Appropriation is part of recently-passed ‘Rebuild Illinois’ capital plan
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the release of funding for a Chicago State University nursing simulation laboratory at a news conference on the university’s campus Wednesday.
“That state-of-the-art facility will train thousands of students for jobs in one of the fastest growing industries, and that’s the medical profession, at a crucial moment,” Pritzker said at the event. “Illinois faces a nursing shortage across a number of specialties.”
CSU is a public university that is Illinois’ only four-year U.S. Department of Education-designated predominantly black institution, according to its President, Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott.
“Our scholars come from over 28 different countries and over 30 different states,” she said. “Our students are 70 percent African American, 10 percent Latinx, 69 percent are women and over 61 percent are first generation college students.”
She said the school is ranked number one among Midwest pharmacy schools in educating minority students by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.
Pritzker’s office announced the release of $2.5 million for the university to begin work on the multiphase $25.8 million simulation laboratory project.
The funding was included in the $45 billion capital infrastructure plan that passed the General Assembly at the end of its regular legislative session earlier this year.
The nursing simulation laboratory funding will go toward existing building infrastructure and technology capital improvements at the campus’s Douglas Hall, which already received more than $15 million from the state for other improvements in recent years, according to the governor’s office.
Pritzker said the “pay scale and opportunity” for students learning at the facility will be “significantly higher than it has been in the past.”
“With this investment, we’re showing that Chicago State’s current and future students can be proud,” he said.
Scott said enrollment at the university is up for the first time in 10 years as she thanked the General Assembly for passing the capital plan that will help revamp the infrastructure of campus buildings.
“Many of our buildings…are in need of repair,” she said. “With these capital funds, we’ll be able to make these repairs and use the savings to provide more services for our students.”
The campus will also see an additional $26.3 million in state-funded critical maintenance, according to the governor’s office.
Other state-funded projects for the university included in the capital plan are $3.6 million for boiler replacements, $2.6 million for elevator repairs, $7 million for repairs at an athletic building, $5.6 million for safety improvements, and $7.5 million for exterior work, roofing, windows, doors and mechanical systems at the university’s Robinson Center.
State Sen. Elgie Sims, a Chicago Democrat who represents the CSU area, said the campus has come a long way since rumors of its impending closure swirled at the height of a two-year budget impasse that occurred under former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“It is absolutely critical that we continue to invest in this university,” he said.