What’s next for WIU’s expansion project following Illinois budget impasse?

The new Illinois budget includes millions of dollars for public universities after those schools went months without any funding from the state. That's good news for the short term but there could be long term implications for our local institutions.

WQAD News 8 had “Breakfast With..." Vice President Dr. Joe Rives with Western Illinois University Quad Cities Campus on Thursday, September 28th live on Good Morning Quad Cities from Dead Poet's Espresso in Moline to talk about the impact on the school, its halted expansion project and what new things that are happening this year.

Dr. Rives says the budget battle caused a loss of confidence in Illinois public schools with some wondering if higher education could survive. He says half of Illinois graduates move out of the state which hurts the economy.

“It’s going to take time to reverse the perceptions but the best thing residents can do is go to school in Illinois,” added Dr. Rives.

Back in June, the university asked for private funds to stay afloat. Dr. Rives says the university will continue that initiative so it doesn’t have to raise tuition and fees for students.

University leaders had planned a third phase for an expansion project on its riverfront campus in Moline.  WIU allocated $5 million for the project but that has since been put on hold because of the state's budget problems.

“The best thing we can do is continue to grow our enrollment, so we can document to the state that there is need,” said Dr. Rives.

Dr. Rives also told us the school is considering letting Franklin Elementary students use the old WIU campus on 60th street due to the fire at Franklin earlier this week.

We also talked to Dr. Rives about some new initiatives happening this year.

Sexual assaults on college campuses are a problem across the country and WIU is helping women learn how to defend themselves.

The university is offering “Rape Aggression Defense” or “RAD” classes through October.

The 12-hour course is designed for women to learn basic defense mechanisms and how to protect themselves.

The classes aren’t limited to just university students, women from all over our area are encouraged to participate.

“It’s our job to make sure everyone is prepared. Bad people do bad things and if we can teach people to know what actions to take, we have done our jobs as educators,” said Dr. Rives.

The classes will run on Wednesday’s - October 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th from 4 to 7 p.m.

WIU is also holding a “Cookout for Kids” from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, September 29 in Horrabin Hall to benefit playground upgrades for the WIU Infant and Preschool Center.

Special thanks to Dead Poet's Espresso in Moline for hosting WQAD.

 

Next week We are having "Breakfast With..." the president of Augustana College, Steve Bahls about all the new things happening at the school and hear about this year's entering class, which is the college's largest ever.

To see all our "Breakfast With..." discussions, click here.