Western Illinois University has entirely replaced their Board of Trustees mid-term. Collin Schopp reports.
As it tries to deal with enrollment and financial problems, Western Illinois University has an entirely new, governor-appointed board of trustees. They include a former WIU professor, a board member of Peoria Public Schools, and a regional manager for Coca-Cola.
Another new member, and the Board Chair, is East Moline resident Greg Aguilar, who works for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce.
His first meeting with the board lasted seven and a half hours.
"We wanted to make sure that the faculty, staff, and administration that were in the room, as well as students, that they were heard," said Aguilar. "Sometimes it's nice to hear compliments and sometimes it's tough to hear complaints. Last meeting we had had a lot of a complaints. We were happy to listen to them and to do our best to try and move forward together as one university."
For Aguilar, the problem is bigger than just Western Illinois University.
"The challenge that we have in Illinois, 48 percent of students that graduate from Illinois high schools are looking at colleges outside of Illinois. We also have 15 percent less high school graduates in the state of Illinois. So when we have less people and less students thinking about going to school in Illinois, it's going to create a struggle for all colleges." said Aguilar.
According to Aguilar, colleges in Illinois need to focus on working together as a statewide higher education community, along with the cities where they're located. Colleges and communities need to support each other with internships, learning opportunities, and other incentives to keep high school graduates in Illinois. Aguilar hopes ideas like his can help point Western back in the right direction.
The next scheduled meeting for the new Board of Trustees will be June 13th and 14th at WIU's Quad Cities campus.