August 12, 2011
By John David
MOLINE — As Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signs legislation to reform Illinois funding for colleges and universities, it's clear this is an investment in the future.
"Good performance, good outcomes -- that's what taxpayers want," he said after a bill signing ceremony at Western Illinois University in Moline on Friday. "I think that's what all the students want. It's what we need to have if we're going to be a strong state economically."
As key proponent Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon puts it, performance funding basically pays campuses to do their jobs. But it's mission will be more direct. Rather than just enrollment, the measure will focus on increasing the graduation rate.
"We hope that as a result of this legislation, many more students will complete classes and degrees," said George Reid, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
Gov. Quinn's visit comes at a time when WIU is preparing to open its riverfront campus. Now, a campus that's already aiming for the future will get another push for quality.
WIU's future college of business and technology is coming together on Moline's River Drive. It will be part of the region's first four-year public university. And when classes begin in January 2012, it will focus on success.
"We're going to go the people who are affected and sit down with them in a group," said State Sen. Mike Jacobs, (D) East Moline. "We'll hammer out something on performance-based results."
Illinois wants 60% of its workforce to have a college degree or certificate by 2025. Right now, that figure stands at 41%. Supporters like Gov. Quinn say that performance funding will raise the bar for achievement.
"We have to have sharp minds, well-trained workers, to really handle the rigors of the global economy we're in," he said.
A commission from public and private representatiion, academics and business will determine the metrics. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2012.