NORMAL – The Illinois State University Board of Trustees Friday gave the school authority to sell a piece of land in north Normal where student housing buildings have been empty since 2017.
The apartment complexes and one single-family house at 300 E. Shelbourne Drive, Normal, were identified in the summer of 2017 to be in need of “significant and costly” upgrades that exceeded the property’s value and university standards for housing needs. The 50-year-old 100-unit apartment complex was noted to be obsolete and unfit for student housing.
The board’s resolution on Friday deemed the area as surplus property, authorizing the university to sell the 25-acre lot.
Money received in the lot’s sale will be deposited in a separate account for ISU property requiring deferred maintenance and emergency repairs.
The Shelbourne Apartments, built in 1971, housed international students, graduate students, and students with families.
A few public speakers expressed concerns over ISU’s choice to not require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus for the fall semester in August.
ISU in June said students taking courses on campus who do not provide evidence of vaccination for COVID-19 will be required to partake in an on-campus COVID-19 testing program.
Students Steven Lazaroff, who said he is immunocompromised, and Alex Murarus, are worried because the school has not announced consequences for students who aren’t vaccinated and do not get regularly tested.
“Immunocompromised students did not sign up to play Russian roulette at lecture every morning because they’re not sure if the unmasked student next to them is vaccinated or not,” Murarus said.
ISU President Terri Goss Kinzy, who facilitated her first board of trustees meeting Friday since effectively becoming the school’s new leader this month, urged students to get vaccinated and reminded them of the possible scholarship incentives for those who are vaccinated.
Kinzy added that the school is “continually monitoring the situation. It changes. Recommendations change. What we do changes.”
“As a biomedical scientist who has studied messenger RNA her entire career, I support the scientific evidence that vaccination is our most effective strategy for community health,” said Kinzy, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and had a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular genetics.
Trustee Rocky Donahue added at the end of the meeting that he agreed with some of the public speakers’ concerns.
“I’ll openly tell you I’m very much pro-vaccination and I had this conversation with President Kinzy and other members of the board,” Donahue said. “And I’m hopeful we’ll have a larger conversation and even a potentially second look at this topic in the near future.”
Some speakers pointed to the Illinois Board of Higher Education's recommendations this week that universities should require students returning to campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The board also briefly acknowledged the 2021-2026 academic plan report.
The report includes developments for new academic programs, such as a proposal for establishing mechanical engineering and electrical engineering programs.
Other new program proposals include a Master of Science in Education degree in low vision and blindness; a Master of Science in nutrition; and offering accelerated master’s degree programs to be completed in five years instead of six.
In other business, the ISU Board of Trustees:
- Approved a resolution authorizing ISU to acquire its property insurance for fiscal year 2022 at a $1.1 million premium through the Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative through Alliant Insurance Services Inc.
- Approved a resolution renewing an intergovernmental agreement with the Town of Normal for fire protection services for fiscal year 2022 at $616,000
- Approved a resolution entering a new five-year contract with campus security force Securitas through fiscal year 2026 at a total $5 million
- Approved a resolution renaming the Pride Office, Room 136 in the Multicultural Center, as the Jim Bennett and Terry Vanden Hoek Pride Office in recognition of their financial gift
- Approved a resolution renaming a library and reading room in the Multicultural Center as the Dr. Jeanne B. Morris and Dr. Charles E. Morris Jr. Library and Reading Room in recognition of their financial gift
- Approved the ISU Board of Trustees 2022 board meeting calendar
- Approved a resolution giving former ISU President Larry Dietz president emeritus status
- Elected Mary Ann Louderback as board chairperson
- Elected Kathryn Bohn as board secretary
- Elected Devin Paoni as the board’s new student trustee