A two-day conference at Illinois State University seeks to spread best practices among the state's institutions of higher learning. All public four-year universities and most community colleges are in attendance, sharing in each other's practices aimed at boosting graduation rates and reducing costs.
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon says ISU's aggressive internship program is an example of a best practice the university is sharing.
"They're placing students often in paid internships that are leading to direct connections in hiring after college, so it seems to be a model that is particularly aggressive in recruiting those business leaders to host the interns and it seems to meeting with great approval from the employer community as well."
Simon also cites a program at University of Illinois-Springfield allowing students to be enrolled at UIS and community colleges simultaneously, and an NIU model which identifies when students might be heading off course for graduation. She says an important aspect of the conference is each institution is asked to pick an existing best practice that can be put into action.
All administrators are receiving a guide Simon dubs the "completion playbook" that also lists suggestions from national experts.