By Jeff Bossert
Parkland College may be taking over the University of Illinois’ Institute of Aviation. The school's Board of Trustees will vote on an intergovermental agreement Wednesday.
U of I Trustees voted to end the institute in 2011. There are still students enrolled, but stopped accepting new ones after Trustees cut the program.
Parkland President Tom Ramage says his school would hope to take over operations by the fall of 2014.
He admitted the operation of a flight school connected to Parkland would start smaller than the institute’s largest classes of more than 200 students.
“That’s certainly the top end, given the number of airplanes available, and just the number of hours in a day that those can be scheduled," he said. "Obviously we’d be starting much smaller. There are some 90-ish students in the program today, and we’d be hoping to start around the same number, and grow it up to a reasonable approximation of 200 in a short period of time.”
Ramage says Parkland has been looking at taking over Aviation for about five years, but this proposal has the advantage of a working partner, Riverside Research of the U of I's Research Park.
He said if the program is approved, Parkland would likely subcontract some services from Riverside.
"Aviation is not something Parkland College has a lot of experience with," he said. "But we have partners who do. And that's the difference this time is we have another partner who has experience with not only aviation in general, but perhaps flight schools. That's the difference today, is we have some reasonable chance for creating a program that makes good sense from the student standpoint and the institutional standpoint."
“We are excited that Parkland College is considering continuing this program, so that students throughout this community, including those at Illinois, will have a path into a great career," said U of I Urbana campus Chancellor Phyllis Wise, in a statement.
Ramage says the cost to Parkland to pick up the Institute would be "almost zero."
Parkland College Trustees meet on the campus at 7 p.m. Wednesday.