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ERIC Number: ED535781
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Oct
Pages: 66
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
For the People: A Report Card on Public Higher Education in Illinois
Diaz, Sandra; Lakemacher, Heather; Mitchell, Charles
American Council of Trustees and Alumni
Illinois is the Land of Lincoln. In this great state, Lincoln got his start as a lawyer and a politician. In his 1832 Address to the People of Sangamon County, Lincoln outlined his vision for a practical and general education in which "every man may receive at least a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions." Nowhere is that maxim of Lincoln's more true than with state universities, which receive special privileges--whether federal land, as in the time of the Morrill Act, or the student loans, scientific research grants, and tax exemptions one sees today--in the expectation that they will fulfill their purpose "for the people." Given that special obligation, it is surely proper to check on how they are doing. As public institutions, they have a responsibility to provide Illinois taxpayers--particularly students and their parents--an excellent education at an affordable cost. That is why in this paper the authors ask: Are they doing this? In exchange for the support and autonomy they receive, are they living up to the public trust? Specifically, this study focuses on four key areas of the public's interest: what students are learning (the curriculum), whether the marketplace of ideas is vibrant (intellectual diversity), how the universities are run (governance), and what a college education costs (affordability). The authors examine ten four-year, state universities that represent more than 90 percent of Illinois' four-year public university enrollment and reflect a range of institutional types. In the most recent year for which figures are available, these institutions collectively enrolled over 185,000 students and made expenditures totaling over six billion dollars. Applying a common educational benchmark--64 percent--they offer Illinois a Passing or Failing grade on each point. The first section focuses on general education--those courses completed usually within the first two years of a bachelor's degree program. In the second section, the authors focus on intellectual diversity, a value that lies at the very heart of the educational enterprise. The third section turns to governance and actions by the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University boards of trustees. Lastly, the authors take a look at cost and effectiveness. Appended are: (1) Selection Criteria for Core Courses; (2) Student Survey Data; and (3) Student Survey Methodology. (Contains 32 footnotes.) [This paper was created with Illinois Policy Institute.]
American Council of Trustees and Alumni. 1726 M Street NW Suite 802, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 888-258-6648; Tel: 202-467-6787; Fax: 202-467-6784; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Council of Trustees and Alumni
Identifiers - Location: Illinois