Illinois lawmakers seek more information on UI initiative

August 21, 2018 GMT

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — Lawmakers are summoning University of Illinois officials to Springfield to discuss a new public-private innovation center near downtown Chicago.

UI President Tim Killeen and other university officials have been asked to attend a Senate Higher Education Committee hearing about the Discovery Partners Institute on Aug. 28, The News-Gazette reported. The hearing comes after Killeen was urged in June by Republican state Sen. Chapin Rose of Mahomet to inform the community about the project.


“It’s not lost on me that unfortunately, the Senate Higher Education Committee had to force the issue by scheduling a hearing to bring him in and shed some light on this,” Rose said.

The university has also scheduled forums to brief faculty on the initiative at its three campuses Aug. 28-Aug. 30.

Killeen said the forums weren’t scheduled “in response to any crisis.”

“As the plans evolve, we want to make sure our faculty in particular, but also the external communities, are kept apprised of where we are,” he said.

The institute will partner the Urbana-Champaign campus with Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. It’s slated for $500 million in state funding this year.

The center is intended to bring together faculty, students and companies to collaborate on research and turn it into new products and companies, Killeen has said. The University of Illinois wants to recruit 90 new faculty members and up to 1,800 students to the center, he said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner supports the project, but Urbana leaders worry it might drain talent and money from its UI campus.

“Urbana-Champaign is going to be a major intellectual driver of the whole statewide network, and we all know that,” Killeen said. “It’s one of the main reasons we were able to be successful in our proposals and our thinking and our ideation about the whole structure.”

An implementation plan will be ready later this year, university officials said.


Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com