UI expansion plans slated to reach Chicago suburbs

By Natalie Carino

Since Illinois residents constitute 89 percent of the University’s student body, and many of them reside in Chicago suburbs, the plan to expand the University’s campus to the suburbs sounds like an appealing option.

This scenario could be a reality as soon as next fall.

The University is looking at about 30,000 square feet located at 1100 E. Warrenville Rd. in suburban Naperville.

The building, which was formerly Lucent Technologies, would be the new home to extension programs limited to non-credit classes and courses toward obtaining a master’s degree at the University.

The program would eventually allow graduates to attain their master’s without having to come back to Champaign-Urbana.

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    “The University is looking to have three separate programs,” said Amy Emery, a community planner for the American Institute of Certified Planners, an organization that certifies professionals in the field of urban planning.

    This includes a Business and Industry Services Coalition, University of Illinois Extension Office and degree programs, Emery said.

    The University of Illinois Extension aims at offering educational programs to Illinois residents.

    According to their Web site, extension programs are “aimed at making life better, healthier, safer and more profitable for individuals and their communities.”

    While most programs offered by the University of Illinois Extension are informal and non-credit classes, Mary Rose Hennessy, executive director for Business and Industry Services, said the University is hoping to offer credit classes during the evenings and on the weekends.

    Hennessy said this would be convenient for graduates who want to work, but also want a master’s degree from the University.

    This program will be completed as early as next fall.

    Non-credit instructional courses would also be offered at the site starting in spring 2007.

    These classes would cover different topics such as health, food, security and safety, environmental stewardship and sustainable/profitable food production and marketing, Emery said.

    The plan has already passed through the plan commission, but the University still needs to obtain a conditional-use permit before proceeding with the plan.

    To obtain this permit, they need city council approval. The Naperville City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal Nov. 6.

    Factors that have yet to be decided such as the specific classes that would be offered and the cost of these classes can weigh in on the decision to take part in extension programs.

    “I think it would be a good idea, but it depends on the price,” said Lindsay Johnson, junior in Business.

    “If it was reasonably priced I would definitely take advantage of that. It would be very convenient,” she added.