New Urbana U. leader pledges closer ties with businesses, community


Urbana University’s new executive vice president said Wednesday he plans to develop closer ties between the university and local businesses.

Christopher Washington was named executive vice president of Urbana University last month after former President George Lucas resigned. Washington said Wednesday the university will play a more active role in the region and will develop deeper ties with area businesses, particularly in fields like manufacturing.

“We have to offer programs of study that are relevant to the surrounding community,” Washington said.

RELATED: Manufacturer moving work from South Carolina to Springfield

Washington is taking over at a time when Urbana University will shift to a branch campus of Franklin University. Franklin acquired the Champaign County campus in 2014 after Urbana University faced years of lean enrollment and financial struggles. As part of the deal, Urbana now functions as a division of Franklin but retains its name. Franklin is a private, nonprofit institution based in Columbus.

The two entities currently undergo a separate accreditation process. If Urbana University receives approval to become a branch campus of Franklin, it would fall under Franklin’s accreditation process.

READ MORE: Clark, Champaign farmers seek tax relief

The Columbus school is working through that process with the Higher Learning Commission, an accreditation agency. Franklin hopes to receive approval to combine accreditation for the two universities as early as next month, Washington said.

Urbana University has been under academic probation since November 2014 when the smaller campus faced a variety of challenges. The university has about 1,800 students and has a roughly $31 million economic impact on the region.

DETAILS: Champaign County lawmaker proposes scrapping prevailing wage laws

Washington said he’s already meeting with leaders from Champaign County businesses and school districts to ensure the university’s academic programs are aligned with the skills employers want. Champaign County and the surrounding areas rely heavily on manufacturing, he said.

“We really are looking to ensure we’re more integrated into the Urbana community,” Washington said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Florida man asking for help to get back his stolen firefighter training gear
Florida man asking for help to get back his stolen firefighter training gear

A Jacksonville man said all of his firefighter training gear was inside his car when it was stolen for the second time in just a few months. Anel Muratovic wants to join the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. He is just a few months away from finishing a firefighter training program at First Coast Technical College in St. Augustine. “So...
Deputy injured, suspect in custody after 2-hour standoff in Champaign Co.
Deputy injured, suspect in custody after 2-hour standoff in Champaign Co.

UPDATE @ 9:06 p.m: One person is in custody after a police standoff that occurred at a residence in Champaign County Sunday evening. According to officials, they were called out to a residence near the 100 block of East Dallas Road for a complaint around 6 p.m. The suspect just happened to be in the area where police were called and ran when they...
Melania Trump poses with Bushes, Clintons and Obamas at Barbara Bush funeral
Melania Trump poses with Bushes, Clintons and Obamas at Barbara Bush funeral

The current first lady posed for a picture with former first ladies and past presidents Saturday at Barbara Bush’s funeral. First Lady Melania Trump is seen in the image, taken by photographer Paul Morse, with the Bushes, Clintons and Obamas. Trump, who attended the funeral without her husband, is seen standing alongside Michelle Obama....
Historic home built by inventor Charles F. Kettering for sale
Historic home built by inventor Charles F. Kettering for sale

A home built by Dayton inventor Charles F. Kettering is for sale. The seven-bedroom Gregorian sits on 3.75 acres at 318 Glenridge Road near Stroop Road in Kettering. The asking price for the 1929 home is $1.89 million. It is listed by Coldwell Banker Heritage. The home has craftsmanship that blends solid mahogany, custom cherry paneling, brass hardware...
Washington state man, 73, stuck in car for 12 hours after crash
Washington state man, 73, stuck in car for 12 hours after crash

Washington State troopers and firefighters rescued a 73-year-old man who spent about 12 hours stuck in his car after driving off the road near Tiger Mountain, police said Saturday. Eastside Fire officials said the man was in the car overnight, and that when crews arrived, he appeared to be OK. However, he was taken to the hospital for an evaluation...
More Stories