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November 20, 2006


SPRINGFIELD – A new initiative to provide financial incentives for outstanding nursing faculty to remain in teaching will be considered by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) next month. Board members also will hear from Michael McPherson, President of the Spencer Foundation, and a respected expert on the interplay of education and economics.

The Board, which will meet December 5 at Harold Washington College in Chicago, will act on 15 fellowships of $10,000 each to faculty members at Illinois colleges and universities that offer accredited nursing degree programs.

The Nurse Educator Fellowship Program is part of a multi-pronged effort by the Blagojevich Administration to attack the statewide nursing shortage. The difficulty in recruiting and retaining faculty to teach in nursing programs is often cited as a barrier to producing additional nurses.

The new program is intended to ensure the retention of well-qualified faculty by supplementing their salaries with fellowships. The nursing fellows were selected from among 37 applications submitted to the Board. To be eligible for the award, recipients must have at least a master’s degree in nursing and be a full-time faculty member.

The fellowship program is one of four new grant initiatives proposed by Governor Blagojevich and enacted by the General Assembly. Two new scholarship programs are administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, and the fourth is an IBHE competitive grant program for nursing schools. The latter is a $1.5 million effort to expand capacity at nursing schools and to provide funds for improving student retention and pass rates on licensing exams.

Dr. McPherson, the fifth President of the Spencer Foundation, is the former President of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a nationally known economist and co-author or editor of seven books, including Keeping College Affordable. He has been a trustee of the College Board and the American Council on Education, and holds degrees in mathematics and economics from the University of Chicago. The Spencer Foundation, which is located in Chicago, supports research about education. Traditionally, grantees have been affiliated with academic departments or schools of education at colleges and universities.

Dr. McPherson will address the Board on issues of college costs, efficiency, and affordability.

Board members also will act on joining a program enabling Illinois residents who attend college in certain Midwest states to receive a break on tuition. The Board will act on a resolution to add Illinois to the roster of states in the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP), a tuition reciprocity compact that will enable Illinois residents who attend college in participating out-of-state institutions to get a break on tuition. The program is sponsored by the Midwest Higher Education Compact (MHEC), an alliance of 11 states. Illinois would become the eighth state to join the student exchange program. Current members states include Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin; the states not involved in MSEP are Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio.

Under MSEP, students attending a participating public college or university are charged no more than 150 percent of the resident tuition rate. Private colleges and universities also may join the program by offering a tuition reduction of at least 10 percent to nonresident students.

Institutional participation is voluntary, and a college or university may restrict its involvement to certain degree programs, limit the number of MSEP students it will admit, and impose other requirements.

House Resolution 941, adopted in the spring legislative session, urged Illinois to join the tuition reciprocity program. It was sponsored by Representative Jack Franks, and cosponsored by Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Elaine Nekritz.

Nearly 20,500 students have enrolled in MSEP since its inception in 1994-95. Enrollment peaked in 2001-02 at 2,710. In 2005-06, enrollment was 2,089.


Don Sevener



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