Manar proposes $50M for new SIU capital campus
State senator foresees ‘a significant and lasting impact on downtown Springfield and the capital city at large’
By Ted Cox
A leading state senator is proposing to help Southern Illinois University expand in the state capital.
State Sen. Andy Manar announced Wednesday he’s sponsoring a bill that would set aside $50 million for an SIU expansion in Springfield as part of the much-anticipated next capital bill.
According to Manar, SIU officials have been considering for almost a year the concept of putting a satellite law school in either Springfield or Edwardsville. SIU’s School of Medicine is already located in Springfield, and any new SIU campus there would have to be within a mile of the current building at 801 N. Rutledge St.
Manar suggested the long-vacant block formerly occupied by the YWCA just north of the Governor’s Mansion as “a perfect location for an SIU campus.”
The state’s flagship University of illinois already has a presence in Springfield at what used to be Sangamon State University before it was renamed and adopted into the university system in 1995.
“There is enormous potential in the idea of SIU placing a public policy center steps from the Capitol,” said Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill just south of Springfield, in a statement on his Senate Bill 179. “Coupled with a law school or something associated with the medical school, I think SIU could have a significant and lasting impact on downtown Springfield and the capital city at large.”
SIU has been struggling for years with declining enrollment, especially at its original Carbondale campus. The School of Medicine in Springfield, however, provides critical health care to an underserved population in central and southern Illinois. And public universities are known to be job creators and economic engines across the region.
Manar feels the timing is right to connect an SIU expansion to a capital bill on state infrastructure, saying, “There should be something substantial for Springfield in the capital bill when it happens.”
The University of Illinois announced this week that it plans to freeze tuition rates for in-state students for a fifth straight year, setting it at $12,036 in Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 in Chicago, and $9,405 in Springfield, according to the Associated Press, although room and board and other university fees will rise slightly. The Board of Trustees affirmed the proposal Thursday.