April 04, 2008

SIUC contingent will lobby legislators next week

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Students and educators will take their case for funding to the state legislature in Springfield next week for the annual Higher Education Lobby Day at the state capitol.

Representatives from several constituencies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will be among the hundreds seeking the attention and support of Illinois lawmakers during the Wednesday, April 9, event. The University will hold a training session for those making the trip at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, at the SIUC Student Health Center auditorium.

The event will feature a coalition of college and university employees, students and others pleading their case in Springfield. Supporters say higher education is not a luxury, but a necessity that will allow the state and the country to stay competitive.

SIU President Glenn Poshard said Lobby Day is an important opportunity for those who care about higher education.

"It is important for students, faculty and staff at our university to make their voices known with respect to the needs for higher education," Poshard said. "This has been an effective day in the past and I highly encourage people to participate this year."

Dave Gross, executive assistant for government relations in the SIU Office of the President, said the University is focusing on increasing operating funds and funding for student financial aid programs, as well as passing a capital program.

Carolyn F. Donow, president of the Emeritus & Annuitants Association, which represents retired University staff, said her group wants to thank lawmakers for doing a better job funding the State University Retirement System obligations during the last few years, after several spotty years of funding. Donow said needs for higher education continue to grow.

"We need more money for higher education and universities across the state are just crying for it," said Donow, who retired from the SIUC Office of Research Development Administration in December 2006. "We need space and building renovations and more. Our group wants to join with people throughout higher education to call for more funding."

Lobby Day participants from SIUC will leave Carbondale on buses at 7 a.m. April 9, arriving at an Illinois Education Association rally in Springfield about 10:15 a.m. They will then spend the afternoon lobbying lawmakers at the state capitol before leaving Springfield at 4 p.m.