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EIU trustee says school's turnaround could be model

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Wednesday, September 5, 2018  |  Article  |  By Benjamin Yount

Budget--State (8) , Education--Higher (37)
One Eastern Illinois University trustee says the state's other struggling universities may want to look to EIU to get their schools back on track. 

Three years ago, Eastern Illinois University Trustee Dan Caulkins said the outlook for the school was gloomy. Enrollment was falling, the school had just spent $25 million from reserves, and then Illinois' budget stalemate came. 

But Caulkins said over the past three years, EIU has cut programs, narrowed its focus and turned around its enrollment numbers. 

"We have saved that university," Caulkins said. "I think we are are the poster child for what needs to be done. I don't mean to badmouth these other institutions, but they have not embraced these changes."

Caulkins pointed to EIU's philosophy department as an example.  

"EIU, with 7,200 students, offered a degree in philosophy," Caulkins said. "We had five, full-time, tenured professors in philosophy. We had 32 students majoring in philosophy. How do you do that?"

Caulkins said EIU still offers philosophy classes, but without all of the expense as before.

Caulkins said higher education in Illinois and across the country is changing. And higher education institutions must adapt to the changes.