Click here to see this online

Contact: Julian Parrott
Office: (217) 333-3079 or (217) 244-6995
Cell: (217) 418-0619

October 9, 2018

U of I, NIU, WIU and Governors State partner on recruiting effort
First-time event seeks to keep northwestern Illinois students in state for college

ROCKFORD, Ill. – About 175 high-achieving high school and community college students from across northwestern 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 region’s first-ever 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; Northern Illinois University; Western Illinois University; and Governors State University.

The event, held at Giovanni’s Convention Center in Rockford, 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 NIU President Lisa C. Freeman, WIU President Jack Thomas and Governors State President Elaine P. Maimon in a discussion with current students of their universities that provided a unique first-hand perspective on each college experience.

“We have excellent public institutions in Illinois and coming together to showcase the myriad opportunities students have in their home state will help reverse the trend of outmigration,” Freeman said. “For example, NIU provides students with an enriched educational experience specific to their goals and interests, and provides a hands-on learning environment with options to do research as freshman, intern on campus with cutting-edge employers and meaningfully connect with alumni throughout out state.”

Thomas said: “We are pleased to partner with other Illinois’ institutions to raise awareness about the outstanding educational opportunities available to students here in their home state. We enjoyed meeting those prospective students and showcasing the leading-edge academic programs available at Western Illinois University.”

Maimon added: “Illinois’s public universities offer a wonderful array of choices for high-achieving students: urban, suburban, and rural locations; campus size to fit every preference; university environments for every personality.”

Killeen said the northwestern 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 175 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 250 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.

Last week, the second annual Salute to Illinois Scholars was held for southern Illinois students, co-sponsored by the Southern Illinois University System and Eastern Illinois University.

The U of I System spearheaded both events, taking the lead for the second year in a row to bring public universities together in a multi-institutional recruitment effort to stem outmigration of Illinois students to colleges in other states.


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with nearly 86,000 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.