Letter: Bill would streamline governance of higher education


To the Editor:

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, has introduced a legislative proposal for the creation of a single state board with responsibility for higher education (SB 2597). I believe it outlines a positive means toward the end of a stronger administrative structure for facilitating useful action steps to address priorities for Illinois’ higher education system. I urge members of the Illinois General Assembly to join with Rose in reviewing this proposal further.

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As a single board of higher education, leading a strategic process for development of statewide goals and recommendations for allocating state resources will be more effective.

Simply put, one board, one staff and one organizational structure streamlines the effort. Illinois higher education faces challenges concerning college costs; enrollment shifts resulting from increasing outmigration and changing needs of college students who are older, parenting and working; and establishing effective and forward-looking governance of the Illinois’ higher education system. A unified board and staff organization can better focus on these challenges by being inclusive in representing the needs of students, public community colleges and universities, private institutions of higher education and the faculty and staff serving the higher education system.

The legislation proposes a merger of boards and administrative operations of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. From my role as chairman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, I am convinced that collaboration of common activities is not only necessary, but also should prove more efficient.

I have requested the General Assembly Higher Education Working Group, a bipartisan group of legislators looking comprehensively at ways to improve higher education, to include the proposal on their agenda. I know this conversation will not be simple or without strong sentiments for the status quo, but I commit my attention and our agency to assist in any way we can.

Tom Cross


Letter: Bill would streamline governance of higher education

Jim Dey: Next on legislators’ not-to-do list: Restructuring higher ed


Since the goofs who run the state of Illinois usually do the wrong thing for the wrong reasons, it’s hard to imagine they’ll take any serious action this year on problems that taxpayers recognize, let alone one that runs beneath the surface.

After all, this is an election year. It’s important not to rock the boat, even if it’s taking on dangerous amounts of water.

So the idea that Gov. Bruce Rauner will reach accommodations with legislators on such issues like underfunded pensions, budget deficits and unpaid bills almost defies imagination.

That’s why it’s surprising that state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, decided — no matter how welcome it will be received — to start a conversation on the future of higher education in Illinois, specifically the structure under which the state’s nine four-year schools (12 campuses) and almost 50 community colleges operate.

He wants the Legislature to act promptly on what he perceives as an excess capacity problem — too many institutions offering too many duplicative programs to too few students.

Whether his fellow legislators take him up on the offer or not, Rose said he’s confident they’ll face the issue eventually because declining enrollments will eventually force schools to close — perhaps in five years.

Rose is getting help on the issue that he welcomes.

Rauner, during a recent visit to The News-Gazette, confirmed that he’s considering appointing a bipartisan commission to study and make recommendations on how best to restructure the oversight of the state’s higher-education system.

Simultaneously, the Chicago-based Civic Federation last week released a report in which it, among other things, lent support to the idea of a Rauner commission.

The Civic Federation also recommended that the current oversight of the state’s four-year institutions be scrapped.

It recommended “that the nine universities be governed by a single board of trustees to facilitate the establishment of statewide goals and rationalization of state resources.” Each university now has its own separate board.

The 12 campuses (the University of Illinois has three; Southern Illinois, two) range in size from extremely large to extremely small.

Two UI campuses (Urbana-Champaign and Chicago) accounted for roughly 54,000 undergraduates in fall 2017. Illinois State had another 18,300 undergrads and Northern Illinois, 13,454.

The three smallest were Chicago State, with 2,095 students; UI-Springfield, with 2,932; and Governor’s State, with 3,326.

The Civic Federation complained that the Legislature “has been starving its universities of operating funds for years, with no apparent plan for the most effective allocation of severely limited state resources.”

One of the drivers behind the concerns expressed by Rauner, Rose and the Civic Federation is the substantial out-migration of state high school graduates who are going out to college in states like Missouri, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

“The share of Illinois high school graduates enrolling in four-year colleges who went to out-of-state institutions rose to 46 percent in the fall of 2016 from 29 percent in 2002,” according to the Civic Federation.

Around that same general time period (2008 to 2017), undergraduate enrollment in Illinois fell by 9.9 percent.

With declining enrollments and limited resources, the Civic Federation suggested a Rauner commission “consider the elimination of duplicative programs, reallocation of resources among programs and campuses and the closure and consolidation of campuses.”

Its proposal for a single board, the Civic Federation said, is motivated by a desire to eliminate the “environment in which universities compete against each other for resources” and make it easier for the state’s Board of Higher Education to “establish statewide goals and allocate resources strategically.”

Rose is less interested in a single board of trustees and more interested in putting the Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission under one entity.

He suggests that would permit more strategic planning and less redundant growth than now occurs.

One simple solution, he proposed, is to establish a “uniform admissions process online” that would be accepted by the nine state universities and would allow a student denied admission to one school to be admitted to another.

He said that would “ensure” that any student with minimum credentials would be admitted to a public university.

Rose’s bill also would require the Board of Higher Education “to determine which academic programs should be prioritized at campuses of public universities” and “create and designate Higher Education Strategic Centers of Excellence.” Community colleges, too, would be integrated into this plan.

Restructuring higher education in Illinois is not exactly a hot topic. But like so many others in Illinois, the current situation can’t be ignored without serious negative consequences.

Not, of course, that they’re likely to get much attention from the powers that be.

From their point of view, there are so many important issues and so little time to ignore them all.

Jim Dey, a member of The News-Gazette staff, can be reached by email at jdey@news-gazette.com or by phone at 217-351-5369.

Jim Dey: Next on legislators’ not-to-do list: Restructuring higher ed

An apology to my grandchildren


I owe my grandchildren an apology. From an early age I encouraged them that higher education would be rewarded with career opportunities. My granddaughter’s conscientious study to be a teacher rewarded her with a “Golden Apple” scholarship in education that included a summer internship in Chicago.

Recently, she was informed that her internship has been postponed due to the “budget impasse” in Springfield. I should have encouraged her to get a mediocre education, listen to those who complained around her, develop a platform on what “people want to hear,” run for office and get elected.

Then you have it made! You will enjoy a nice salary (whether you accomplish anything or not), health insurance separate from what you legislate for your constituents, and other “perks” unavailable to the common man. Just remember, from day one in office you have one goal – get REELECTED! All those promises made on the campaign trail are moot. Just get REELECTED! Someday you might be as mighty as Michael Madigan (probably not because he will remain in office until they carry him out on his shield!). Unfortunate for Illinois, but the truth.

So, to my granddaughter (and all others suffering from an ineffective state government) I only hope this impasse ends soon so that we as Illini will no longer be a laughing-stock for the rest of the U.S.

Glenn Philpott, Lebanon

An apology to my grandchildren

Editorial: University shouldn’t forget state it serves – The Daily Illini


Editorial: University shouldn’t forget state it serves



Chairman of the Board Edward L. McMillan and President Timothy Killeen attend the Board of Trustees meeting at the Illini Union on Sept. 8. The Editorial Board is concerned that the University is deviating away from its mission with new intiatives to increase enrollment.

Brian Bauer

Brian Bauer

Chairman of the Board Edward L. McMillan and President Timothy Killeen attend the Board of Trustees meeting at the Illini Union on Sept. 8. The Editorial Board is concerned that the University is deviating away from its mission with new intiatives to increase enrollment.

University leaders have often invoked the historical mission of the University — to serve as an educational institution for the people of Illinois who may not have any other opportunity to receive higher education — this year in anticipation of the school’s 150-year anniversary.

Much has changed since 1867, including the makeup of the student population. A school that started with the purpose of educating the residents of our state now trains its eyes on other areas of the country and the world.

The school faces a crisis of purpose as Illinois residents increasingly look outside of the state for their education because of the University’s negligence.

The Board of Trustees discussed this issue at its meeting last week. President Timothy Killeen informed the board that the number of Illinois high schoolers is projected to decrease 14 percent by 2031, equaling a net loss of around 16,000 students.

If these students attended schools within the state, it would increase tuition and fee revenue by $215 million. But in search of even more money from out-of-state students, the University continues to follow its plan of looking outside Illinois for students.

This isn’t to say that we don’t understand it. We do.

In order to be considered a first-class institution, the University’s arm must reach as far and wide as it possibly can to influence as many people as possible. It needs name recognition and societal impact to accomplish its goals.

The problem does not stem from broadening the horizons of the school or diversifying the student population. It comes from forgetting its roots — the residents of Illinois.

The people at home must not be forgotten or pushed to the wayside.

The Illinois General Assembly keeps making it hard to serve the poorer students, by underfunding financial aid and the University.

But the solution isn’t to allow these students to go elsewhere. They should be able to look at the University and count on it to serve them. If they can get into the school, money shouldn’t stand in the way.

When President Killeen says students are leaving and the University needs to look in new places to increase enrollment numbers, the logic is wrong. A new problem is occurring, but perhaps there is an old solution. In the past, Illinois residents didn’t flock to other states for college.

So, to the University administration we ask: as the 150-year celebration begins, take some time to return to old ideas and think about how the school used to serve the state. Some of these ideas might still work today.

Instead of turning the sights of the University ever outward, reflect inward and recognize the gifted Illinois students who are willing to pay out-of-state tuition rather than attend “one of the best universities in the world.”

The original purpose of the University is still an important goal. Please don’t discount Illinois when you are striving to change the world.

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Editorial: University shouldn’t forget state it serves – The Daily Illini

Our View: Real budget could help keep people in Illinois

http://ift.tt/2heGQTKBy The Editorial BoardRockford Register Star

No one is surprised that Illinois lost more residents in 2016 than any other state. There’s been a lot of hand-wringing, shoulder shrugging and general angst that Illinois lost 37,508 people, which puts its population at the lowest it’s been in at least a decade.

That’s important information to have. So who’s going to do something about it?

The reasons people leave are no secret to Illinoisans: high taxes, the state budget stalemate, crime, the unemployment rate and the weather.

Nothing can be done about the weather, but those other four items can be fixed — or at least our lawmakers could TRY.

“People are leaving our state looking for more economic opportunity & a lower tax burden. We need to turn IL around,” Gov. Bruce Rauner tweeted last week.

The Illinois unemployment rate is 5.6 percent while the national average is 4.9 percent.

There are success stories on jobs. Amazon announced plans last week to open two distribution centers in Aurora, which will create employment for more than 1,000 people.

Amazon got help from the state in the form of an Edge tax credit worth $12.9 million over 10 years. However, the EDGE program is going to expire Dec. 31.

The Edge program, which started in 1999 under Gov. George Ryan, is credited with creating 34,000 jobs and retaining 46,000. How many potential jobs will Illinois lose if Edge expires?

Another jobs success story is here in Rockford. AAR Corp., a global leader in the aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul industry, has set up shop at Chicago Rockford International Airport and will bring 500 and perhaps as many as 1,000 jobs.

One of the reasons the deal was possible was because the state of Illinois promised $15 million for the project. Because of the lack of a budget, the state has not been able to pay. Five local banks stepped in to extend a $17 million line of credit to the Greater Rockford Airport Authority, ensuring the jet-repair hub would be completed on schedule.

The examples above show what a critical role the state of Illinois plays in attracting and retaining jobs.

If there were more jobs that paid well, fewer people would flee the state. If there were more jobs available, fewer people would turn to crime.

And, if more people are working and paying taxes, the tax base increases, decreasing the burden on everyone.

To make matters worse, some of the state’s best and brightest young people are deciding to pursue their educations in other states.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education reported that enrollment is dropping in all centers of higher education in Illinois — public universities, community colleges and private colleges.

Illinois State University and the three University of Illinois campuses showed slight increases; all other public schools declined by an average of almost 3 percent compared to last year.

Some lawmakers blame the state’s budget uncertainty for the decline. Public universities are operating under the stopgap budget that is set to expire at the end of the month. Funding for schools is uncertain after that.

Illinois’ population is expected to continue its decline. Illinois still is the fifth-most populous state in the U.S., but this was the third consecutive year in which Illinois was among the few states to lose residents. The Illinois population stands at 12,801,539.

Illinois’ population first began to drop in 2014 and that number more than tripled in 2015. The 2016 numbers just continued that bad trend.

If Illinois had a budget, perhaps the thousands who fled would have decided to stay. One way to find out is for lawmakers to adopt a budget as soon as possible and see whether that helps reverse the population trend.

If not, please let us know where the switch is so that we can turn out the lights when we’re the last to leave.

Our View: Real budget could help keep people in Illinois