U of Illinois Votes to End Aviation Program

Sharon Rieger's picture

Trustees at the University of Illinois voted Thursday to end the school's aviation program, citing cost savings and dwindling enrollment.

The move closes the program and degrees it offers at the university's flagship campus, despite outcry from students and faculty who claim the university targeted the program years ago by not filling positions and that the demand for pilots is rising.

Interim Chancellor Robert Easter, who oversees the Urbana-Champaign campus, praised the program's "long and prestigious history as a leader in aviation education" but said ending it will save up to $750,000 a year. He said enrollment has dropped more than 50 percent from 2002 to 2010.

"We have concluded that it is in the best interests of the campus to discontinue the degree programs and to close the Institute," Easter told the board, which met in Chicago.

The board voted 6-2 in favor of closing, according to university spokesman Tom Hardy. University officials said the program officially ends in 2014 giving current students a change to finish their degrees.

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