Manar proposes Springfield campus for SIU

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ALTGELD HALL is the oldest building at the SIU Carbondale campus.

Springfield, IL – Southern Illinois University last year floated the idea of building a satellite law school in either Springfield or Edwardsville. A $50 million bill just filed in the Legislature could bring that project to Springfield.

Senator Andy Manar’s bill would allocate $50 million in capital development funds for a public affairs center and campus near the Capital in Springfield, intended to boost both the struggling university and downtown Springfield.

The site is on vacant YWCA property on the north side of the Governor’s Mansion, about a mile south of the SIU School of Medicine. The funding could become part of a capital bill now being developed that could spur construction work throughout the state.

‘ENORMOUS POTENTIAL’

“There is enormous potential in the idea of SIU placing a public policy center steps from the Capitol,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said. “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 officials have discussed a marketing study to determine whether to place the satellite law school in Springfield or Edwardsville. The main law school, with about 300 students, would remain in Carbondale.

SIU officials welcomed Manar’s bill.

“The proposal would allow the university to upgrade existing programs and establish new ones to benefit students and the Springfield community,” said John Charles, SIU’s director of government and public affairs.

SIU has reduced its enrollment goals for the Carbondale campus where, for the first time, the fall 2018 enrollment of 12,817 was less than the SIU Edwardsville enrollment of 13,281.

Under Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, the university had hoped to grow enrollment to 18,300 students by 2025. But following his untimely death in October, the university pared its goal down to 15,000  students within five years.

Dr. Meera Komarraju, SIUC’s interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said, “We are taking a realistic view of where we are and how we are going to move forward.”

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