Blackburn to offer valedictorian, salutatorian scholarship

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Blackburn College in Carlinville is offering high school valedictorians and salutatorians up to five years of tuition free.

In a release, the school said it will be offer the free years — worth about $100,000 per student — to valedictorians and salutatorians from across the country.

Students who accept the tuition-free education will be requird to participate in the Blackburn Work Program, live on campus and maintain a 3.2 cumulative grade point average.

More information about the scholarship program is available on the school’s website.











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Commentary: The state’s no good, very bad year





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46 cited after state finds 6,400 acres baited for deer hunts





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Getting in the holiday spirit





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November 18, 2017 at 10:24PM

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Blackburn to offer valedictorian, salutatorian scholarship

IBHE: SIUE fastest growing Illinois public institution over past 20 years

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EDWARDSVILLE — Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is the fastest growing public institution in Illinois over the past 20 years. In statistics from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), SIUE has demonstrated a 26.8 percent growth in total enrollment from 1996-2016.

“SIUE’s consistent and steady growth over the past 20 years can be attributed to the ever-evolving nature of this campus and the Edwardsville-Glen Carbon area,” said Scott Belobrajdic, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management. “In the mid-1990s, we added residence halls and began the transition to a primarily residential campus. In the mid-2000s, we added the School of Pharmacy and more residence halls. Shortly thereafter, we moved to NCAA Division I athletics and expanded the School of Engineering.

“In more recent years, the opening of the new $80-million Science Building in 2012, offering instate tuition to Missouri residents, and an increasing commitment to merit and need based scholarships pushed SIUE to record enrollment in 2014. Most recently, the addition of hundreds of solely online and non-traditional students, and the development of a robust honors program have supported enrollment stability.”

Even with a slight dip in enrollment for fall 2017 to 13,796, SIUE’s enrollment growth from 1996 is 23.7 percent.

“During those 20 years, the size and quality of the freshman class have both grown,” Belobrajdic said. “In 1996, the mean ACT for the incoming class of 1,191 was 20.9. Fall 2014 brought a record 2,126 new freshmen to campus with an average ACT of 23.5.

“New transfer students have always been a part of SIUE’s regional mission and their numbers have grown from 1,175 in fall 1996 to more than 1,400 each of the past three fall semesters.”

SIUE has also expanded its geographic reach. Enrollment from the Chicago metropolitan area nearly tripled from 546 students in 1996 to 1,467 for fall 2016. A larger number of Missouri students decided to make the trip to SIUE’s 2,600-acre campus as 1,397 Missouri natives are currently enrolled compared to 959 in 1996.

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November 17, 2017 at 08:46PM

IBHE: SIUE fastest growing Illinois public institution over past 20 years

SIU-C Chancellor Releases Draft #2 Of Restructuring Plan.

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Southern Illinois University Chancellor Carlo Montemagno has released the second draft of his proposal to revitalize academic programs at the university.

Montemagno says he has received feedback on his first draft from faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members and from that feedback he has made a few changes.

Some changes include the School of Integrated Biological Sciences changing to the School of Biological Sciences with programs taught by School of Medicine Faculty. Anatomy has been removed from this school and Zoology has been added.

There is a proposal to start a School of Sustainability and Earth Sciences with future programs in Ecology and in Fisheries and Wildlife Management.

But one issue the Chancellor has not budged on, is the elimination of the word “department.” Instead, the term would be replaced with “division,” and along with that change, department chairs will be eliminated. However, he says he’s open to finding a way to return to the departments in the future.

The Faculty Senate and Graduate Council will formally weigh in on the proposal before a final version is released in the spring.

To take a look at the entire proposal, visit:  http://ift.tt/2zRByIK

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November 17, 2017 at 06:37PM

SIU-C Chancellor Releases Draft #2 Of Restructuring Plan.

Spotlight: Funding Illinois universities an imperative, not an option

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After a budget impasse that persisted over two years, the state of Illinois passed a Fiscal Year 2018 budget on July 6. Prior to this, significantly decreased state dollars were allocated to Illinois public higher education institutions, which resulted in a ripple effect that continues to impact our regional universities.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the state decreased higher education funding per student by 54 percent from 2008 to 2016 (a decrease of $3,479 per student). From 2015 to 2016, Illinois’ support per higher education student dropped 37.1 percent.

State leaders must realize the value and necessity of regional public universities. Western Illinois University has done its part and we have been frugal and careful stewards of the public funds that we receive. As a result of the impasse and dwindling state support, faculty and staff at Western have weathered significant salary decreases and dealt with the effects of other substantial cuts. We appreciate our employees’ many sacrifices. We all have sacrificed a great deal, from forgoing salary increases to decreasing salaries via furloughs and voluntary pay reductions, to taking on additional responsibilities and workloads to counteract reductions in funding. We have eliminated programs and reduced services. Without consistent support from our state, we continue to be forced to make decisions to conform to the lack of adequate and predictable funding.

Now is the time for the state to adequately fund higher education in order to support our students, employees, programs and infrastructure. This funding, including for salaries and operations, is critical to maintain WIU. We must remain competitive in our efforts to recruit and retain world-class faculty and staff, as well as outstanding students. If we want them to remain in the state, and if we want to provide exemplary social and intellectual capital to rebuild Illinois’ economy, the state must fund regional public higher education institutions.

We need the state of Illinois to restore confidence in public higher education by investing in public higher education and in the next generation of students, our greatest assets. This begins with ensuring access to public higher education, which is a proven path to upward mobility and a prosperous state.

In sum, an increased investment in public higher education is not an option. It is an absolute imperative.

​Dr. Jack Thomas is president of Western Illinois University, based in Macomb.

 

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November 17, 2017 at 06:43PM

Spotlight: Funding Illinois universities an imperative, not an option

Former state senator, SIC alumna visit students

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HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) -

As part of Southeastern Illinois College’s “Pizza and Politics” series, social science chair invited former Illinois State Senator Duane Noland to speak to a group of 65 students.

Accompanying Noland was legislative aide and former SIC alumna Dana Hooven.

Hooven shared some of her trying times with students. In 2007, she was diagnosed with rare medical condition, an inoperable tumor located at the base of her brain. Despite receiving a less than positive prognosis, Hooven decided to fight. She later qualified for a medical trial that helped to reduce the size of her tumor and ultimately saved her life.

A mother of two, Hooven later returned to Southeastern Illinois College as a non-traditional student where she enrolled in the vet technician program. After joining the Model Illinois Government team and winning numerous awards, Hooven changed her major to political science. She helped lead the Model Illinois Government team to three consecutive championships before her graduation in 2017.

Hooven told the gathered students that everything happens for a reason.

“Always listen to your heart, follow your passion, and get involved,” said Hooven.

She is currently serving as a legislative aide for State Senator Dale Fowler, where she deals with public policy, constituent service and runs the Senator’s Harrisburg office.

Former State Senator Duane Noland encouraged students to ask themselves what more can they do for their community.

“Anyone can get involved and you should get involved,” said Noland. “Participation matters.”  

Noland is the president and chief executive officer for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives based in Springfield.

The association represents 24 electric cooperatives including Southeastern Illinois Electric Cooperative here in Southern Illinois. He previously represented the citizens of central Illinois serving four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives and also served two terms in the Illinois Senate, retiring as Assistant Majority Leader.

For more information on the “Pizza and Politics” series or MIG, contact Matt Lees at 618-252-5400 ext. 2216 or matt.lees@sic.edu.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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November 17, 2017 at 05:47PM

Former state senator, SIC alumna visit students

Thomas resumes Brown Bag dialogue

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Thomas resumes Brown Bag dialogue

Matthew Armour, Courier Staff

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With aspirations to keep communication open amongst faculty, staff and students, Western Illinois University president Jack Thomas hosted his second Brown Bag Lunch Conversation, promoting an open forum and honest communication within the Western community.

 “Brown Bag conversations provide us with another informal opportunity to communicate,” Thomas said. “I invited members of our University community, as well as our local community, to bring their lunch to the Brattain Lounge on Nov. 15 and enjoy a casual hour of conversation and fellowship.” 

 The theme for this week’s Brown Bag conversations was communication and a desire to create a partnership between the University union and administration in regards to financial reporting.

 “I was wondering if it would be possible for representatives from the Union and the Administration to meet ahead of time to present a set of generally agreed upon figures that would be informative to faculty members,“ said English professor Bill Knox.

 Thomas responded, agreeing that faculty members play a pivotal role at the university and will be essential during budget negotiations.

“I’m sure we can, I don’t see any problem in doing that,” Thomas said. “We had our budget director come to the faculty senate to talk about the budget, who has also come to those sessions in the Union, which is the faculty union, and the university administration and presented them financial figures before.”

 Moving forward, another topic of discussion that Thomas spearheaded was the financial reserve and how to properly distribute the money.

“There were times when the state did not come through with funding. Every institution, every business should have a reserve,” Thomas said. “We had it in place so we could float the state. There were times before the budget impasse that the state didn’t come through. We had to use that reserve.

 According to Thomas, the nature of his Brown Bag dialogues is to inform the general public and concerned members of the community and allow self-expression. Thomas also stressed the importance of payroll and how detrimental it is to the University’s reputation when payroll is not met.

“We have an obligation to meet payroll, and when you do not meet payroll, that really says a whole lot about your institution,” Thomas said “If you don’t get a paycheck then these people are going to be all out and so you have to make payroll.” 

 La’India Cooper, President of the Black Student Association raised questions about student attendance and enrollment at Western.

 “My biggest concern as being a student here is future enrollment is looking as far as numbers because I feel like if numbers go up as far as enrollment, everyone can get a raise,” Cooper said. “This question lead to a general discussion of bringing welcome receptions and trying to attract more students to campus ahead of the FAFSA opening October 1.

 If you have a question or concern about something within the Western Illinois community, come visit President Thomas and his Brown bag lunch discussions in the Union’s Brattain Lounge.

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November 17, 2017 at 12:31PM

Thomas resumes Brown Bag dialogue

Guest View: Federal tax reform bill will harm college students

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Illinois college students and their families need a high-quality, affordable education now more than ever. Our private colleges and universities have worked hard to provide that quality education at an affordable — and increasingly competitive — price in recent years. But that progress faces a serious threat from Washington.

As the state has made historic funding cuts in the last decade, private campuses across Illinois have invested in students by controlling costs in many ways, seeking alternative ways to generate revenues to provide the high-quality education students need, and streamlining programs to provide more value for students’ investment.

These actions are in response to the needs of the students and families we serve. And in part, these actions address the call from lawmakers to slow down the increasing cost of higher education while still providing access to a college or university that best fits an individual student’s needs.

Now Congress, through its recently unveiled tax reform bill proposal, threatens to throw up additional roadblocks that threaten the financial stability of private nonprofit colleges and universities and their ability to serve students.

One ominous proposal would place a tax on private college endowments. The earnings from endowments, along with private fundraising and other institutional revenues, have long provided scholarships to students as well as base funding for academic programs. Cutting this revenue will decrease funding for needy students and increase the costs to offer programs. In Illinois alone, private colleges and universities annually contribute more than $1 billion in institutional aid, enabling tens of thousands of students to achieve a college degree. Taxing endowments makes little sense if our goal is to increase college participation.

Another part of the proposal would eliminate employer-provided education assistance, which provides much-needed assistance to working students by incentivizing employers to provide tuition assistance benefits. Most recipients of this benefit are non-traditional students trying to improve their skills and workplace mobility. Colleges, businesses and labor organizations all support this important benefit that allows employers to invest in their workforce, while allowing employees the ability to advance their education and experience.

If also enacted, the elimination of tax-exempt bonds for private colleges and universities could significantly raise the cost of capital projects, at a time when the need for infrastructure improvements and safety upgrades (many mandated by government) are greatly needed. This type of bond financing for nonprofits, which meets significant post-issuance disclosure and compliance requirements, is a proven tool with a decades-long record of success for providing vital public services and creating jobs. Low-cost access to capital helps keep private colleges and universities strong, enabling us to keep expenditures low so we can focus on the work we do for the public good and the students and families that we serve.

And there are other provisions that benefit students and institutions that are the target of new taxation. One of these include removing the student loan interest deduction, incredibly important as students start their careers and begin repaying student loans. Another is taxing employee tuition and dependent benefits, which help retain talented staff and would hurt the lowest-paid college employees the most.

A top goal of tax reform should be to support college students and the institutions they attend, not hurt them. Illinois private colleges and universities have a long commitment to providing educational services for the common good. As students succeed, so does our economy and state. Targeting private colleges and universities in this bill could have severe long term consequences, and further deters our national and state goals of having 60 percent of our adults holding some college credential by 2025. Congress should seek ways to encourage the American dream, not shatter it.

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

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November 16, 2017 at 08:18PM

Guest View: Federal tax reform bill will harm college students