The state legislature will hold hearings on the future of the Southern Illinois University system after the SIU board voted to oppose all measures proposing changes to its funding split between the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses.
The SIU board met in a special meeting Wednesday to address the myriad solutions proposed in a series of bills regarding the current 64-36 percent split of funding between the two campuses in the SIU system.
A proposal in April to shift approximately $5.1 million from Carbondale to Edwardsville, creating a 60-40 split, was voted down 4-3 by the board of trustees.
The solutions currently pending in the legislature include: a 50-50 split in state funding; dissolving the board and reconstituting it with an even split between Edwardsville and Carbondale representatives; and dissolving the system entirely, creating two separate universities and aligning the dental and medical schools with Edwardsville.
The SIU board voted Wednesday to oppose all three options. It also voted to neither oppose nor support a proposed independent study conducted by the Illinois Board of Higher Education to determine the fairest split of state funding.
Now state Reps. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville; Jay Hofffman, D-Swansea; Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey; and LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, plan to hold a series of hearings with the board of trustees to explore solutions to the issue.
The metro-east legislators issued a joint statement Thursday announcing they are holding off on the various bills until the hearings, declaring that they are committed to the entire university, but believe SIUE is not being treated fairly.
“It is time for the SIU system to acknowledge that Edwardsville is a full partner, with nearly identical enrollment, and its own unique set of objectives,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, the current board has chosen to handle Edwardsville as a second-class institution. Their current actions may be misled in representing the interests of students, faculty, staff and the entire SIUE community.”
The statement said the legislators are willing to cooperate the board in the hope of a solution that is “reasonable and fair for both Edwardsville and Carbondale.”