By Christine Des Garennes
Sunday, August 6, 2006
The University of Illinois plans to build a fourth campus. A virtual campus.
Last month, top UI administrators submitted to UI President B. Joseph White a 54-page report outlining plans to launch Global Campus, the UI's multimillion-dollar online education initiative.
The university already offers online education – about 6,900 students enrolled in online courses in 2005 – but the vision for Global Campus is much more grand. It's a top university priority, White said. It's also proposed to be a for-profit enterprise. During the next five, 10 and 20 years the UI will enroll tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of students from Illinois, around the country and the world in online degree programs, White said.
"This is huge," said UI Trustee Bob Vickrey, who is part of the Global Campus Steering Team. "This is probably the largest undertaking the university has looked at in a lifetime. It has the potential for really becoming something."
In the next several months, administrators will continue to develop the Global Campus business plan, assemble financial resources, design the curriculum, recruit faculty and put the software in place. Faculty from all three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield will hold forums on the subject.
ccording to the July report, Global Campus would begin operations in January 2007, and the first students would be enrolled in January 2008. The name Global Campus is a placeholder and likely to change, White said.
The price tag for the initiative is estimated at $15 million to $30 million over the next three years.
White, who has talked with private donors and foundations about funding, said he has received positive responses from people, especially when he explains how online higher education can allow many more students to earn UI degrees. These are students who might not have been able to enroll at one of the UI campuses on a full-time basis due to financial, family responsibility or other issues.
Why launch a Global Campus? Not enough Americans e