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State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch will bring a legislative panel to Carbondale and Edwardsville this week to hear about the challenges and possible solutions for the Southern Illinois University system and higher ed in Illinois.

Welch, D-Hillside, is chairman of the Illinois House Higher Education Committee. In that role, he has helped shape a number of important reforms, led by a renewed commitment to properly fund MAP grants and scholarships for students who need help paying for college and to provide the state financial aid that is critical for the future of Illinois’ colleges and universities.

Welch is starting in Southern Illinois for two subject matter hearings at the SIU campuses in Carbondale and Edwardsville, where inequity of financing between the colleges has been a hot debate. There is legislative attempt underway to split the two campuses. Welch expects to hear from legislators representing the two campuses, campus administrators, faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders on a number of issues facing the SIU system.

The two local hearings will be:

• 1 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 20, at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale

• 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville

The first hearing will take place at SIU Carbondale Research Park Office of Economic & Regional Development 1740 Innovation Drive.

The Edwardville hearing will take place at Birger Hall SIUE, 30 North Circle Drive.

“The turmoil seen at SIU these last few months is unfortunate, and it only further underscores the need for us to meet with everyone involved and think very carefully about the best path forward – not only for the SIU community, but for all of higher education in Illinois,” Welch said. “I am looking forward to two days of hearings on the pros and cons of various proposals that will undoubtedly help us understand the challenges at SIU better and determine the best ways we can help.”