University Presidents Lobby State Lawmakers As Budget Heats Up

May 26, 2015

Heavyweights from each of Illinois' public universities gathered for a rare meeting at the state Capitol yesterday.

It's thought to be the first time leaders from all nine state schools have collectively met with the governor's office and the leaders in the General Assembly.

The University of Illinois' new President, Tim Killeen, says they didn't go into specifics about the budget.

"But to demonstrate by our coming together, with our 200,000 students and 50,000 graduates a year, that we're part of the solution for the overall issue, and we're willing to look intensively and resolutely and relentlessly on creating forward momentum," he said.

That was echoed by Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn.

"We want to make sure that we're seen in that role, as an investment rather than just a cost setter," Dunn said before heading into a meeting with Senate. President John Cullerton.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed whacking higher education finding by about 30-percent; Democrats are proceeding with a budget that cuts the schools by 6.5-percent.

The convening of university presidents comes just after Senate Democrats released a report that admonishes some colleges for bestowing administrators with lavish perks like country club memberships.

Also in attendance were the Presidents of Eastern, Illinois State, Chicago State, Governor's State and Northeastern, the board chairs of Northern Illinois University and Western Illinois University, and the Chancellor of the University of Illinois Springfield.