re seeking some support to do that,” he said.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch called the request “very reasonable.”

“It has set high goals to grow all three of our campuses, including UIS, with the intent to make a University of Illinois degree even more accessible to Illinois residents,” Koch said. “And the appropriation is key to doing that.”

Though enrollment numbers at Springfield were down slightly this school year, Koch said she is encouraged by a 35 percent uptick in applications. She said the goal is to grow UIS by 1,000 students in the next few years.

“Solid financial support from the state is key to doing that,” Koch said.

In addition to the state appropriation, university officials also advocated for nearly $600 million in capital spending, hoping to reduce a backlog in projects that has grown over the years since the state’s last major capital construction program.

Specifically mentioned was the need for library renovations on all three campuses, including a more than $58 million facelift for Brookens Library at UIS.

According to Chuck Coderko, a UIS associate chancellor, the building is among the university’s top capital priorities should state funding free up.

Brookens opened in 1976 as the first major permanent building on the Springfield campus. Since, there have been few changes made to the building. A renovation would include electrical, mechanical and plumbing upgrades; more energy efficient features; new classroom spaces; and updated aesthetics.

Officials stressed importance of maintaining infrastructure, with Killeen even pointing to UIS’ new student union as an example of an investment that’s already paying off.

“We’re delighted with the new infrastructure component, the Student Union, which we think is helping us with recruitment,” Killeen said. “Those numbers — applications, admissions — are up. Things are looking strong, and we’re delighted with the progress at Springfield.”

Contact Brenden Moore: 782-3095, bmoore@sj-r.com, @brendenmoore13.

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April 5, 2018 at 08:50PM

U of I officials seek increased state funding