Colleges upset about campus

By Galvin Kennedy

Chicago-area community colleges are miffed about the joint venture between NIU and Sears Roebuck and Co. to establish a branch campus in Hoffman Estates.

Meanwhile, NIU officials are determined to squelch fears of turf wars erupting between universities.

In a news conference at Hoffman Estates Monday, NIU President John La Tourette said NIU has eyed the village for several years.

However, representatives from community colleges—fearing the satellite campus will duplicate courses already offered—argued tax payers’ money will go to waste.

The new campus is expected to cost as much as $5 million and cover about 40,000 square feet—slightly less than an acre.

“I wish we could stop the turf war in higher education,” said La Tourette. “I have indicated before that there are a large number of students waiting to be served and we are treating them like second or third class citizens by continuing this debate.”

NIU, Hoffman Estates and Sears discussed the project for about a year, but “we (NIU) have been considering the idea for several years,” La Tourette said.

“We have intentionally focused our efforts at the post-baccalaureate level so that we would not compete with the community college for students,” the president said.

La Tourette projected all of the institutions west and east of Schaumburg will see some substantial enrollment growth in the next several years.

Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves said, “The BOR has given its support to NIU’s extension of the educational process beyond the DeKalb campus.”

Sears will pick up the tab for the infrastructure, including roadways and parking facilities, while Hoffman Estates will donate three acres of land and pay for utility hookups.

NIU’s plan to extend into Rockford should not be offset by the new Hoffman Estates campus because “they are two totally separate projects,” La Tourette said.

“Our primary focus has been at the graduate level in education and business and public administration library science,” La Tourette said.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education will not have to approve the venture because funds will be generated by program charges.

Although a majority of NIU students are from the Chicago suburbs, the DeKalb campus is not expected to lose any students.

The new campus will offer only graduate level courses. More than 76 percent of NIU’s 7,200 graduate students in the Fall of 1989 were either off-campus students or commuters, La Tourette said.

Students should be able to enroll for classes at the new campus once the project is completed in the fall of 1992. La Tourette estimated tuition at the campus to be around $160 per credit hour.