It is predictable that the academicians and administration at Southern Illinois University Carbondale rallied to protect their money.
It is predictable that Democratic state Rep. Jay Hoffman reacted to the money vote by again pushing a bill to separate the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses.
And it is predictable that the university system will over-complicate an unfair funding system to the point that the status quo is preserved for years to come rather than fixing it now and later addressing the malady in Carbondale.
Trustees by one vote rejected a proposal to shift $5.1 million in state aid from the Carbondale to the Edwardsville campus. Steep enrollment losses at the Carbondale campus and increases in Edwardsville have the two with nearly equal student populations, but no change to the arcane funding formula that values SIUC at 64 percent and SIUE at 36 percent.
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Institutional inertia, with a side of ethics, is blocking SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno from fixing the Carbondale climate and a structure believed responsible for their stunning enrollment decline. A 20-percent drop in fall freshman enrollment should be greeted as a fire alarm, but Professor Wagstaff and his crew are hitting the snooze button and pretending they are still a 22,000-student research institution rather than a 14.5K student campus.
We don't need to split campuses and create more ossified university bureaucracy. We need to put tax dollars where the students are.
Trustees need to revisit this issue soon — not in a year or two after further study. Treating Carbondale's massive overhead as a given that cannot be touched is foolish as students buy an education from the institutions that show a better return on their investment, e.g. an education that fosters success in modern occupations. Worrying that the Carbondale economy “would be devastated” by shifting a small portion of the state money is beyond the university's mission and an upside-down view of spending tuition and tax dollars.
If trustees continue to allow legacy costs and support for irrelevant academic programs to block change, then students will continue to seek out better values that deliver better professional outcomes without trekking to the middle of the woods. Smarter to recognize opportunity and invest in your growth potential, which at present is in Edwardsville.