Chicago will add resources to University of Illinois, chancellor says

Chicago will add resources to University of Illinois, chancellor says

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. | Google images

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — University of Illinois’ chancellor says expanding the university’s presence to Chicago won’t drain resources from Champaign-Urbana, saying two new initiatives there will do “just the opposite.”

Chancellor Robert Jones is also committed to expanding the UI Research Park in Champaign, The News-Gazette reported. He says the Research Park, which has 100 companies, 2,000 employees and $60 million payroll, will be a major draw for Chicago innovators looking to develop startups and use the university’s expertise to become more competitive globally.

Jones was referring to the proposed Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago, a public-private research partnership led by the university that would anchor a statewide “innovation network.” Jones says the university has to find a way to engage the Chicago and its billions in venture capital while remaining firmly anchored in Champaign-Urbana.

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re not closing anything. We’re not moving anything from here to Chicago. We want assets to flow back here,” Jones said.

He called Chicago the heart of a new “technology and innovation renaissance” and said it has a flow of talent and capital from the coasts to the Midwest for the first time in decades.

Jones said a lot of the talent that fueled the growth in Silicon Valley has UI connections. He said the he university needs to build bridges to Chicago to “get these innovators and investors and creators to take a look 100 miles to the south and see what amazing opportunities are sitting right here where we are today.”

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May 27, 2018 at 11:41AM

Chicago will add resources to University of Illinois, chancellor says

Morthland College is closing, according to an attorney for the West Frankfort school

WEST FRANKFORT — Morthland College, the beleaguered private Christian college in West Frankfort, will be closing its doors permanently, according to an attorney who represents the school. 

Attorney Aaron Hopkins represents the college and confirmed to The Southern on Saturday that Morthland College will end its operation after about seven years. 

College graduated its final class earlier this month. 

WEST FRANKFORT — In a unanimous vote during a special meeting Tuesday, the Illinois Board of Higher Education appointed a hearing officer to o…

Troubles began for the school last year when, after an internal review by the Department of Education, the school’s ability to access federal student aid was cut off. They were put on Heightened Cash Monitoring II status by the DOE, meaning they had to spend their own money upfront and apply for reimbursement from the federal agency, as opposed to drawing down money at the top of a semester. 

The Illinois Board of Higher Education also took action against the college following a lengthy letter from the DOE alleging "illegal" activity, working with prep sports academies to improperly draw down federal student aid for students at the sports academies. They were registered in online classes and not considered regular students, according to the DOE letter.

“Morthland’s misconduct is exemplified by its illegal disbursement of Title IV funds to ineligible students, its improper retention of unearned funds when students ceased attending, its improper handling of Title IV credit balances, its use of an inflated cost of attendance, and its failure to meet Title IV institutional and program eligibility requirements,” Susan D. Crim, director of the department’s Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group, wrote.

WEST FRANKFORT — A recent string of court decisions and tax sales have been added to previously levied fines and liens against Morthland College.

The IBHE put together an investigation that could have resulted in the revocation of the college’s operating ability.

"Exactly 501 days since its last dispersement of federal funds, Morthland College announces that the institution will not open in the Fall of 2018," said a press release from the college.

"Its campus resides in one of the most impoverished counties in the state, where over 90 percent of Morthland College students are in need of federal funding to attend college, and, without a timeline for settlement or the restoration of these funding lines, the institution simply does not have the fiscal resources to open this fall," the release continues.

According to the press release, Morthland College has not yet received a final program review report from the DOE and its appeal of the 2017 emergency action letter has been in negotiation with the DOE since November but the parties have not been able to come to an agreement. 

"Morthland College continues to deny all allegations set forth in the Department’s emergency action letter and remains an ongoing 501C3, not for profit, in good standing with the State of Illinois," the release states. 

The release indicates that the college "remains dedicated" to settling the issues it has with the DOE "whether through an amicable settlement agreement on the part of both parties, a request for a hearing, or through a process for appeals, all of which are pathways given to the institution under the Department of Education’s own statutes." The release states that the timeline for these processes to play out cannot be determined at this time.

According to the release, the college remains in cooperation with the IBHE and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools — the college’s accrediting agency— "in providing pathways for transferability of credit for its current student body and the releasing of academic records for both its current and former students upon request."

The release indicates that some of the other businesses associated with Morthland College — the so-called "guilds" — remain unaffected and have relocated from Franklin to Williamson County, but did not specifically name which ones. There previously was the Da Vinci Beverages company as well as Morthland College Health Services and several other businesses connected to the college through leadership. 

The release said the institutions, the college included, that have had to close their doors, represent 150 jobs lost in what is an already economically depressed region.

Several employees of the college and other Morthland entities have complained of non-payment and some vendors have even sued in civil court to receive payment.

Morthland College and its sister business, Morthland College Health Services, were both also served several IRS tax liens totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Questions regarding the status of these liens were unanswered by college representatives.

Current and former students with questions are asked to contact college representatives at: 1-779-216-5930 or


On Twitter: @ismithreports

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via The Southern

May 27, 2018 at 07:54AM

Morthland College is closing, according to an attorney for the West Frankfort school

Public colleges and universities in Illinois named as some of the nation’s best

ILLINOIS – U.S. News and World Report has released its 2018 list of the best public colleges and universities.

In Illinois, The University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign is ranked highest at #14. University of Illinois – Chicago is #73, Illinois State University is #83, and Southern Illinois University – Carbondale is #122. 

The rankings are based on academic value for the cost, first-year student retention and graduation rates, and the strength of the faculty. 

University of California – Berkley topped the list, which you can see here.

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May 25, 2018 at 08:50PM

Public colleges and universities in Illinois named as some of the nation’s best

IL Rep. Bryant announces petition to stop attacks on SIUC

IL Rep. Bryant announces petition to stop attacks on SIUC

(Source: Illinois House Republican Staff)
(Source: Illinois House Republican Staff)


State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) has announced a petition drive aimed at stopping legislative attacks on Southern Illinois University Carbondale by members of the Illinois House Democrat caucus, led by Speaker Mike Madigan.

“Though the deadline for substantive bills has passed, as I stated two weeks ago, no bad idea is ever truly dead in Springfield,” Bryant said. “And this week the deadline to pass the ‘Attack SIU Carbondale’ legislative package was extended until May 25. Rumors in Springfield are that Rep. Hoffman plans to call the legislation for House floor votes as early as Wednesday.”

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Bryant has made news recently by speaking out during a House Perfunctory Session against HBs 1292, 1293, and 1294.

Last week, Bryant also publicly called for SIU President Randy Dunn to resign, following revelations that Dunn had referred to he and Bryant’s shared Carbondale constituents as, ‘b*******.’

“For the health of the University system and to preserve the future of SIU Carbondale we must defeat these attacks on SIU-C by Mike Madigan and his lieutenants in the House,” Bryant said. “I am urging all my constituents, and every Saluki alumni across Illinois and across the nation to join me and sign the online petition opposing the ‘attack SIU-C package,” Bryant said.

The online petition can be found at

Copyright 2018 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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May 23, 2018 at 12:39PM

IL Rep. Bryant announces petition to stop attacks on SIUC

Evolution of control over Illinois universities favors separate SIUE

Remember when Illinois had a Board of Regents? How about a Board of Governors? Even if you know what they were, I’ll bet you haven’t thought about them in a long while.

Their time passed 22 years ago. But the reason they existed — and what happened to them — have some bearing on what is fast becoming Metro East’s hottest political debate.

It’s about the rivalry heating up at Southern Illinois University between its sort-of siblings in Edwardsville and Carbondale.

We may benefit from a quick look way back, to when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, William Stratton was Illinois governor and returning World War II soldiers created what would remain an enduring demand for higher education.

Lawmakers saw the need for a central organization to coordinate what were then six state universities to maximize efficiency, accessibility and economy. From that, over the objection of all six, came creation of the Illinois Board of Higher Education in 1961.

With a say over which schools can offer which programs, and a voice in managing the state’s allocation to higher education, the IBHE was, and is, a powerful entity.

In 1964. the Legislature created what some dubbed a “system of systems.” The bigger players — the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University — would keep their own boards of trustees to deal with internal matters and the IBHE. The other state universities would be overseen by one of two newly created entities: the Board of Regents or the Board of Governors.

In theory, the smaller universities benefited from boards that carried a broad view and the clout of representing more than one school. But the extra layer was cumbersome. And in any family of several kids, there will come a time when each child thinks another got a bigger helping of the ice cream.

Under a revamp in 1996, seven of the then-eight universities under shared boards were each given their own trustees. (The eighth, Sangamon State, in Springfield, instead became part of the University of Illinois.)

Although SIU effectively had split Carbondale and Edwardsville into separate institutions by the end of the 1960s, they continued to share a system president and a board of trustees whose job, in part, is to balance the campuses’ needs. It’s a vestige of the system of systems.

That delivers us to now, and a bruising fight over the allocation of SIU’s available money. About 64 percent goes to the struggling campus at Carbondale even though growth in Edwardsville may give it the greater enrollment before the end of this year.

It seemed like just a skirmish when I wrote a month ago about anger over the SIU trustees’ choice not to transfer $5.1 million to Edwardsville from Carbondale. (This, after SIUE had lent up to $35 million to SIUC to keep it solvent last year; the money was repaid.)

Legislation subsequently was introduced by state Rep, Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, and others to divide the two SIUs altogether, or at least to split revenue equally between them.

Petitions to divorce the campuses have failed during skirmishes before. But this time, it looks more like war.

The system president, Randy Dunn, lost some credibility down south when a freedom of information request dislodged his email to colleagues that referred to “bitchers in Carbondale” who opposed the $5.1 million transfer. (Dad got caught siding with one sibling over the other.)

Dunn apologized for the remark but not for supporting the proposed transfer. He has taken withering verbal fire — including calls for his resignation — from some SIUC partisans. They insist that the campus, which has suffered plummeting enrollment, cannot afford to lose any revenue.

What really caught my attention was an “open letter” offered a few days ago by the immediate five past chancellors of SIUE, whose tenures date to 1994.

They supported the $5.1 million shift, and added, ”Even adjusting for the greater doctoral level work at Carbondale, the analysis underlying the proposal showed that between $17 million and $23 million needed to be shifted from Carbondale to Edwardsville.”

The chancellors concluded, “SIUE at one time benefited from being part of the SIU System, but that is no longer the case. If the Board of Trustees cannot live up to its fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Illinois and the University at Edwardsville, it is time for a change.”

That’s strong stuff from serious-minded people who offer firm evidence of a big-dollar disparity.

Since dissolution of the Board of Regents and Board of Governors, the Illinois universities they ruled have gotten along just fine. SIUE does not yet enjoy such independence.

It appears to be just too much to expect a single board of trustees to give the prospering SIUE what it deserves while managing the desperation of a faltering SIUC. The kind thing would be to remove the dilemma.

None of the other state universities in Illinois must fight each other one-on-one for money. I think that single fact illuminates the answer.

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May 23, 2018 at 11:36AM

Evolution of control over Illinois universities favors separate SIUE

Discover, NIU announce partnership for new student innovation program

DeKALB – Students soon will have the opportunity to help develop new technologies through a new partnership between Northern Illinois University and Discover Financial Services on NIU’s DeKalb campus.

Starting in the fall, 40 to 50 students will be paid an hourly wage for no more than 19 hours a week to work on and help develop new Discover technologies in mobile-software development, web-application coding and person-to-person direct payment systems through the Discover Campus Innovator Program.

Joel Suchomel, vice president of application development at Discover and an NIU alumnus, said he had the idea for the partnership program a couple of years ago when he visited NIU to speak to the computer science club on campus. He said it’s getting more and more challenging to hire technical people since more companies than ever need that kind of talent.

“We’re all competing for the same tech talent,” Suchomel said.

The program will run through a newly renovated part of “71 North,” the university’s space for hands-on learning and business collaborations centrally located on the bottom level of Founders Memorial Library.

Karinne Bredberg, innovative partnership specialist with NIU, said Discover took more than 100 applications from students for the program and completed interviews before the last semester ended.

Bredberg said NIU has a lot of partnerships with off-campus companies currently. However, she said, the announced partnership between Discover and NIU, which was finalized in March, is unique and will be much larger and more engaging for students.

Bredberg said selected students have the option of receiving internship credit, but the partnership is really about experiential learning for students. She said it’s about encouraging students to think outside of the box.

“It really broadens the scope to what students are learning in the classroom and applying it to business setting,” Bredberg said.

Suchomel said this is the first partnership of its kind Discover has entered into with a university. He said the company wanted to do a program such as this so students can have a large company such as Discover on their resume during their academic career.

“Instead of working at the local pizza place, they’re working at Discover,” Suchomel said.

Students interested in the program for future semesters must have a 3.0 GPA. The program is meant for students who are developing expertise in professional areas such as computer science, computer engineering, telecommunications, networking, informatics, information security and operations management, and information systems.

Bredberg said the hope is to have this collaboration open the door for similar programs.

“It really highlights how our alumni are thinking of innovative ways to give back to the university,” Bredberg said.

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May 23, 2018 at 01:20AM

Discover, NIU announce partnership for new student innovation program

ICC works on workforce development

PEORIA — By July, Illinois Central College will have placed 15 students in a newly revamped apprenticeship for industrial maintenance. The students can earn while they learn, as ICC puts it.

One aspect of Andrew Kerr’s job in the new position of associate vice president of workforce development involves helping ICC develop many more similar apprenticeship programs in health care, information technology and manufacturing.

There’s a simple reason the programs don’t exist already, Kerr says.

“Higher education has been wonderful at building programs that there’s no need for.”

Kerr’s role and other changes represent how the college is reinventing itself to meet the needs of employers, prospective employees, and the economic vitality of the area, according to ICC President Sheila Quirk-Bailey.

Forty percent of adults in the Peoria region have some kinds of post-secondary credential, she says, whether it’s a degree, an apprenticeship or a certification denoting specific skills.

“That means 60 percent don’t,” she continues, “and that percentage is exactly inverted from what you need to have a growing economy.”

Area employers struggle to find skilled workers, particularly in health care, IT and manufacturing. Quirk-Bailey says the three areas are dealing with “major shortages,” forcing local employers to recruit workers from out-of-town.

The skills gap also makes it difficult to attract and retain businesses. Meanwhile, many workers are stuck in low-paying jobs because they don’t have the skills employers need.

In its reinvented role, ICC wants to more responsive to industry needs, Kerr says.

For example, under the old model, the industrial maintenance program was known as mechatronics, which combines skills in electronics, mechanics and computer operations. Students could earn an associate’s degree within two years.

In the new model, renamed industrial maintenance to match industry standards, students go back and forth between intensive classroom training and intensive on-the-job training, applying the skills they learn in class. They’re students, but they’re also paid employees during the 2½-year program, eligible to graduate with an associate’s degree, industry certification and the guarantee of a well-paying job. Employers pay tuition.

The employers who sponsor them are essentially growing a trained workforce at a lower cost than if they used current hiring models to find skilled employees. The students are employees who happen to be taking classes, Kerr says.

Three manufacturing companies, including Caterpillar Inc., have already signed on with the industrial maintenance programs. Kerr and Quirk-Bailey are recruiting other companies.

Kerr estimates 200 to 300 people will apply for 15 slots. He predicts 30 to 45 will be qualified applicants, which leads to the aspect of workforce development he’s most passionate about.

If only 15 people get into the program, that means 185 to 285 won’t.

He wants to make sure the 15 to 30 other qualified applicants know of other options and that the vast majority take steps to become qualified, including passing tests on English and basic mechanics. Applicants must have also have two years of high school algebra and a year of geometry.

“I’m not concerned about getting qualified applicants, I’m concerned about making sure no one is left behind.”

His position coordinates the work of four departments — workforce development, college and career readiness, corporate and community education, and career services. Those departments, as well as the college’s other department, can offer help to students who don’t qualify, such as enrolling in math classes.

An ICC alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Illinois University, Kerr worked in adult education programs for 25 years. He says he saw how generational poverty stunted opportunities.

“That opened my eyes to a whole group of people who really want to succeed but don’t have the tools,” he says. “Providing those tools has been my mission for the last 25 years.”

Pam Adams can be reached at 686-3245 or Follow her on Twitter @padamspam.



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May 22, 2018 at 09:14PM

ICC works on workforce development