Peoria's Mayor, Jim Ardis says he's glad to welcome President Robert Easter to Peoria.
"we do want to talk to the president about the population in Peoria that we feel is undeserved when it comes to a four year public college,' Ardis said.
But Easter said the decision isn't up to him.
"It's a policy decision. And it's a decision that gets made by local leadership, the general assembly and the Illinois Board of Higher Education," Easter said.
He said there are already options for people in Peoria to get a four year degree. Easter said the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria produces a lot of physicians who stay local. Easter said that's already one way the University of Illinois is serving the area.
"The College of Medicine here has made a commitment to add four full time faculty. This would be four researchers as well as teaching faculty," Easter said.
But Ardis said that's not enough.
"We're the largest metropolitan area in the state that doesn't have a four year college here, state college," Ardis said.
Illinois Central College's president, John Erwin said it's hard for working people to complete a masters degree when they have to commute an hour back and forth. He said teachers in Peoria should have more of an opportunity for further education.
"We know for our area, we're below state averages for masters completion. Masters completion state average is about 60 percent, for district 150 it's 50 percent," Erwin said.
Ardis said a university would help Peoria in other ways too.
"It also provides opportunity for growth for the city, people come into the city when they understand there's a university here where they can attend," he said.
Ardis said he wants to meet with Easter and Easter said his staff is looking to see if there is even a need in Peoria for a four year university.
The University of Illinois has more than 77,000 students statewide. More than 40,000 U of I alumni live within a 60-mile radius of the River City.