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Gov. Quinn rallies for MAP grant

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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn came to Bradley University Thursday to call for reinstatement of funds for the state’s Monetary Award Program (MAP). The governor was joined by President Joanne Glasser, Senator David Koehler, Student Body President Kyle Malinowski and four MAP recipients, who took turns speaking to nearly 200 Bradley students and members of the community at the Hartmann Center.

Students displaying handmade signs with slogans such as “Stop the politics, start the education” and “Keep us on the MAP” filled bleachers on stage and much of the theater to hear the event’s eight speakers in what appeared to be a MAP rally.

“I think everyone knows our country’s economy is kind of bumping along and we have to improve it,” Gov. Quinn said.  “But even in tough budget times, there are core priorities.  It’s very important that we invest in education and we invest in these students here.  We cannot allow [MAP] to fall by the wayside this year.”

The 42-year-old MAP program provides up to $5,000 of financial assistance per year to more than 137,000 Illinois college students. The state program currently is not funded for the spring semester, leaving most of the 1,451 Bradley recipients scrambling for ways to make up the difference.

“It has been an aspiration of mine to be the first person in my family to graduate from college,” said senior Jennifer Durham, one of three Bradley students who spoke at the rally. “It will be devastating if that dream is cut short because the state fails to fulfill its pledge to assist in funding my education.”

Students receive MAP assistance based on financial need. Durham, like 40 percent of Bradley’s MAP grant recipients, is from a single-parent household.

Another student speaker was senior Nicole Carter, one of the 16 percent of MAP students who are African-American.

“I secured scholarships and loans to come to Bradley, but I needed a little extra boost,” the social work major said.  “MAP has provided that for me.  Without it, I have no way to fill that financial void. I have nowhere to turn.”

More than 28 percent of Bradley students receive MAP funding, leaving $3.4 million at risk for the spring semester.  The MAP program costs the state $400 million annually, an amount that was cut in half when the General Assembly passed a six-month budget in July. That left only enough money for one semester of funding for current students.

“MAP funding is not – should not – be a matter of politics,” President Glasser told the gathering. “These students’ livelihoods are too important for that. They just want a solution so they can pursue their dreams and give back to their communities and this state. That solution must come this fall so that our students can enroll in their classes and focus on their studies and their futures.”

In addition to the Bradley presence at the rally, Ryan Hall, a senior political science major from Illinois State University, was also invited to speak.  Additionally, members of the Robert Morris college hockey and bowling teams were also in attendance.

“While we may be rivals during basketball season, today we are united under this common cause,” Hall said.  “This is not an issue of just money.  Our lives and our futures are on the table.”

Glasser hosted a luncheon for six central Illinois legislators and 10 university presidents and their representatives on Wednesday to discuss the issue of MAP funding.  In addition to the luncheon meeting and Thursday’s rally, Bradley is urging MAP recipients to take part in a rally in Springfield on Oct. 15 and to continue writing their legislators to urge reinstatement of the funds.

Bradley University President Joanne Glasser on Wednesday hosted an unprecedented luncheon meeting of area lawmakers and college and university presidents. Those attending the gathering were, front row from left, Rep. Jehan Gordon of Peoria; Dr. Rose Campbell, executive vice president for instruction at Blackhawk College; President Glasser; Dr. Jerry Corcoran, president of Illinois Valley Community College; and Dr. Robert Ritschel, president of Spoon River College. Back row, from left, Rep. David Leitch of Peoria; Rep. Donald Moffitt of Gilson; Sen. David Koehler of Peoria; Dr. David Arnold, president of Eureka College; Roger Taylor, president of Knox College; Dale Bunch, president of Midstate College; Dr. John Erwin, president of Illinois Central College; Steve Norton, vice president of student services at Carl Sandburg College; Rep. Rich Myers of Colchester; and Rep. Keith Sommer of Morton.