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Springfield “mini campus” discussed for UIS, SIU

Friday, Jul 19, 2019

* The Southern

A broad coalition is forming to push for state funding for a joint campus in downtown Springfield, to be shared by the University of Illinois Springfield and Southern Illinois University.

The effort originated with state Sen. Andy Manar, who introduced legislation in January requesting $50 million for an SIU facility in the state capital. […]

“We put several opportunities on the table [at a July 9 meeting convened by Manar] — what would go in this building and on this campus, including initiatives related to medicine and law, social service, management of governmental intern positions, public health and policy, and so on,” said SIU Interim President J. Kevin Dorsey. “Collaboration between SIU, the School of Medicine and UIS was seen as critical.”

The Springfield university is already seeking to bolster its downtown presence via a new “Innovation Hub,” funded within the University of Illinois’s $500 million Discovery Partners Institute initiative. […]

“Our initial conversations have been about the ‘Y’ block, but as the conversations unfolded and as resources have become available through the recent capital bill … it’s beginning to evolve into the development of a mini-campus of several blocks in the downtown area,” possibly including student housing, Van Meter said. “No prospect has so ignited as the possibility of establishing an SIU presence and the law school’s presence in the community.”

Check out the whole story if you can.

* If I was king, I’d put that mini campus just south of the Statehouse in the area bordered by Edwards on the north, Lawrence on the south, College on the west and 2nd St. on the east. Not every building would have to go. You’d definitely want to keep some of them. But there’s a lot of empty space and business and office locations which have been difficult to develop over the years…

And since the SIU law school wants to use its potential Springfield campus to offer “classes, support to law students interning in the capitol, and continuing education for legal professionals,” that would be a great spot.

The area just north of downtown near the medical district has some possibilities as well.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

48 Comments
  1. - El Conquistador - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:59 pm:

    All in. Good progressive idea for higher ed. Still concerned with funding and recruitment at SIUC but great for SIU and Springfield. More please.


  2. - Unpopular - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:59 pm:

    How much deferred maintenance do we have at SIUC and the other regionals? Instead we build a new toy for Springfield?


  3. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:05 pm:

    I believe Illinois is the only state capitol without a law school.

    I have no problem with “flex space” that is under the control of the board of higher ed and leased out short term to public universities. Is WIU wants to ad “ag policy” to its curriculum and have students spend a semester interning at the Dept of Ag or for the agriculture committees, why not?

    Manar is always thinking outside the box.


  4. - Honeybear - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:06 pm:

    It would be great to have SIU’s lawschool have a campus in Springfield.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    I’m in favor of this, first, and last, as a constant reminder to the phonies who thought taking steps to reform Illinois was more important than Illinois’ higher education system… and have universities in their regions.

    I’m digging Rich’s wish location.

    Would there be enough parking is my only question.


  6. - Dan Johnson - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    I love it.

    I’d convert the Howlett building and the armory to academic uses. Make the gorgeous state library part of the campus.

    And dorms! Got to get dorms. We need lots of people downtown.

    Also I would have spent a semester in Springfield when I was in college had there been a program like it.

    Congrats to Senator Manar for starting this off.


  7. - City Zen - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:26 pm:

    ==shared by the University of Illinois Springfield and Southern Illinois University==

    Palindrome State


  8. - FFS - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    Indiana has IUPUI, I guess Illinois could have SIUIS.

    The main law school schould remain in Carbondale, IMHO, as it serves as a good regional base for Southern Illinois, but a satellite campus wouldn’t be bad.

    I’d also suggest utilizing the ocean of flat parking lots North of the Capitol.


  9. - Jibba - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    CZ hits a stand-up double.

    Make the business case for a law school before building it. Otherwise the med stuff can go near the current SIU, and any additional downtown programs can be built in flexi space that can grow as needed or if ever wanted/funded. I have no patience with the capital city argument. Springpatch is a small capital lacking the flagship university campus, so it differs from many.


  10. - A Jack - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    I am not sure if Vinegar Hill mall doesn’t have some historical significance. It certainly has seen its share of businesses come and go over the years. It was originally a brewery. The copper tanks are still there. George Bauer turned it into a dance club for a while. Then a few restaurants and bars came and went. Now a pawn shop has pretty much taken over. But the building could be preserved and turned into classrooms. There is a bit of parking across the street where Bauer’s restaurant used to be.


  11. - Leatherneck - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:44 pm:

    - A Jack - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    I am not sure if Vinegar Hill mall doesn’t have some historical significance. It certainly has seen its share of businesses come and go over the years. It was originally a brewery. The copper tanks are still there. George Bauer turned it into a dance club for a while. Then a few restaurants and bars came and went. Now a pawn shop has pretty much taken over. But the building could be preserved and turned into classrooms.
    —————–

    I’m sure the pawn shop will move to somewhere on MacArthur if Rich’s idea becomes reality.

    The Handy Pantry building, which appears to have once been an old gas station building (I actually thought it once housed a Stuckey’s!), can be transformed from a corner liquor store to the campus bookstore. But Hometown Pantry is only 6 blocks down Spring at South Grand anyway.

    https://tax.co.sangamon.il.us/SangamonCountyWeb/GetImageServlet?pn=14330287004&ol=CAPITAL&ft=JPG&coid=/CAPPHOTOS/B000002UFA/000010558


  12. - OneMan - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:46 pm:

    A law school? Isn’t legal employment falling?

    https://www.law.com/2019/05/08/law-grads-hiring-report-job-stats-for-the-class-of-2018/?slreturn=20190619144531


  13. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:47 pm:

    ===Would there be enough parking===

    That’s why you need student housing. Also, that neighborhood to the west has decent rentals.


  14. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:50 pm:

    ===Isn’t legal employment falling?===

    People who would be interested in going to the Springfield campus near the Statehouse would not be your typical law student.


  15. - A State Employee Guy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:50 pm:

    The state doesn’t need another law school. But if you had to pick a spot in town, I agree with Rich. Prime location.


  16. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:50 pm:

    ===That’s why you need student housing.===

    That works, reducing the type of resident, by making it student housing solves that.

    Would be a big thing.


  17. - Bruce( no not him) - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    SIU already has problems with dividing up their funding between 2 campuses. Add a third? What could go wrong?


  18. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:52 pm:

    ===between 2 campuses. Add a third===

    They have three. Medical school in Spfld.


  19. - Back to the Mountains - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:54 pm:

    Indiana is a great example of what a law school in a capitol city can do. IU-McKinney, the law school in Indianapolis, has a night program where state employees, lobsters, and more non-traditional students go to get a law degree after working a full day. They’ve got awesome employment numbers, and they have a leg up on internships during school and clerkships after school because of proximity. At least facially, there’s no reason to expect a different result in Illinois.


  20. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:56 pm:

    Spring and Edwards - rumors for decades the gas station had a leaking gas tank with gas spread so far it wasn’t all “remediated” - anyone have anything to contribute.


  21. - Nick Name - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:58 pm:

    ===as a constant reminder to the phonies who thought taking steps to reform Illinois was more important than Illinois’ higher education system===

    Beefing up higher ed *was* one of the top needed reforms, but those phonies were too ideological to know or care.


  22. - Nick Name - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:00 pm:

    ===Would there be enough parking is my only question.===

    A challenge, but not insurmountable. As Rich said there are rentals to the west, and probably to the south too. As he also said, student dorms would help. There also are parking garages nearby, and parking could be incorporated into the design.


  23. - Bruce( no not him) - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:00 pm:

    “They have three. Medical school in Spfld.”
    Oops, forgot that one. Never mind. 3 to 4, no problem.


  24. - Jibba - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:06 pm:

    ===People who would be interested in going to the Springfield campus near the Statehouse would not be your typical law student.===

    I’m not opposed to a law school, but I want us to do due diligence on the size of the market before jumping in. In addition to a regional population of perhaps 150K, who are these other folks that compose a better market and how many of them are there? And how many do we need to support such a venture?

    BTW, as a graduate of Hay-Edwards, I approve of Rich’s location if it gets built. Would love to see neighborhood revitalization.


  25. - Responsa - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:10 pm:

    If SIU had a law school in Springfield would anybody still go to the one in Carbondale? Or maybe that’s the point.


  26. - Nick Name - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:14 pm:

    This appears to be Manar’s bill: https://tinyurl.com/y3nsnuwe

    Where are Springfield’s other two senators, McClure and Brady (both Republicans, and both of their respective districts touch Springfield) on this? Have they even offered to co-sponsor?


  27. - park-ing - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:23 pm:

    The vast sea of mostly empty parking lots to the north of the Capitol are embarrassing and an opportunity. Some sort of redevelopment and public open space would be great there. Perhaps even with a narrow corridor connecting to Lincoln’s tomb & the fairgrounds, kind of like an Illinois Mall.


  28. - Glengarry - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:32 pm:

    Wish I had access to something like that when I was going through grad school while raising two youngins.


  29. - Not buying it - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:43 pm:

    It’s pretty obvious what is happening here. SIUC is looking for any source of additional revenue, given their enrollment declines and the potential reallocation with SIUE (I say potential due to the recent fiasco with the consultant hired to not produce a reallocation formula). Rather than fix the problems in Carbondale, they are opting to expand into Springfield as a way of increasing enrollments and reducing the amount of money they might have to give up to SIUE. I think it’s a safe bet that they will try to move anything even remotely related to medicine or law to Springfield–e.g., nursing, political science, law enforcement, etc. What’s the problem with that, you ask? SIUE already has those programs and is just a little over an hour away. If this happens, I hope IBHE reins them in.


  30. - Skeptic - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    “Add a third?” I lost count how many UWisc campuses (campii?) there are.


  31. - 618er - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:53 pm:

    ===between 2 campuses. Add a third

    They have three. Medical school in Spfld.===

    And in during mydays at SIU-C it was a top tier Fammily practice medical school…


  32. - ArchPundit - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:54 pm:

    Continuing legal education would be a part of this and is a fairly good revenue generator for law schools right now. It wouldn’t need to be a full law school as much as an additional location for classes.


  33. - phenom_Anon - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    A small, focused law school would be a grad addition. There is demand for that among the legislative staffs, state associations, and lobbying firms in Springfield. If it was focused on working adults taking night/weekend classes.


  34. - LakeCountyRepublican - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:59 pm:

    I should hope that the students going to law school can do better than an unpaid internship working for a state legislator, caucus or agency. They should model a night school system like the one offered at Georgetown to allow these individuals access to full time opportunities.


  35. - RNUG - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    == If I was king, … ==

    I’m sitting here imagining the Warehouse / Baur’s Restaurant turned into a student cafeteria and Baur’s Opera House as a rec room … can’t quite wrap my head around it.


  36. - RNUG - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:06 pm:

    Housing … there are a couple of apartment buildings tucked in a block or two south of Lawrence on College.


  37. - Captain Obvious - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    Springfield already has a statewide organization that provides CLE to legal professionals. It is a field that is already oversaturated with providers. Good to know that higher education’s fiscal problems have been solved and now there is money to burn for expansion.


  38. - Captain Obvious - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:15 pm:

    Forgot to add. We already have so many lawyers in this state that a large number do not even practice law. Expanded law school capacity is a huge waste of resources.


  39. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:21 pm:

    Captain, see phenom_Anon’s comment above.


  40. - Kentucky Bluegrass x Featherbed Bent x Northern California Sinsemilla - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:21 pm:

    Benedictine just abandoned their campus in Lincoln Park north of Downtown. I’d say use that for the school and try to put some student housing downtown to maybe improve the nightlife scene.


  41. - Back to the Mountains - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:28 pm:

    ==We already have so many lawyers in this state that a large number do not even practice law. Expanded law school capacity is a huge waste of resources.==

    Why assume that the only thing to do with a law degree is practice law? Many law schools emphasize alternatives to private practice and encourage students to consider jobs where having a law degree is an advantage, but the position doesn’t involve being a practicing attorney.


  42. - Jibba - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:31 pm:

    ==I think it’s a safe bet that they will try to move anything===

    If all of this is just the beginning of an unspoken plan to move the entire law school and other valuable assets out of SIUC into Springfield, I might support that. SIUC is not looking so good given its rural location and proximity to lower cost competitors out of state. However, cannibalization of other programs needs to be considered before jumping (UI law, perhaps other schools if other programs might move). At least this is a plan. as opposed to other directionals that seem to lack any other than increased state support.


  43. - Annonin' - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:33 pm:

    Armory land makes most sense…state owns. But Baurs-Opera House block is listed for $1 million


  44. - ArchPundit - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:43 pm:

    ===It is a field that is already oversaturated with providers.

    This is not true. It’s been a growing area for many law schools who provide more options and broader topics than the traditional state providers. In this particular case there is an area for those in politics and law to design specific courses and downstate isn’t served that well for in person course in general.

    A second area that is growing is legal education for non-lawyers which Springfield is a great location where there are currently limited options.


  45. - MyTwoCents - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:44 pm:

    I like this idea and I think it has a lot of potential. Adding the law school would certainly assist State employees who wish to get a law degree but remain working. Additionally, it raises the possibility of creating opportunities to draw students to Springfield by creating a MD/JD program or other MD joint degree programs through collaboration between UIS and SIU Med, like an MD/MPH program.

    It would be helpful for UIS’ internship programs to be based closer to the offices where a lot the students are working and could incentivize more students to live downtown, particularly if you move some classes downtown.

    I also like the idea of space that could be used by other universities for programs dealing with State government.

    Determining the final location will be a challenge, although Rich has a good idea. Personally I’m not sure where the ideal location would be. It would have to be somewhere with room to expand if necessary. But if the collaboration, the financing and the location all come together it has the potential to be a huge benefit to downtown Springfield.


  46. - RIJ - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 4:19 pm:

    Our current institutions of higher ed need proper funding before we add more campuses.


  47. - Chad - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 4:34 pm:

    Now that John Marshall is part of U of I, this would mean a fourth public university law school — essentially doubling the public subsidy for legal education in the state in just a couple of years. We need public cash to go toward supporting STEM degrees and employment, not more attorneys in a contracting market. My big law firm won’t hire anyone from what will likely be a second-rate mini-school for locals who are not going to be able to use their degrees very easily in the tiny central illinois legal market. You would have me if you relocated the Carbondale law school here.


  48. - SAP - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 4:48 pm:

    If you are focusing on law or government, the parcel you suggested is a great one. My first thought, though, was the recently abandoned Illinois Benedictine site, especially if you are expanding the medical program.


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