State to consider ISU’s College of Engineering proposal | Local Education







Illinois State University President Larry Dietz presents information about a proposed College of Engineering during a virtual meeting of the board of trustees on Feb. 19, 2021. 


Lenore Sobota



NORMAL — The Illinois Board of Higher Education will consider Illinois State University’s proposed College of Engineering at its meeting on Tuesday. 

The action item requests approval for the college and two departments: electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Board documents say the college would house three majors in electrical, mechanical and general engineering. 

The new college has been in development for over a year, with ISU’s board approving the administration to officially move toward getting state approval last May. 

“We’re very excited that this is on to the IBHE for consideration and we will await the board’s decision,” ISU spokesman Eric Jome said. 

He said the application involved a lot of work from many people around campus, but the university would wait for the vote before commenting much further.


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IBHE’s agenda for Tuesday includes a presentation by ISU President Terri Goss Kinzy. 

IBHE board documents say that the proposal includes a focus on equity, including recruitment and opportunities for groups underrepresented in engineering, including people of color and women. That focus includes both students and faculty and staff. 


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The documents also mention that the university has worked with industry partners, including Rivian Automotive Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland, in developing plans for the college. 

Capital projects for the new college have been estimated at around $44 million. Initial enrollment is expected to be around 130 students, growing to 520 students by the fourth year. 

The board documents note several similar colleges or departments at other area colleges and universities, including the Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology at Bradley University in Peoria. Of Illinois’ downstate public universities, only ISU, Eastern Illinois University and University of Illinois Springfield do not have separate engineering colleges or schools. 

There also seems to be strong existing interest for an engineering college at ISU, with more than 7,1000 searches for “engineering” on the university’s website in the past year. 


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IBHE is also expected to vote on multiple new associate degrees for Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg and hear an a panel discussion on ways to close equity gaps in higher education. ISU’s proposed programs are the only new four year university or college programs on the agenda. 

The IBHE meeting is being held by a webinar, with registration required to watch or provide public comment. People who want to watch can register on the IBHE website at www.ibhe.org. 

Contact Connor Wood at (309)820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter: @connorkwood