Chancellor should focus recruiting on students from Illinois

By Gus Bode

I do not question the honorableness of interim Chancellor Goldman’s intentions, and while his proposed “First Year” program, coupled with slashed tuition for Tri-State students will almost certainly help the rate of retention, both of these programs sadly overlook the greatest problem facing this institution: the neglect of students from in Illinois.

Think of these propositions as a kind of micro-retention: secure and solidify the student base in southern Illinois, work northward through Chicagoland, and then extend into the Tri-States as Goldman suggested. For the chancellor to suggest that tuition rates will be cut for out-of-state enrollment and completely overlook the local population is not only cause for concern, but is also quite outrageous. The total cost of tuition is estimated at more than $20,000 a year. This is more than $1,000 over the median family income of Saline County, and it is unacceptable. In my mind, the retention rate among locally-based students should stand around 90 percent. To do this, the university must turn its focus in two directions, which will help secure the student body and add appeal to students from the Chicago area.

1) A more thorough progressive tuition policy. The university should take into account a policy recently enacted by schools such as Harvard: individualized tuition rating. This policy takes the amount of taxable income for the previous tax year and caps tuition at 10 percent of that amount (so, a $20,000 income would receive a $2,000 bill). Of course, detractors of this policy question its cost effectiveness and ask “Where will the money come from?” As interim Chancellor Goldman suggested, the university should be doing more to reach out to the Alumni Association. To take things a step further, however, more effort must be made to secure block and categorical grants from the state and federal governments by exerting influence over our elected officials. This proposal should be quite easy to accomplish given our current president stands in high regard on both sides of the political spectrum, and is a former Illinois legislator and gubernatorial candidate.

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2) Am I to understand that interim Chancellor Goldman intends to aim the prevalence of this institution’s recruitment power at its “signature programs”? Would we all not fare better if emphasis were given to the academic? Should we not laud the fact that this is a diverse research institution set in natural splendor whose faculty includes postgraduates from Cornell, Oxford and the Sorbonne, as opposed to focusing resources on an automotive program? If you want to study automobiles, go to a junior college. If the chancellor is set on recruiting people in love with automobiles, recruitment should be directed at the College of Engineering, which has the highest retention rate of any college on campus. It would serve both institution and student better to move focus from a debased manufacturing sector (General Motors with its $200 million deficit) toward more progressive fields of trade (designing advanced technologies).

Mings is a sophomore studying international relations.

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