NIU puts education first

It’s about time NIU showed some financial smarts.

At long last, they’ve pulled out of talks for the Wurlitzer property, something they’ve been eyeing for two years or so. If times were better—as they were when NIU began looking—things would be different.

But times aren’t good. This country is knee-deep in a recession and this state already has sunk into a similar swamp. There’s no state money for anything, something NIU usually seems to ignore. This time, though, they’re realizing it.

NIU wanted the $1.75 million former piano factory, which was owned by GTE, for a research center. It is close to campus and probably would have served this intended purpose well.

However, requests for money to buy it met the veto of former Gov. James Thompson. And Thompson was a far easier sell than Edgar, who’s out to dramatically cut state funding to lead Illinois into better times.

It’s refreshing to see NIU put an end to the negotiations which might’ve dragged on for years with little progress. What’s more, it’s about time NIU officials saw that the need for keeping education alive outweighs the need for research, no matter how much those two might be connected.

It might someday be beneficial to try expanding during a tough economic climate but right now it’s not practical. What little money there is must be spent maintaining classes and not buying and renovating buildings for research.

NIU deserves a little credit for pulling out of the talks. Maybe now officials will stop looking into some other projects and focusing on education.