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October 3, 2018

U of I, EIU and SIU partner to recruit southern Illinois students
Event seeks to keep high-achieving students in state for college

EFFINGHAM, Ill. – About 170 high-achieving high school and community college students from across southern Illinois attended an event today hosted by six of the state’s public universities to keep talented students from the region in Illinois for college.

The second annual Salute to Illinois Scholars college fair and luncheon connected students with admissions and academic staff from the University of Illinois System’s universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield; Eastern Illinois University; and Southern Illinois University’s campuses in Carbondale and Edwardsville.

The event, held at Effingham’s Thelma Keller Convention Center, was created to stem a recent outmigration of Illinois students to colleges in other states. Studies show graduates tend to stay in the state where they studied, so the outmigration is a loss for Illinois and its economy.

“We want to connect the state’s best-and-brightest students with our best-in-class universities, providing opportunities that will transform their lives and supply the next-generation workforce that will move Illinois forward,” said Tim Killeen, president of the U of I System.

Killeen also joined EIU President David Glassman and Brad Colwell, vice president for academic affairs for the SIU System, in a discussion with current university students that provided a unique first-hand perspective on each college experience.

“Whether you want to be an engineer or a teacher, whether you seek a big or a small university in a rural or urban setting, and whether you want to be close to home or six hours from home – there is an Illinois public university for you,” Glassman said. “This idea that going out of state is cheaper is most often a myth.  Our universities have instituted aggressive new scholarship and enhanced financial aid programs to ensure the cost of an Illinois higher education is both affordable and accessible.”

Kevin Dorsey, interim president of the SIU System, added: “On behalf of the SIU System campuses in Carbondale and Edwardsville, we’re delighted to be able to showcase the outstanding and unique programs we offer. To be able to share in this event with our sister institutions, concentrating on our region of the state, demonstrates our strong commitment to these students and their families. This is just another example illustrating why we were created to serve Illinois’ Southern and Metro East regions and how cooperatively we can provide options for a great college experience.”

Killeen said the southern Illinois event is especially important because the region includes several counties with relatively low student enrollment at the U of I’s three universities.

The U of I System’s commitment to Illinois students is reflected in fall enrollment numbers released earlier this month that saw system-wide enrollment grow nearly 3 percent to almost 85,600 students, a record for the sixth straight year. That includes a 2.9 percent increase among in-state undergraduates, from 44,655 to 45,955 system-wide. Illinois students comprise more than 80 percent of undergraduates enrolled this fall.

About 170 students attended the event – high school seniors chosen based on academic achievements such as high ACT/SAT scores, along with community college honors students – and were accompanied by about 230 parents and guests. Students attended a college fair that provided information on each participating university and received certificates of achievement during a luncheon emceed by Barbara J. Wilson, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs for the U of I System.

Students were encouraged to apply to each of the six participating universities, where their application fees will be waived in honor of their high school achievements and attendance at the event.

A similar event is planned Oct. 9 in Rockford for students from northwestern Illinois, a first for the region that will co-sponsored by Northern Illinois University, Governors State University and Western Illinois University.


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with nearly 85,600 students, about 25,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.