The future of higher education is intertwined with the future of the economic health of our states and nation. The two are inseparable, and our universities are barometers. We need to face challenges head on.

“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.”

Theodore Rubin

Jodi S. Cohen and Alex Richards posted a piece in the Chicago Tribune last week, “Illinois Share of Students at U of I Continues to Decline.” Reportedly, a decade ago 90% of the freshmen at U of I called Illinois home. Currently, in-staters number 73% of the beanie-wearing class, 2% less than the University goal of 75%.

The reporters have spotted an important “canary in the coal mine.” The birds were used to proclaim the presence of poisonous vapors. When they died, it meant “get the hell out,” to borrow Gov. Chris Christie’s admonition. Similarly, the in-state enrollment decline at the U of I is one of many indicators that universities are choking on their civic commitment as catalysts for growth