The links are University of Illinois-centric today – there just happen to be a number of news items out there (nothing about Chief Illiniwek here, although I'll tackle that at some point):
1) U. of I. Admission About to Get Harder for Residents – It's really interesting to see how efforts to make the University of Illinois into a more selective and elite institution seems to be thought of as a bad thing. At least that's the impression that I got from today's front page Chicago Tribune article. Of course, they just interviewed complaining high school students, parents, and counselors while not bothering to talk to a single U of I alum or current student. I understand the dilemma here, where the academic goals of a public university might run counter to the notion that it's supposed to provide a taxpayer-supported service to in-state residents.
However, as an alum, I want Illinois to be perceived nationally to be at the same level as Michigan and Berkeley. In order to achieve that, Chancellor Herman's initiative to bring in more out-of-state and international students is necessary. Wisconsin is an example of a public school that has been beating us in that regard and it's reflected in our Big Ten rival to the north consistently being rated higher than us in the U.S. News rankings. The quality of our faculty and the GPA and test score numbers of our students are right in line with both Michigan and Wisconsin, yet the biggest difference is that those other two schools draw a large percentage of high quality out-of-state students, particularly from the East Coast, while our student body has consisted of over 90% Illinois residents for quite awhile. If we only draw people from a single region, we're going to be perceived as a regional school.
2) Eighth Annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge Matchups – Is it too early to start thinking about college basketball again? I don't think so. We get a home date with Maryland on Tuesday, November 28th, which should be a pretty good matchup. The Ohio State-UNC game on November 29th, though, will probably be the top non-conference meeting of the year.
3) Illini Ponder Chicago Tournament – More basketball: Illinois might set up their own basketball tournament to take place over Thanksgiving weekend at the new arena being built in Hoffman Estates.
4) The World's Best University – A little pep-talk from a guy graduating this year that points out one of the things I loved about attending Illinois: balance.