UIS Chancellor: Higher Ed "Between A Rock And A Hard Place" Financially

Mar 31, 2015

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch says if a proposed 31% state budget cut to higher education occurs, it would hamper the school's ability to carry out its mission. 

"It would be severely damaging," Koch said.  She added she is hopeful the eventual budget won't hit UIS so hard.  But she also expects less state support in the coming year.

"The reality is at this point we don't know where things will end up."

Koch will soon enter her 4th year at the helm of UIS  She says the university is looking at ways to curb expenses but also to increase revenue.   That includes increasing enrollment, which is already at an all time high. 

But growing the number of students while keeping the cost of college in check is becoming increasingly difficult. Koch says if a 31% cut were to become a reality, it would be the equivalent of raising tuition 20%.

"We have increased tuition over the years because we had to. But we don't feel like that's a place we can go for additional support for our budget. So we're, as they say, between a rock and a hard place here."

The U of I Board of Trustees voted to keep in-state tuition flat for the coming academic year. The mission of the university, according to Koch, remains educating students. 

Koch said there is no expectation of employee furloughs.  However, she points out the majority of state dollars go to pay employee salaries. 

"There's no doubt if the budget reduction is severe, that is going to affect the number of people we can employ," she said.

A recent study found UIS provides $176 billion in economic impact on Sangamon County.  That doesn't include providing a better educated workforce through those who graduate from the school.

"It's a great argument as to why the state needs to support public universities."

WUIS receives support from the University of Illinois Springfield.  Staff is employed by the school.