Thursday, April 19, 2012

U of I students & alumni lobby lawmakers for funding

More than 200 University of Illinois alumni and students from its three campuses gathered at the state capitol on April 18, 2012 to meet with legislators as part of its fourth annual “University of Illinois Day at the Capitol” lobby effort.

“It really provides us an opportunity as alumni and friends of the university to put a face to the University of Illinois before the Illinois General Assembly,” said Tom Livington, chairman of the U of I Alumni Association board of directors.

Coordinated by Illinois Connection, the legislative advocacy network of the University of Illinois Alumni Association, concerned stakeholders canvased the statehouse and spoke one-on-one with their representatives to encourage funding support for the University of Illinois and higher education.

“Funding is the issue,” said John Tienken, a UIS student. “We’re trying to make sure higher education funding is steady next year and also we really want to remind legislators how vital MAP grants are to U of I students.”

U of I President-designate Robert Easter and chancellors, Susan Koch of UIS and Paula Allen-Meares of UIC, joined in the effort to reach out to lawmakers.

“We really want to convey to our legislators and our government leaders the importance of the University of Illinois, support for educating our students, so they can stay in Illinois, contribute to the Illinois economy, and be great citizens in our communities,” said Koch.

Students and alumni discussed with lawmakers the “human capital” that the University of Illinois generates, in terms of both innovation and growth, which creates a lasting economic footprint.

For many, like UIC student Joanne Skourletos, the fight for funding is personal. She has received MAP grant funding throughout her education.

“It’s really helped me to be able to focus on my studies, not having to worry about working extra hours to be able to fund my education, so it’s really been a helpful thing,” said Skourletos.

For more information about the U of I Alumni Association’s Illinois Connection advocacy program, visit

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