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Higher education roundup

Thursday, Sep 10, 2020

* WIND’s Amy Jacobson tried pressing the governor today on the seriousness of COVID-19 on college campuses after Gov. Pritzker spoke about his trip to Bloomington yesterday and the quarantine at Bradley University

Jacobson: It should be emphasized that most of these people are asymptomatic, sometimes no symptoms at all and of out of 5,000 colleges across the country only five have been hospitalized.

Pritzker: So what’s your point? Do you think that unless you’ve been hospitalized it’s not worth worrying about?

Jacobson: No, no, no, I’m just saying, of all of the college students in Illinois, how many are in the hospital? Do you have that number?

Pritzker: I don’t have that number, but I mean, I think you’re discounting the idea that getting COVID-19 is serious business. Making sure that someone who has COVID-19 is not spreading it to other people is the reason that you want to quarantine people, so that’s that’s critically important. I know there are lots of people who think ‘Well gee somebody didn’t have to go to the hospital, or they didn’t die and therefore, well there’s nothing to it.’ That’s just not accurate. I realize that there are people, particularly followers of the president, who believe that that’s true that it’s okay to spread COVID-19 because hey if you’re not showing symptoms of it, then it’s fine, Well guess what? When people are not wearing masks, when people are just running around asymptomatic and they’re not getting tested but they are positive, they’re spreading it to other people. And the result is that it’s going into environments in which people who are vulnerable are going to be sick and are going to go to the hospital. And by the way, you should take a look, our hospitalizations in the state are rising. And this is problematic, so we’re watching very closely, even though we’ve got our positivity rates moving in the right direction in many regions, that hasn’t kept people from going to the hospital because, someone who is more likely to end up in the hospital getting it versus somebody who is less likely to end up in the hospital, you just don’t know. You don’t know who’s got a comorbidity. Everybody who knows they’ve got one, that’s fine, you know you’ve got a comorbidity and you should take extra care. Many people don’t know that they have a comorbidity yet, and then they get COVID-19 and then they end up with a problem.

* Meanwhile

Bradley University in central Illinois is requiring its entire student body to quarantine for two weeks because of clusters of COVID-19 on campus and is reverting to remote learning, officials announced Tuesday.

Officials of the private university said they have linked a spike of the coronavirus to off-campus gatherings. The Peoria university is requiring students to limit nonessential interactions, stay in their off-campus apartments, residence halls or Greek houses and take classes remotely beginning Tuesday.

In announcing the measure, the university said it has tallied about 50 COVID-19 cases so far, adding emergency measures are needed to respond to the outbreak without disrupting academic progress.

* Over to ISU

Students who gathered en masse and maskless to see YouTube personalities the NELK Boys could face consequences that include suspension, Illinois State University President Larry Dietz said Wednesday.

ISU authorities are working with the Normal Police Department to investigate Tuesday night’s visit by the popular group, stylized as NELK or NELK Boys on YouTube. Its members are known for producing videos of pranks that generate millions of pageviews, but officials said the YouTube stars’ visit to town led to large, flash mob-style gatherings that ultimately were broken up by police.

* Up to DeKalb

The number of reported COVID-19 cases on the Northern Illinois University campus nearly doubled over the four-day weekend, as the school reported 73 new cases, bringing the total to 150.

The school also reported 18 new recoveries, bringing the total to 24. The data represents cases of the viral respiratory disease identified on campus since Friday.

All 73 new cases were in students. The school hasn’t reported a case in an employee since Sept. 1, and just three cases have been reported in employees.

According to the school, 31.4% of its quarantine and isolation areas are in use, down from 54% Friday.

* Tribune

In an early glimpse of the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on college enrollment, some Illinois universities are seeing declines in international students and freshman class sizes but also a higher number of graduate students, who are taking advantage of online programs.

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the state’s largest college, undergraduate enrollment fell by about 350 students from record levels last year, the school announced Wednesday. The freshman class size also dropped by about 1.8% to 7,530 students, the school said, and an additional 277 students deferred admission compared with about 60 in a typical year. […]

About 17,800 graduate students enrolled at UIUC, up by 9% from a high last year. Some 42% of graduate students are taking fully online programs, with big increases seen in the Gies College of Business and Grainger College of Engineering. Still, about 2,000 graduate students chose to delay admission.

Citing the pandemic, UIUC said about 576 international undergraduate students discontinued their studies for the fall 2020 semester. Most new international students are taking classes online, with freshmen from China rising by 3.9%.

* WIU press release

For the first time in 10 years, new student enrollment at Western Illinois University has increased.

The number of new freshmen enrolling at Western this fall stands at 1,064, 18.9 percent over Fall 2019, while new transfer students total 721 (9.2 percent over Fall 2019) and new graduate students stand at 569 (10.3 percent over Fall 2019), for a total new student increase of 13.7 percent. In addition, the grade point average (GPA) of the incoming freshman class has increased to 3.49 (compared to 3.40 in Fall 2019).

Total enrollment as of the 10th day is 7,490, according to 10th-day data released by WIU’s Institutional Research and Planning.

Besides the increase in new students, WIU’s Fall 2020 enrollment has increased 7.1 percent over Spring 2020. According to Gary Swegan, interim associate vice president for enrollment management, Western has not seen a spring-to-fall increase since 2016.


Eastern Illinois University announced on Tuesday that its fall 2020 enrollment has increased by approximately 10.5% despite the challenges posted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figures from Eastern’s 10th-day enrollment report show that total enrollment increased from 7,806 students in fall 2019 to 8,626 this fall. The university reported that this marks the third consecutive year of its growth in institutional enrollment. That growth reportedly includes graduate student enrollment increasing by 5 percent from 1,577 to 1,657 and undergraduate enrollment increasing 11.8 percent from 6,229 to 6,969.


Reversing a decade-long trend, student enrollment is up at NIU despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our sister station WLBK reports that NIU student enrollment this fall is up 160 students from last year to a student body of 16,769. Enrollment had been falling since 2009 when NIU had more than 24,000.

The university says this year’s growth was driven by a freshman class that is eight percent larger than last year and improving retention of first-year students by six percentage points.


Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s School of Nursing (SON) record enrollment of 1,877 students highlights SIUE’s fall 2020 enrollment picture. The University’s overall graduate and professional enrollment hits 2,918 students, its highest mark in 43 years.

With its 5 percent increase from fall 2019, the SON saw record enrollment for the second consecutive year. SIUE’s graduate and professional enrollment includes 849 doctoral students, from all levels, the most in the history of the institution.

Twenty-nine percent of the SIUE student body reports an ethnicity or race other than white, making this fall’s student body the most ethnically diverse for the University. Enrollment includes record numbers of Latinx students (637) and students who identify as Asian, Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (370). […]

SIUE total enrollment is 1.5 percent behind fall 2019 (13,061). The University welcomed 1,554 new freshmen or 113 (6.7 percent) fewer than last fall.

* And good news from SIUC

The number of first-time college students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale increased by 31.2% this fall. The total reflects a 32.9% increase in new first-time students enrolling from the Southern Illinois region.

The university also saw continued growth in the freshman to sophomore retention rate, reflecting the percentage of last year’s first-time freshmen who returned this fall. This year’s rate is 80.6%, the highest in 20 years and up from 72% in 2017 and 75% last year. […]

Total enrollment stands at 11,366, a decline of 2.8% from fall 2019. The university has seen declines between 8% and 12% in each of the last four years.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Blue Beard - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 2:33 pm:

    I wonder if Amy Jacobsen has ever lunched with Michele Bachmann.

  2. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 2:34 pm:

    I am fascinated by all the increased enrollment at IL directional schools. Is that just people wanting to stay close to home or live with parents when starting college during a pandemic?

  3. - Captain Obvious - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 2:51 pm:

    Geez Jay Bob. Defensive much? She asked a simple question that you should have been able to answer but couldn’t, or didn’t want to. It’s almost like you don’t want to provide information that might weaken your argument.

  4. - Bruce( no not him) - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 2:52 pm:

    I am curious if the increased enrollment is due to kids staying home and commuting.

  5. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 2:53 pm:

    ===She asked a simple question===

    Yeah, not loaded or anything. /s

  6. - H-W - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 2:54 pm:


    I would not get optimistic yet. If while the numbers at WIU and EIU are not declining, they are a far cry from where we have been. For example, 15 years ago, WIU and EIU were routinely well over 10,000 students. The WIU numbers announced today are:

    Total undergraduate enrollment is 5,854
    Total graduate enrollment is 1,636
    Total enrollment is 7,490

    Two things WIU did that may mark only temporary growth were to (a) significantly change the role of ACT/SAT tests in admissions, and (b) allow all students, after receiving their grade reports, to convert any grades of C or D to “P” (no negative effect on GPA) this past Spring. The latter clearly plays a significant role with regard to retention of students who otherwise might have not been retained into this Fall.

    In short, it looks like we have flattened the curve in terms of declining enrollment, but we have a long way to go before we can conclude we are actually growing enrollment and returning to anything resembling normal.

  7. - illdoc - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 2:59 pm:

    While you can certainly look at hospital admissions for college age students, the more important thing to remember is that if you have a large number of positive cases (symptomatic or not) the virus can rapidly move through the university workforce and then into the surrounding community. U of I moved quickly to try and keep the lid on the situation before it exploded out of control

  8. - UISer - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 3:09 pm:

    I know we are just a small school, but so far so good at UIS. We have a rolling average of .28% on our positivity rate, requiring everyone who comes on campus throughout the week to do the Shield testing.

  9. - Pundent - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 3:14 pm:

    I’m glad that Jacboson is attending these pressers again. It’s far better for her to be able to ask these ridiculous questions and then have to have it explained for the umpteenth time why a rise in cases is not a good thing. Pritzker’s response was spot on and shows how silly the counter narrative to all of this is. Not that we can ask Jacobson a question, but I wonder how she and Profft feel about learning that the President has acknowledged repeatedly lying to the American people about the seriousness of this virus. Seems like that would be a bit more concerning than the way that Pritzker has been handling things.

  10. - Keyrock - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 3:16 pm:

    From the Northwestern student paper:

  11. - TC - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 4:06 pm:

    Glad Amy asks the questions. Sure, it’s a loaded question, but that label could pertain to any question that’s not the normal softball that gets lobbed to JB.

  12. - Chicagonk - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 4:20 pm:

    Enrollment numbers look great. I’m curious what is driving this.

  13. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 4:21 pm:

    The online learning at our Universities is VERY disappointing. My daughter is a freshmen at one of the directional schools and has had challenges getting feedback and or responses to questions. Some of the professors simply don’t respond and the kids are entirely on their own. The school has no plan for support for students and has no requirement for the professors to be responsive.

  14. - Excitable Boy - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 4:36 pm:

    - but I wonder how she and Profft feel about learning that the President has acknowledged repeatedly lying -

    Are you under the impression those two have even the tiniest shred of integrity? They’d slander their own grandmother if they could make a buck on it.

  15. - RIJ - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 4:49 pm:

    It also helps that Illinois no longer has a governor who sought to bring intense damage to Illinois public universities. I’m sure a number of the matriculants would have gone out-of-state under Rauner.

  16. - Bothanspy - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 4:58 pm:

    ===Glad Amy asks the questions. Sure, it’s a loaded question, but that label could pertain to any question that’s not the normal softball that gets lobbed to JB.===

    With all due respect, a softball question still allows a response with important information. The Jacobson question requires that you check your brain at the door. Sure, very few students are in the hospital and even fewer are symptomatic. That’s not really the point is it? Regardless of whether they are asymptomatic or not, they still can spread the disease to those more at risk of more adverse reactions.
    Why this is under debate or just not understood by Republicans is just simply beyond me.

  17. - filmmaker prof - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 5:30 pm:

    Notice how Amy Jacobsen never asks a question? She just gives a lecture. Any high school freshman with internet access could find the answer to her “question.” She’s not going to do the actual work. She just wants to say stuff. That’s why she’s not a journalist.

  18. - swILL - Thursday, Sep 10, 20 @ 6:07 pm:

    Nice that the number of EIU full time undergrads is back over 4000 (4082) again.

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