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State Senator Rose says the U of I favors its Chicago campus over Urbana when allocating state funds

State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet), seen in a screenshot from video, questions University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen (out of view to the right) during a Senate Appropriations Education Committee hearing in April.

State Senator Chapin Rose says the University of Illinois is not being fair to its flagship campus when it distributes state funds.

Rose, who is a U of I Urbana alum, says his calculations show that the university is giving its Chicago campus more state money on a per-undergraduate basis than it gives to its Urbana campus: $10,073 per student at Chicago versus $7,483 per student at Urbana, for a difference of $2,590 per student in the Chicago campus’ favor.

Rose says the Urbana campus may receive more state money in total than the Chicago campus. But he says Urbana’s higher enrollment means it receives less funding on a per student basis.

“If you were to just equalize the funding, the state tax dollars that are going to the U of I, between the Urbana campus and the Chicago campus, all the students in Urbana would save about a thousand bucks a year on their tuition,” said Rose. “You heard that right, a thousand bucks a year.”

Rose says he worked with numbers supplied by the university but omitted the state funding that goes to the University of Illinois Hospital and the downtown Chicago-based Discovery Partners Institute, which he says would have added even more state funding for the Chicago campus.

But even without the hospital and the DPI, Rose says the seniors who just graduated from the U of I’s Urbana campus, were in effect, subsidizing the Chicago campus with their tuition, due to the different levels of per-student funding.

 “And ask all those graduates what they think about having to pay an extra five grand to go to the U of I, to subsidize the Chicago campus,” said Rose. “Ask them what they think. Then ask their parents. I dare ya.” 

Rose brought up his complaint with U of I System President Timothy Killeen in April, when the University of Illinois System President came before the State Senate Appropriations Education Committee as it considered a funding bill for the U of I in the coming fiscal year.

“Should we start allocating by campus, to make sure Urbana gets what it deserves?” asked Rose.

While defending the academic performance at each of the U of I’s campuses (which also includes the smaller Springfield campus, and medical school campuses in Peoria and Rockford that are overseen by the Chicago campus), Killeen said he would look into the way the university handled its allocations of state funds.

“We’re very proud of our records,” said Killeen. “Now could we tweak that? Yeah, I think it’s on us to take a look at that.”

But a statement from the University of Illinois administration defends its current allocation of state funding to its various campuses, saying those allocations are set for each campus’s particular needs.

“Each of our three universities has a unique mission and set of programs, all with varying cost”, the state from university spokesman Steve Witmer said, “education in a wide range of disciplines for more than 94,000 students every year, as well as research and world-class expertise that drives job creation, solves local and statewide challenges, and contributes to the well-being of people all over Illinois.”

But Rose says the high state funding per student for the U of I’s Chicago campus is evidence that Killeen is favoring it over the Urbana campus, where the university was founded in 1867, 

“He needs to get back to the flagship, to the Research 1, land grant college in Urbana, that is the flagship of the system,” said Rose of Killeen. “This guy needs to spend more time worrying about what the Urbana kids are paying in tuition, and less time worrying about DPI (Discovery Partners Institute) for Chicago.”

(Additional reporting for this story by Emily Hays).

Picture of Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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