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UI Holds Forum on Proposed Cuts to Institute of Aviation

UI Holds Forum on Proposed Cuts to Institute of Aviation

The University of Illinois held a public forum Tuesday night to get feedback about a budget recommendation to break up the 65-year-old Institute of Aviation.

University administrators say to help strengthen the U of I's financial situation, the Institute should be cut or disseminated to other academic units. The University reports declining enrollment at the Institute in the past decade, noting it had 176 applicants in 2002, admitting 119 and 65 freshman enrolled. In 2010, the Institute had 112 applicants, admitting 65 and 34 enrolled.

Interim Chancellor and Provost Robert Easter said with disappointing enrollment numbers, the Institute's structure needs to change.

"These are difficult decision," Easter told a large audience of faculty, students, parents and alumni. "Let me assure you that the campus remains committed to the current aviation students."

Easter estimates the University could save up to $750,000 a year by closing the program.

People who attended the forum said doing away with the institute would be a big mistake. They contend University administrators are trying to make closing the Institute easier by moving remaining faculty to other academic units, and denying Fall 2011 admission to new applicants.

"It's really been a Catch 22 from the beginning." Dana Dann-Messier, president of the U of I's Aviation Alumni Board, said. "They've taken away the faculty...and unfortunately we're seeing the same pattern now with students not being admitted into the program."

Dann-Messier said these restrictions are making it difficult for the Institute to get research grants and tuition.

The future of the Institute of Aviation ultimately rests with the U of I's Board of Trustees and the State Board of Higher Education.