Benedictine University Closing Doors on Undergrads

Noah Yantis –

Benedictine University in Springfield, Illinois, will be shutting its doors to most undergraduate students starting May 31, 2015, due to multiple years of consistent deficit spending.

The school was formed when the Springfield College of Illinois formed a partnership with Benedictine University based in Lisle, Illinois in 2003. Its enrollment for 2014-2015 is about half of Illinois College’s total enrollment—a mere 527–with over half of those being part-time.

The school will be shifting focus from “traditional undergraduates” to “non-traditional students.” A “traditional undergraduate” is a student in between the ages of 18 and 22 and generally straight out of high school. They pursue bachelors of arts or bachelors of science degrees in their field. A “non-traditional undergraduate” is a student older than 22, generally returning to school for a degree, or one who is working full-time and going to school part-time.

The Board of Trustees at Benedictine in Springfield came to this decision after considering the amount of money that is being funneled to undergraduate students, and the fact that the “non-traditional” student cohort is the largest growing sector of students in the Midwest.

Fortunately, students at Benedictine have many options in front of them. There are two other Benedictine campuses: one in Lisle, Illinois (the main campus), and one in Mesa, Arizona. The University of Illinois-Springfield will also be offering transfer students from Benedictine scholarships that will allow them an ease of access to attend another institution in Springfield.

Illinois College has also stepped in to offer Benedictine students a chance to attend an institution of higher education in the Springfield area. With the school consistently below enrollment goals, members of President Farley’s cabinet have approved a scholarship for Benedictine students. The scholarship includes $16,650 a year to cover the difference between IC’s total cost and Benedictine’s cost, all 100-level courses with a “C” or better transfer, and an on the spot admission decision.

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Many students here at IC believe that any student from Benedictine who wants to attend here can do so and that this offer will have negative impacts on the school, but that is apparently not the case.

According to IC’s Vice President of Marketing, Stephanie Chipman, the school has been approached by less than 10 prospective students, and all of them are near the 3.75 GPA mark for their collegiate career. She says that the “higher education landscape is changing rapidly and Benedictine is reacting to the media pressure of higher education.”

Some Illinois College students are asking questions and wondering what will happen here on campus. Director of Admissions Evan Wilson commented, “Accepting Benedictine students won’t drastically reshape our enrollment because the number appears to be around 10 students.”

Students at Illinois College should not be alarmed or betrayed at the fact Benedictine students are getting almost $17,000 because it covers the gap between IC and Benedictine. These students who do decide to attend will be paying Benedictine’s full price, so in all reality, they are paying more than what they had at Benedictine.

Illinois College admissions counselors will be attending a transfer fair at Benedictine to talk with prospective transfers.

The Student Senate has had students approach them over the matter and there has been quality debate about the current situation and how current IC students would be affected.

Evan Wilson ended by saying, “It is heartening to see IC in as good shape as it is. Students should be very confident in security and have confidence in [IC’s] programs. We can take on more students and have a duty to take on such students who have been displaced [from Benedictine].”

 

Noah Yantis, from Arthur, Illinois, is a freshman majoring in History and Political Science with a minor in Communication and Rhetorical Studies. Noah participates on the golf team, is a Class of 2018 Student Senator and Chairman of the Public Relations Committee, and is a features and sports writer for The Rambler.

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