Southern Illinois University could establish a presence in downtown Springfield under a plan introduced in the legislature Wednesday by state Senator Andy Manar.
Manar’s plan (Senate Bill 179) would set aside $50 million in state capital funds for a grant to SIU for costs associated with the construction of a campus and public policy center. The site would have to be within one mile of the SIU School of Medicine at 801 N. Rutledge St.
“There is enormous potential in the idea of SIU placing a public policy center steps from the Capitol,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of a key Senate budget committee. “Coupled with a law school or something associated with the medical school, I think SIU could have a significant and lasting impact on downtown Springfield and the capital city at large.”
In March 2018, SIU officials indicated they were interested in putting a satellite law school campus in either downtown Springfield or in Edwardsville. Local officials have discussed the possibility of a higher education presence downtown, possibly on the long-vacant YWCA block just north of the governor’s mansion. The site would be a perfect location for an SIU campus, Manar said.
He also noted that the timing is right for the legislation with discussions about a potential capital bill under way.
“There should be something substantial for Springfield in the capital bill when it happens,” he said.