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, along with one Democratic lawmaker, from 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.