One lawmaker wants an independent study to review funding for the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses of Southern Illinois University, as debate continues over a possible split of the university.
State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said she wants a state study independent from the SIU Board of Trustees to review the division of state funding. The board recently rejected a proposal to shift funding to a 60-40 split between the two campuses, as Edwardsville’s enrollment is nearly equal to Carbondale’s.
The 60-40 split was a long-standing agreement, but has fallen to 64-36 percent in recent years.
Stuart has filed House Resolution 1051 to urge the Illinois Board of Higher Education to conduct an independent study, while the SIU Board of Trustees has promised to conduct its own study.
Meanwhile, Stuart’s House Bill 1294 has passed out of the state House higher education committee, requiring a 50-50 split between the campuses. It will next be considered by the full House. Other legislation proposes an equal number of members from each school on the SIU Board of Trustees, or another measure to split the schools completely.
“The days of Carbondale serving as the main campus and Edwardsville serving as a satellite campus are distant history,” Stuart said.
Stuart, who was an SIUE professor before she was elected to the state legislature, pointed to the SIUE student enrollment growth, the school of pharmacy, nursing school and dental school as part of the campus’ improvement.
“Much of the growth in the city and surrounding area can be attributed to the additional students, staff and faculty the campus attracts to the metro-east,” Stuart said. “I want the Edwardsville campus to be recognized for the growth and accomplishments they have attained.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner said he was “very supportive of both campuses.”
“There are a lot of discussions underway,” he said. “I want just to make sure SIU in Carbondale and SIU in Edwardsville do exceptional work and continue to get great support … Whether they’re together or separate, I want to make sure they thrive and continue to do an outstanding job.”
J.B. Pritzker, the Democratic nominee challenging Rauner in the coming election, said that under Rauner, many students have left the state or chosen not to attend in Illinois because of “the dysfunction in our higher education system because Bruce Rauner has failed to fund it.”
“One of the reasons we’ve had to look at making changes in the university system is because Bruce Rauner has driven faculty out and driven students out,” Pritzker said. “Again, the principle behind whatever decision gets made here ought to be what’s best for the future of building up our universities, not tearing them down.”