They say it will keep tuition low and retain home-grown talent in Illinois.We've been following the competition of the Midwestern state universities for out-of-state students that pay full freight for years, noting a few Urbana hopefuls that got away, while north of the Cheddar Curtain, Madison's quest for out-of-state students chases high-potential Wisconsin residents elsewhere (including to Illinois?) or has Milwaukee enrolling more in-state students than Madison, unfortunately bringing in their train the collegiate party culture rather than a quest for intellectual challenges.
According to a press release, state Sens. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) and Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) say the idea developed after learning more and more suburban students leave Illinois to attend other, high-priced Big Ten institutions out-of-state.
The measure, Senate Bill 3526, would create a study commission to explore the possibility of establishing an existing Illinois public university as another Big Ten university. The bill passed the Senate Higher Education Committee on March 19. It is expected to be called for a Senate vote soon.
Sen. Murphy says since Illinois is the fifth largest state in the country, that creates a competitive admission process at the state's only flagship university.
"We should make it easier for these students to stay in Illinois, not look for greener pastures across state lines," Sen. Murphy said.Sen. Connelly notes other surrounding, smaller states have multiple Big Ten schools, such as Michigan and Indiana.
In Illinois, Senators Murphy and Connelly hope to perform the upgrade on the cheap.
Requires the Board of Higher Education to establish a Big Ten Feasibility Study Commission to deliberate and determine the feasibility of having another public university in this State become a part of the Big Ten Conference and how this might be accomplished, while remaining revenue neutral to this State. Sets forth the membership of the Commission, and provides that members shall serve without compensation and without reimbursement for their expenses.(The full text of SB 3526 is, mercifully, short.)
I imagine the fantasies that are forming in the minds of our athletics administrators.
And yes, I've long endorsed efforts by our senior administrators to raise the university's academic profile.
But then, there's that revenue neutrality. Eight years ago, or, within the time frame of this cross-border competition for high-achieving students that will pay full freight, conditions at Urbana were so tight that faculty who could get better offers elsewhere were doing so. Not much has changed since then. The legislature's decision to deal with university pension liabilities by simply abolishing a number of benefits after July 1 of this year, rather than phasing the benefits out over time, has simply induced large numbers of senior faculty and staff to take their pensions. More than a few of those people might have been willing to work for a few more years.
Yes, Illinois can keep more native students in its state universities by raising the academic profile of its state universities. On the cheap, though? Doubtful.