Universities to found DuPage study center

By Katrina Kelly

NIU will play a key role in the establishment of a DuPage county center for graduate study and research, which will be a cooperative effort with the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and three other Illinois schools.

Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago and Northwestern University also are involved in the project.

NIU President John LaTourette called the center a “cooperative effort” between the five schools, with NIU, the U of I and IIT focusing their attentions on the center’s Office of Continuing Professional Education. NU and UIC primarily will be involved in the center’s Institute for Advanced Science, he said.

Establishment of the center will not directly affect the NIU campus, LaTourette said. Indirect benefits to NIU’s laboratories and classrooms will come from the center’s ability to provide new research opportunities for faculty, he said.

The center will offer instruction in research areas that will promote the development of the west Chicago suburbs as an internationally recognized region for high level research, LaTourette said.

William Young, dean of NIU’s College of Continuing Education, said although NIU and U of I “can work very well together” in establishing the center, NIU seeks more involvement in the project than it now holds.

“I don’t think NIU would entirely support U of I as the lead institution (in operating the center),” he said. It is not yet clear “which would be the lead institution” in developing the center, he said.

Young supports teamwork between NIU and U of I in shaping the graduate study center. “U of I has tried to become the university in the lead. … There should be co-leadership. U of I has to work with us,” he said.

Robert Bender, U of I associate vice president for academic affairs, said U of I is “providing leadership” for the project and is working with NIU and the three other schools. The Illinois General Assembly recently allocated $13 million in state funds to the U of I for two studies on the educational needs of DuPage and Kane counties, he said.

An article in Monday’s Chicago Tribune states the Illinois Board of Higher Education encourages Illinois’ higher education institutions to form a “multi-university” in DuPage County, instead of vying for a key position in the education market of Chicago’s far western suburbs. The “high-tech” corridor, symbolized by Interstate 88 stretching from west of Aurora through DuPage County, is a “volatile area” in terms of education, Young said.

LaTourette called the center a “measured response” to the education needs of DuPage County. “It is a reasonable approach to the need there without causing all of us (universities) financial strain,” he said.

Bender said a “multi-university” would provide a “single focus for research opportunities” and would be more beneficial than several schools competing for students in DuPage County.

DuPage County includes four schools with strong ties to NIU: Illinois Benedictine College, North Central College, Elmhurst College and Aurora University, Young said. DuPage County was the home of between one-fourth and one-third of the 8,102 students enrolled in off-campus classes in the 1988-89 summer, fall and spring semesters, he said.

LaTourette, who has just returned from a meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, said the board had called representatives of the five universities together to discuss the center. “Each (school) will review and react to research themes this month and also will put together programs and courses now offered” to establish the center’s curriculum, he said.

The center’s advanced science institute will focus on “research and advanced doctoral work” through partnerships between various universities and DuPage County companies, according to an article in Monday’s Chicago Tribune.

Several degrees will be offered in educational fields such as early childhood, elementary, secondary, adult and continuing education, Young said.

A master’s degree in business administration also will be offered, as well as baccalaureate degrees in undergraduate nursing and general studies. Art courses and classes aimed toward a master’s degree in public information also are slated, Young said.

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