DuPage multi-university develops

By Vickie Snow

LISLE, Ill.—Debate about degree offerings and equal participation among colleges to be involved with the DuPage multi-university occurred at a local business presentation Wednesday.

The multi-university will allow NIU to expand in the western suburbs and boost development along the high-tech I-88 corridor.

epresentatives from the University of Illlinois at Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology presented their sides to about 50 people. The multi-university’s list of active participants includes NIU, U of I at Champaign and Chicago campuses, Northwestern University, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Laboratory.

“We came into the project with the idea that this is something everybody wants – now I’m not so sure,” said Irving Miller, projects planning director at U of I, before encouraging input from the audience.

“There’s a good likelihood we won’t see the project this century,” Miller said, partly because in addition to determining course and degree offerings, a site must be selected.

IIT is a “potential” participant depending on how the center’s planning continues, said Edwin Stueben, vice president of IIT West.

Miller said graduate and post-doctoral degrees will be given in science, mathematics and engineering. But Stueben said he wants only Ph.D. programs since master’s degrees are “already well-covered” at other institutions.

Post-doctoral programs are needed for employees who want to take classes and work, he said.

The best way to serve professionals would be to bring in experts from participating universities and offer a two- or three-day short-course format, Stueben said.

U of I has faced charges of abandoning the idea of a “multi-university” and dominating the project.

Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, previously said the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Gov. James Thompson favored U of I by naming it the leading institution and awarding it $3 million last October to launch the planning.

U of I representatives recently tried to eliminate such fears by meeting with area college and business leaders. As a result, the once-called “U of I DuPage Center” changed its name to the Center for Advanced Education Research.

The switch will help to lessen the fears, but not erase them, Miller said.

But he said U of I has no control over what the state decides. “It’s natural for (the state legislature) to ask the U of I since it has a national and international stature in science technology,” Miller said.

The project is “not a U of I project, it’s a U of I management project. All participants will have equal access to the facility,” he said.

“We don’t want anyone shut out,” he said when representatives from smaller colleges questioned the center’s threat to their programs.

A representative from North Central College in Naperville said the smaller colleges “have a lot at stake in terms of programs that will be offered.”