The Wall Street Journal on the EIU crisis: “Less than a decade ago, (Eastern Illinois University) enrollment was at its peak of 12,000. Then it began slipping by a few hundred ayear. The decline picked up speed after the state’s budget troubles began in 2015. Since then, enrollment has dropped by about 1,500 to 7,400 last fall. ...Administrators say it is doubtful that they will have even 7,000 students this fall.”
“In Charleston, where the university is based, empty storefronts litter Lincoln Avenue, the main thoroughfare running by campus. Jerry’s Pizza, a staple for professors and students since 1978, closed last October, citing the university’s shrinking population. ‘For Rent’ signs are posted outside rows of apartments that cater to students, with one ad offering free iPad minis to students who sign a lease.
“ ‘Had we had 12,000 students here, the businesses would probably all still be here,’ says John Inyart, a former Charleston mayor who owns an auto-repair shop across from the university’s main hall. He has had to cast his net wider for customers as faculty and students dwindle, he says.
“ ‘Any community that had a university was kind of like Teflon. You had that stability in your community, with stable good paying jobs,’ says Cindy White, chairwoman of the local chamber of commerce. ‘Well, now, that’s not so much anymore.’ ”