University site to be chosen

By Vickie Snow

A DuPage County site for the proposed University of Illinois multi-university, which will include jobs for NIU professors, will be chosen in June.

The center will offer graduate courses taught by professors from U of I at Champaign-Urbana and Chicago, NIU, Northwestern University, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Argonne National Laboratory.

At least six sites along the Interstate 88 high-technology corridor are being considered, said Irving Miller, director of the planning effort and chairman of the chemical engineering department at U of I at Chicago.

“The committee looks at how available sites fit the criteria,” Miller said. The Illinois Board of Trustees “approves and reviews everything done by the committee.”

The selected site must have space for almost 150,000 square feet and be far from distractions, U of I President Stanley Ikenberry said. “No wetland, no bird sanctuary, no shopping mall,” he said.

Ikenberry said the site should be near major highways and industries.

The center’s name is not yet official. It is “at the moment being called the University of Illinois DuPage Center,” Miller said. The campus’s name might be changed later, he said.

U of I is the lead institution in the planning effort and was given $3 million to start the project.

In early January, the Illinois Board of Higher Education also recommended the state legislature approve $25 million for the project.

The center’s course offerings and tuition are additional matters to be decided, but will take longer to decide than the choice of a site, Miller said.

Computer science, engineering and business courses are “likely candidates” for the courses, but courses other than high-tech studies are needed, said NIU Provost Kendall Baker.

The courses will be geared toward adults employed at industries along I_88, rather than typical college-aged students, Miller said.

Tuition at the DuPage center might be higher than courses offerred at the participating universities since employers might pay tuition costs for their employees, Miller said.

At U of I at Champaign-Urbana and Chicago, the tuition is lower than the cost of instruction, but taxpayers pay the difference, Miller said.

“If we run the program primarily for companies, they will pick up the bill,” Miller said.

A problem arises when people not employed at high-tech industries, such as AT&T or Motorola, want to enroll in the courses. “It’s a complicated question,” Miller said.

Miller said there is a higher education need in DuPage County, citing a 715,000 population that is expected to be 900,000 by the year 2005.