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U. of Illinois President Wants to Make Online Campus Independent

In its short life, the online campus of the University of Illinois has not quite reached the bar administrators set when it opened nine months ago.

Just 121 students are enrolled in five degree programs, and the university’s president, Joseph White, fears that the $8.9-million project won’t hit its goal of enrolling 9,000 students by its fifth year, the Associated Press reports. That’s why he’s introducing the idea of making the project, known as the Global Campus, independent from the university’s Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield campuses, and of equipping it with its own accreditation.

Mr. White will present the idea to the university’s board of trustees in November and is convinced the virtual campus could generate around $10-million a year by reaching students who can’t attend the three physical campuses. If his proposal is approved by the board, Mr. White says the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools could grant the Global Campus accreditation in two to three years.

Part of the problem the Global Campus has faced is that departments on the university’s other campuses have had to create degree programs for it. Originally, Mr. White had hoped the university system’s professors would be eager to create online programs, but he soon realized that faculty members were already too busy.

“I’m not mad at anybody about that. I think we’ve come to realize that we have a university faculty that is at capacity,” Mr. White told the AP. —David DeBolt

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