Leaders urge caution in Hoffman Estates project

By Sabryna Cornish

Three area legislators are asking the Illinois Board of Higher Education to use caution when examining NIU’s Hoffman Estates project.

And officials at Roosevelt University are getting ready to protest the NIU extension to the IBHE.

State Sen. Virginia Macdonald, R-Arlington Heights, and State Reps. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights and Bernie Pedersen, R-Palatine, asked the IBHE “to review carefully” NIU’s plans to expand to Hoffman Estates.

“When education dollars are so tightly stretched, we must be prudent with expansion plans,” Macdonald said.

Macdonald said universities cannot adequately support their programs now, so “how will we be able to support a major expansion like this?”

David Lansing, dean of administration for Roosevelt University—a school that feels threatened by NIU’s proposed expansion—prepared a report given to the IBHE stating “the price tag for building new campuses, public or private, is astronomical.”

He also said NIU’s plans to expand “without any comprehensive planning process sets a dangerous precedent” because it will be within 15 minutes of the branch campuses of Northeastern Illinois University and Governors State University, both in Rolling Meadows.

Although NIU is not asking for state funds for the construction of the Hoffman Estates project, “the taxpayer will be asked to pay for additional professors’ salaries, the upkeep and maintenance of the facility and the many other costs which are not related to construction,” Harris said.

“Harper College, Elgin Community College, Roosevelt University and Oakton College are all within 10 to 15 miles of each other,” Pedersen said. “Couldn’t the existing schools provide the training NIU is proposing?”

Representatives from Roosevelt will speak at the IBHE’s Dec. 4 meeting about NIU’s expansion plans.