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ISU trustees are set to consider new dorms, dining and a new engineering college

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WGLT file photo
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This file photo shows Manchester and Hewitt halls on the Illinois State University campus.

Illinois State University plans to take the final step toward creating a new College of Engineering on Friday.

The university’s Board of Trustees also will consider plans for new student housing, tuition and fee increases and a longer-term contract for bus service during its quarterly meeting.

The board is expected to vote on a plan to establish the College of Engineering and commit $3 million to redesign its food service building and physical plant buildings on the north end of campus off Gregory Street in Normal.

ISU officials estimate the renovation engineering college project will cost $61 million. That includes the cost to renovate replacement facilities for warehousing and administrative services that would be moved out of those buildings in the project’s first phase. Those buildings would accommodate 520 students, ISU officials said in documents presented to university trustees.

The second phase would include construction of a new building that would accommodate up to 1,000 students. ISU has requested $111 million from the state of Illinois to pay for construction.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education approved ISU’s plans for the new college in March. The College of Engineering will include departments for electrical and mechanical engineering.

University officials cite surveys that indicate growing demand for engineering workers in Illinois and nationwide.

Student housing

Trustees also will vote on a plan to spend up to $8 million on architectural and engineering plans for a new 1,200-bed residence hall and 700-seat dining center at the former site of the Atkin-Colby and Hamilton-Whitten residence halls.

ISU conducted a study in 2017 that recommended the university build new residence halls and expand “much needed dining services to serve the higher population of students required to live and dine on campus,” the resolution stated.

Project planning began during the summer of 2019, but were put on hold when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The university estimates the campus has 5,800 beds and has lost about 1,100 beds over the last two decades due to age and “significant deferred maintenance costs.”

ISU has set the price tag for construction of the residential and dining halls at $185 million.

Tuition, room and board

ISU is seeking an increase of nearly 3.5% in all costs for full-time undergraduate students next year.

The board will consider a 2.75% tuition increase for new students, including graduate students. In-state students would pay $394.69 per credit hour. Out-of-state students would pay twice that.

Room and board would increase 3% for residents of Cardinal Court and 4.5% for students living elsewhere on campus. Student fees would go up 3%.

If approved, the total cost of attendance for a full-time undergrad would be $26,335.

“With recent reliable funding from the state of Illinois and strategic budgeting, the university will be able to continue to maintain a high quality of instruction, academic services and student life,” the university said in the resolution.

Connect Transit

ISU will consider a three-year, $1.87 million contract with Connect Transit to continue to provide free fixed-route service to university students, faculty and staff.

The university and transit system have previously done shorter-term contracts. ISU officials said the new agreement, which would run through June 2025, comes with annual renewals based on ridership.

The annual base fee of $584,000 marks a 3% increase, but costs could increase if there’s increased ridership or maintenance costs.

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