Building a Better University - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Building a Better University

Building a Better University

Getting a college education these days can cost a bundle.  But it can also cost universities millions of dollars a year to keep up with students needs.  One Heartland college has found a way to build a better university, without relying solely upon state funds to do it.

"SIU's already recognized as  research institute.  Frankly this part can only help enhance that reputation.  And enhance the universities ability to educate students here in the research park.  But also to accommodate new businesses," says Congressman Jerry Costello.

Congressman Costello presented school leaders with a $1,000,000.00 check on Wednesday to help them in their efforts.

"This park has the potential of 1,200 jobs and 75 businesses.  And it's going to take us a while to get there.  But if we continue to chip away at it, and work together, we'll see the full potential someday," Congressman Costello said.

The development of the Southern Illinois Research Park is only part of what's happening on the SIU campus.  Currently there's construction projects underway totaling $200,000,000.00 dollars.

"It's good because it will actually house future programs and meet present needs on the campus.  And that makes it absolutely critical to us," says SIU's Chancellor Walter Wendler.

One of the biggest projects on campus will eventually provide students with an academic and training center.  The $4.5 million dollar Troutt-Wittman Center is being privately funded by a donation from former SIU alum Thomas "Pete" Wittman.

School leaders are also tapping into student fees, with their approval.  And using some creative internal financing to get the job done.

"We're using all the funding streams that are available.  And we're being careful.  We're taking it one step at a time.  A lot of these projects have started long before I arrived.  I'm just here on campus doing my job on a daily basis trying to make the campus better," Chancellor Wendler said.

A long term project on the SIU campus is upgrading their classrooms yearly, to the tune of $2,000,000.00 dollars annually.  Those funds are all coming from campus fees.

"I won't be here next year, but someone else will.  They'll get to use it and use all the stuff that I couldn't.  But at least they'll have that opportunity," says SIU Senior Andy Kirsak.

"I think it's going to bring more life to everything.  It's going to be a more helpful place for everyone to get what they need," says SIU Freshman Brittany Arnolde.

It's all part of school leaders plans to be a top research university by SIU's 150th birthday, in 2019.

" We're making sure that we provide the students the best that we can in terms of learning opportunities," Chancellor Wendler said.

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