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Education Desk
The Education Desk is our education blog focusing on key areas of news coverage important to the state and its improvement. Evidence of public policy performance and impact will be reported and analyzed. We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of education from pre-natal to Higher Ed.Dusty Rhodes curates this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.About - Additional Education Coverage00000179-2419-d250-a579-e41d385d0000

State Board Of Higher Ed Names New Director

Al Bowman midshot in tree-lined area
Illinois State University
Al Bowman

Al Bowman, a former president of Illinois State University, has been tapped to lead the Illinois Board of Higher Education. His appointment comes as higher education institutions have seen their budgets slashed and enrollment decline, so it’s hard to know whether to congratulate him.

“You know, I’ve been getting that from people,” Bowman laughs.

He is going into his new job eyes wide open. Illinois ranked number two in the nation for net loss of college students.

And that was before the state’s two-year budget impasse that strangled school budgets and made families even more skeptical about entrusting their little darlings to Illinois colleges and universities.

“Yeah, it’s not a new problem,” Bowman says. “When I was president for 10 years, from 2003 to 2013, it’s something I talked about constantly. I saw it as a negative for the state.”

He stepped down from the ISU presidency for medical reasons, but continued teaching part-time. More recently, he has provided  professional development on a volunteer basis through the American Council on Education, in Washington, D.C.

Tackling the state’s college enrollment crisis tops his to-do list.

“I think the reason it’s being talked about now is that, as the pool of 18-year-olds has shrunk in the Midwest, and as competition has increased for students, there’s a lot of concern that some of the public universities may not be able to meet their enrollment target,” he says. He says he wants to help the governor and legislature understand that such an impasse was harmful and can’t happen again. Bowman succeeds James Applegate, who resigned earlier this year.


After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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