State to set standards

By Mark Gates

Illinois might have a law dictating academic requirements at state universities by 1993.

Governor Jim Thompson said that requirements need to be flexible enough to admit “students who did not have the opportunity to take the required courses or disadvantaged students admitted to special assistance programs.”

However, Thompson vetoed a state senate bill in August that would have set up a requirement of 15 high school academic units for students looking to enter state colleges.

Senate bill 112 requirements included: four years of English, three years each of social studies, mathematics, science, and two years of electives in foreign language, music, vocational education or art.

Thompson asked for some changes in the bill, which he would then approve, he said. The bill, if passed into law, would go into effect in the fall of 1993.

He wants the bill to include provisions for “applicants who did not have an opportunity to complete the minimum college prepatory curriculum in high school, and educationally disadvantaged applicants” who did not meet the requirements because they were in special education programs.

Thompson’s proposed changes to the bill would make it possible for those applicants to earn degrees if they make up for “course deficiencies” while in college.

Nancy Beasley, legislative aid to Rep. John Countryman, R-DeKalb, said the bill is “in limbo” until October, when the governor may consider it again.

NIU officials’ reactions to the bill have often been less than enthusiastic.

Lou Jean Moyer, associate provost, said if admission requirements are dictated by the state, NIU academic standards might be lowered.

Moyer said that NIU’s current admission requirements have evolved over time to an “excellent admissions plan.”

She said Thompson’s changes to the bill could result in lax admission requirements resulting in incoming students unprepared for college academics.

Moyer said that such requirements would not be beneficial for students. It would be “unkind” to admit students to the university unprepared and “doom them to failure,” she said.

She said colleges should be able to establish their own admission requirements.

Associate Director of Admissions Robert Burk agreed that admission requirements should be determined by universities and not the state.

“Each school should have the autonomy” to set up its own requirements, he said. However, Burk said admissions is ready to comply with the state should the bill pass into law.