CHAMPAIGN, Illinois — University of Illinois President Tim Killeen said he is "testing the waters" for setting a goal that the university's three campuses should increase enrollment to 100,000 students.
"What might it take? We're definitely going to ask the questions, what would it take, what might the impact be and what are the financial implications," Killeen told The (Champaign) News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1hMySBU ).
When the new academic year starts next week, total enrollment at the campuses in Chicago, Springfield and Champaign-Urbana will be about 79,000, with 43,500 students at the flagship campus.
"There's certainly a demand for the kind of education that the University of Illinois offers, and we want to look to the next few years — I'd say four or five years — and develop a strategy that makes sense," Killeen said.
The idea would be discussed in upcoming town hall meeting and in talks with chancellors, Killeen said.
He has raised the idea twice before. The first time was at a Board of Trustees retreat in Chicago last month, when he said that "perhaps we need 20,000 more Illinois resident students." The second was during a news conference after Urbana-Champaign campus Chancellor Phyllis Wise resigned, where he said, "We're thinking of increasing enrollment significantly."
Joyce Tolliver, an associate professor of Spanish and member of the flagship campus' faculty senate, attended the retreat and said she has concerns.
"A key question would be, are you going to try to increase the number of applications before you increase the number of acceptances?" she said. "Because if you don't do that then mathematically you're decreasing selectivity."
Tolliver also said the school will have to think about hiring more faculty and adding classroom space.
Killeen said the plans aren't concrete and all ideas will focus on student success. "We're not going to compromise on the integrity and quality of the education," he said.
Killeen has previously cited two problems with UI enrollment: a diminishing number of undergraduates from Illinois who attend the Champaign-Urbana campus and African-American enrollment. The Champaign-Urbana campus' African-American enrollment was 4.9 percent for fall semester 2014.
Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com