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SIUE has more students than SIUC for first time. Will it get more money, too?

Belleville News Democrat

Thursday, September 6, 2018  |  Article  |  By Lexi Cortes

Budget--State (8) , Education--Higher (37)
Southern Illinois University’s Edwardsville campus now has more students than the flagship campus in Carbondale for the first time, according to enrollment data released Tuesday.

The news comes after months of debate on whether the university system’s leaders should send more state money to SIUE because more students are studying there while fewer are attending SIUC almost every year.

Next week, the board of trustees is expected to choose a consultant to conduct a study and make a recommendation about how much cash should be given to each campus; it’s on the agenda for trustees’ Sept. 13 meeting in Edwardsville.

SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook said he thinks the enrollment numbers would be “an important factor” in a consultant’s recommendation.

The numbers

The Edwardsville campus enrolled 13,281 students for fall 2018, while SIUC enrolled 12,817 — a difference of 464 students.

Carbondale’s enrollment is now almost half of what it had been at its peak in 1991 with 24,869 students, according to the Southern Illinoisan.

Supporters of a shift in funding have said that the Edwardsville campus needs the money to support its growing student body. Opponents argue that taking money away from the Carbondale campus could harm the local and regional economies, as well as SIUC’s programs.

Pembrook said the fact that SIUE has surpassed SIUC in enrollment underscores the point that proponents were trying to make: “that the time is right” for a review of how the system distributes its money.

The conversation began in April, when then-SIU President Randy Dunn recommended sending about $5.1 million of Carbondale’s state money to Edwardsville because of enrollment gains.

Dunn has since stepped down because of criticism stemming from that recommendation. A former dean of the SIU School of Medicine, J. Kevin Dorsey, was appointed to temporarily replace Dunn.

Legislation to split the university system was also proposed after trustees rejected the $5.1 million proposal. State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, has said that bill and others related to SIU are on hold until the study takes place.

By April 13, 2018, state representatives with ties to the metro-east had filed a three-bill package related to the Southern Illinois University system. Here are the events that led up to the proposals in Springfield.