SPRINGFIELD – A bid to separate the Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University from the rest of the SIU system has gained at least one potential ally in the Illinois Senate.
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said Monday that he wants to further investigate legislation filed last week that would make the Edwardsville campus of SIU, as well as the Springfield medical school and the dental college in Alton, a separate university from Carbondale.
“I think it’s a viable proposal,” Manar told reporters during a conference call.
Legislation that would separate the two campuses was filed last week by state Rep. Jay Hoffman, a Collinsville Democrat. He introduced a similar proposal 10 years ago that managed to win approval in a House committee before dying in the House without any debate.
Former state Rep. Thomas Holbrook, D-Belleville, tried again in 2005, but his legislation went nowhere.
The renewed debate over separating the campuses comes after Gov. Pat Quinn ignited a firestorm over the SIU board of trustees by attempting to replace three long-time members last week.
The Illinois Senate soundly rejected Quinn’s nominees leaving the board without enough members to meet.
Manar said he is backing a proposal that would require a governor to nominate three trustees who are graduates of the Carbondale and three trustees who are graduates of Edwardsville campuses. He also plans to file an amendment requiring the seventh appointed member of the board of trustees to be a graduate of the SIU School of Medicine.
But, he also said separating the campuses may have some potential.
“Perhaps the time has come that we should take a look at that,” Manar said.
State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, said his freshman colleague is wrong.
“I definitely am 100 percent against separation,” Forby said Monday. “I wouldn’t go for that all.”