NIU might enter ‘high tech. corridor’

By Paul Wagner

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of articles on the “high technology corridor” which will be published in the Star periodically throughout the semester.

NIU might join four other Illinois universities to provide graduate level engineering and computer science classes in the “high technology corridor” in the northwest suburbs of DuPage County.

The colleges became interested in the area after the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) said there is a need for the classes because of the large number of high-tech businesses in the area. These businesses hire a large number of engineers who would need to upgrade their education, said Robert Wallhaus, IBHE deputy director for academic affairs.

The five universities interested in the area are NIU, the University of Illinois at Champaign, Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. A number of private schools and community colleges are already located in the area, Wallhaus said.

Wallhaus said IBHE has brought representatives from the five universities to discuss plans to offer classes in the area. They will be deciding whether to conduct the courses individually, or to operate one or more multi-university centers jointly, Wallhaus said.

NIU President John LaTourette has said he wants NIU to be involved in the operation of one of two multi-university centers.

Eddie Williams, vice president for business affairs, said any courses offered by NIU in the area, whether with other schools or on its own, would probably not affect enrollment in DeKalb. The courses would “not be in competition” with on-campus courses.

Steve Lester, director of public relations at IIT, said, “We are optimistic and anxious to cooperate” on a multi-university center. He said IIT is hopeful the discussions with the other universities at IBHE will enable IIT to be an equitable partner with the other schools. Because IIT is a private school, it cannot offer courses as cheaply as public institutions.

obert Bender, associate vice president for academic affairs at U of I, said the university began offering engineering and computer science classes in the area last year and is willing to cooperate with other schools. He said private colleges have “legitimate” concerns about the expense of offering courses. “I think all of education must be sensitive to those concerns.”

The IBHE has not made a recommendation as to how or if the colleges should work together in making courses available in the area. Wallhaus said the IBHE is conducting a “needs assessment” to help make a future recommendation. The assessment will not be completed until the fall of 1987, he said.