Higher Education | WGLT

Higher Education

Cell phone showing FAFSA website
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

Illinois is now the third state to require graduating high school seniors fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as the FAFSA form.

Heartland Community College
Staff / WGLT

The Heartland Community College board on Tuesday approved a tentative $32 million operating budget for fiscal year 2020, which begins July 1.

At the beginning of their June 14 meeting, Western Illinois University trustees agreed to a plan that calls for WIU President Jack Thomas to step down on June 30.  After the 7.5 hour meeting, Tri States Public Radio talked to Board of Trustees Chairperson Greg Aguilar about the deal.

WIU President Resigns

Jun 14, 2019
Western Illinois University / Facebook

The president of Western Illinois University is resigning at the end of June after eight years in the post.

Jack Thomas has told an audience of about 200 people that Western Illinois "would best be served by new leadership" at a "pivotal time" for the school.

Thomas has been under fire from alumni and others. The Quad-City Times reports that enrollment has dropped 35% in the last decade, although administrators say it's due to many factors, including population trends and cuts in state support.

Unit 5 Board Members in their meeting room
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Heartland Community College said high school students across central Illinois have saved $4.9 million in community college tuition and fees with dual credit courses through their high schools over the last five years. Sixteen high schools participate in the program with HCC.

Jack Thomas
Rich Egger / Tri States Public Radio

A group that represents alumni at Western Illinois University is urging the president to resign.

Teacher helps student at computer
Carleigh Gray / WGLT

The Heartland Community College board on Tuesday approved a new union contract with its adjunct faculty, guaranteeing at least 2% per-credit-hour raises over the next three years.

Jack poses
Courtest of Jack Whitsitt

It's graduation season, and thousands of students are walking across the stage this month at Illinois colleges and universities.

Students walk in the quad
Cindy Le / WGLT

The cost of attending Illinois State University in the fall would rise about 1.3%, according to a proposal going to the Board of Trustees on Friday.

Keith greets candidates
Amy Niebur / WGLT

Two candidates for a seat on the Heartland Community College Board both said they want to be careful to keep property taxes as low as possible, as did a third who is running uncontested.

Heartland Community College
Staff / WGLT

Heartland Community College is looking to double the number of athletic programs it offers in hopes of attracting more students.

Corey and Karrin
Ryan Denham / WGLT

Corey Ostling and Karrin Hawkins are Unit 5’s first-ever high school college and career counselors.

And after almost one full school year in their new roles, even their job titles are a work in progress.

A large crowd gathered late Wednesday afternoon in front of Western Illinois University's main administrative building on the Macomb campus.

Faculty, students, staff, and community members huddled on the steps of Sherman Hall in the cold, chanting, and waving signs with messages such as "Faculty is committed to WIU,"  "Teaching makes admin jobs possible," and "Fight for our families." The group was there for a rally in support of the 132 employees who received layoff notices on March 1.

Officials from each of Illinois' public universities traveled to the statehouse this week to tell lawmakers about their leaky roofs, outdated science labs and broken air conditioners, in hopes of getting funding to fix them. It’s part of a push toward a public works program, known in the legislature as a capital bill. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has promised the state will spend billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements, and public agencies are lining up to ask for a piece of that pie.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz said he's in favor of better communication with student landlords.

Dietz said he will meet next month with apartment owners concerned the university is building up to 1,200 new student beds in a pod format.

Illinois could save millions of dollars on incarceration costs if the federal ban on Pell Grants for inmates was lifted, according to a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice. Pell Grants are awarded to low-income undergraduate students to help them pay for college.

A state lawmaker has proposed a plan to use state funds to build a new higher education center in downtown Springfield.

State Senator Andy Manar (D, Bunker Hill) introduced legislation on Wednesday that calls for $50 million to build a campus and public affairs center. The proposed building would sit within a mile of Southern Illinois University's existing medical school.

NIU students walk
NIU

Northern Illinois University has a new enrollment plan that aims to have 18,000 students by fall 2023.

Like many people coming out of prison, Perry Cline never thought he’d get a college degree.

 

“I thought I was just going to be another bum in the streets,” he said. “So I thank God that he got something else for me. And this is just the beginning.”

Richard Vogel / AP Photo

Illinois’ new governor JB Pritzker has said he wants to legalize, tax, and regulate the sale of recreational marijuana. That move would complicate life for University leaders around Illinois and in Bloomington-Normal.

Pat Vickerman
Eric Stock / WGLT

Illinois State University is 90 percent of the way toward its $150 million fundraising goal.

Four years ago, Chris Miner decided to apply to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Then 40-years-old, Miner was encouraged to apply by a counselor at the community college he attended. He was told he was a shoo-in.

He sat down at his computer and started the application. But then Miner faced this question: Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

“I just sat there and stared at the screen for like 10 minutes,” he said. “It was like everything, every advancement I had made so far might be over with, maybe this is the end of the ride.”

Emma Shores / WGLT

Illinois State University is banding together with 130 other public institutions to collaborate on new best practices to keep students in school through graduation.

Staff / WGLT

Illinois State University is planning to expand the University Farm by 80 acres.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, a few high school students are measuring and cutting siding.

They’re building a house in the trades class at the Capital Area Career Center in Springfield and learning construction skills, like putting on a roof or installing a window.

Shelby Landers is one of the students hammering siding on to the front of the house. The 17-year-old senior says he was happy to leave the classroom and get more hands-on experience.

WGLT

A bond rating agency said its outlook on Illinois Wesleyan University is negative and no longer stable. Enrollment grew this year at the liberal arts school in Bloomington. But, Moody's Investors Service says a legacy of falling enrollment and net tuition revenue at IWU will contribute to imbalanced operations as existing smaller class sizes cycle through the school.

Tony Sanders is the CEO of Unit 46 in Elgin — the state's second-largest school district, with almost 40,000 students. Right now, he's short at least 30 teachers. He's using retired teachers as long-term substitutes. Even though those retirees can teach only 120 days out of the 178-day school year, Sanders knows he’s got it better than superintendents in districts that don’t have a deep bench of subs.

"Yeah, if it weren't for retirees, we would really be in a jam,” Sanders says. “Luckily, a lot of retirees like to come back and still be in a classroom."

The recording of a closed door meeting held by the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees reveals board members repeatedly violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA).

Every college campus has standards and policies to prevent sexual harassment. But time and again, repeated complaints are filed against professors for saying and doing inappropriate things -- yet they often keep their jobs. Documents and interviews from two recent cases on campuses in Illinois shed some light on the reasons why this remains a persistent issue at many schools.

Western Illinois University is considering whether to eliminate more academic programs as it continues to grapple with falling student enrollment numbers and looks to get back on solid financial footing.

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