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Suburban Lawmakers Push for Another Big Ten School in Illinois

Senators Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, and Michael Connelly, R-Naperville, have introduced legislation that will study the feasibility of making one of the current state universities a Big Ten school.

Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, wants to see another Big Ten school in Illinois.
Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, wants to see another Big Ten school in Illinois.

Two suburban senators want to keep college tuition low and retain home-grown talent in Illinois. And they think creating another Big Ten school in the state could help make that happen, according to an Illinois Senate GOP press release.

Senators Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, and Michael Connelly, R-Naperville, have introduced legislation that will study the feasibility of making one of the current state universities a Big Ten school, according to the news release. 

The news release did not specify which Illinois school Murphy and Connelly think should be added as a Big Ten school. 

The Daily Herald reports state lawmakers do not decide which universities play in the Big Ten conference and Big Ten spokesman did not immediately respond to a question over whether they were seeking another school to join its ranks. 

Senate Bill 3526 will 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 and now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

The two lawmakers said the idea developed after learning more and more suburban students leave Illinois to attend other, high-priced Big Ten institutions out-of-state. Murphy said Illinois is the fifth largest state in the country, which creates a competitive admission process at the state’s lone flagship university.

“The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has become highly competitive to the point where we are seeing students with excellent grades and test scores get shut out of attending our in-state, public Big Ten school,” Murphy said. “Many end up choosing to look out-of-state to receive a Big Ten education, costing them and their parents tens of thousands of dollars in higher out-of-state tuition. We should make it easier for these students to stay in Illinois, not look for greener pastures across state lines." 

Connelly noted that other surrounding — and smaller — states have multiple public Big Ten schools, namely Michigan and Indiana.  He said he hoped this effort could be what is needed to retain young people and keep tuition costs lower.

“Given the large number of Illinois residents who attend Big Ten schools outside of our state, the demand for a second in-state Big Ten university is clearly high. It is my hope this commission can find a way to deliver a higher education system that gives our young people the opportunities they seek at a price they and their parents can afford,” he said.

The commission would be comprised of higher education professionals, one member from each of the four legislative caucuses, an Illinois resident paying out-of-state tuition to a Big Ten institution, and a student from Illinois who has left the state to attend another Big Ten institution.  

The commission’s report would be due to the General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2015. 

K8ehoek March 22, 2014 at 10:26 AM
Instead of trying to join the Big Ten to keep students in Illinois, why not lower the cost of these potential schools and improve the quality of their education/programs?
Bernard Johnson March 22, 2014 at 11:50 AM
Pardon me for being blunt about it, but, even thinking[?] and/or seeking to add an additional State of Illinois public 'university' to the Big 10 is indicative of the complete lack of grasping what's either at issue in the woefully inadeqate offerings of the Illinois' state public university system and/or what motivates the vast majority of Illinois-bound high-school seniors. Basketball is a nice sport, but, what percentage of would be college freshman from Illinois either have what it takes to play in the Big Ten and/or choose their universities because of their Big Ten {nor not} status? These political hacks need a freaking wake-up call to reality. The issues are: the cost, the quality of the education on offer {which means the qualifications of the faculty, the faculty : student ratios, the class sizes,who teaches classes {professors, associate professors or graduate students}, access to core classes in one's major and student academic support mechanisms; only then do sports and/or extracurricular activities come under consideration. The University of Illinois is the sole so called 'flag-ship' among what are an otherwise mediocre group of offerings. However, getting into the U of I and - even as a State of Illinois resident, the costs have become prohibitive and non-competitive. The University of Illinois fundamentally breaches its responsibilities to the residents of Illinois when its undergraduate freshman enrollment has dropped below 80% [it's now about 74%] and the non-resident and/or foreign enrollment in among graduate students is 66% non-resident and/or foreign! The Constitution of the State of Illinois specifies that the State will bear the 'primary' responsibility for funding the State's public education; yet, the state actually funds roughly only 20%. 'Primary' means no less than 50.01% and the State's not even close to that mandate. Profoundly high admission requirements, e.g. for engineering, and the extra/additional tuition costs for majors - like engineering, make out of state schools ever more and more appealing for Illinois' high-school students. Rather than seeking to enter another campus in a different bouncy-ball conference, how about if the dire state of the State of Illinois public university system were to demand from the State's legislators that they enforce the State's Constitution dictate on funding, reduce tution costs for State of Illinois residents, reduce the real number and percentage of non-resident/foreign nationals at the U of I, Champaign and get their freaking house in order!!! I've taken a polling of acquaintances in Highland Park and Deerfield whose children are presently seniors at HPHS and/or DHS, and 90% of them are seeking admission to out of state schools. '90%' With HPHS and DHS being two of the top 10 high-schools in Illinois [US News and World Report], does that tell you something? I sure think so! The true costs of the utter fiscal and political mismanagment of Illinois are sending our best and brightest elsewhere, and you can't blame 'em. The intermediate and long-term costs to the State of Illinois and the Midwest in general are and will continue to be profound. The dialectic of Illinois' implosion continues - from mostly self-inflicted wounds.
Bernard Johnson March 22, 2014 at 12:01 PM
PS. The University of Wisconsin spends over $7.5 million a year on their men's basketball program; the State of Illinois can't even pay physicians in Illinois treating Medicaid patients and the state's un-funded pension liabilities excess $100 billion dollars. Murphy and Connelly appear to have delved into their St. Patrick's Day libations early and hard; what else could explain such pandoring to the lowest of the common denominator? This is just another sound-bite and photo-op designed / what passes as policy here in the dire state of the State of Ilinois. Reality-checkpoint, is this about higher-education, or - bouncy-ball pandering the thugs?
Lorriane March 23, 2014 at 05:18 PM
I recommend to my teens that they go put of state and develope roots elsewhere. I don't want them coming back to work in this state and have to pay for this pension mess. No thanks
Mitch Dinges March 23, 2014 at 06:44 PM
Ridiculous to even consider such a thing at the state level. The state has no business whatsoever of embarking on such a matter. These are bored lazy politicians finding nothing else to do because of a Democrat party stranglehold on the state. Why not put pressure on an inept Attorney General to investigate all the nepotism, ethical compliance, and kick-backs and lack of responsibility by our legislature at governing a very very sick state of Illinois. Fix the University of Illinois by letting taxpayers daughter and sons attend and hopefully retain them within the state rather than sending the talent back to the country they came from, or the least make it affordable to go to the politically influenced "corruptllege."

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