WIU, EIU Feeling Budget Crunch

Jan 26, 2016

Some students demonstrated before the BoT meeting. “I’m supporting the teachers. I don’t think any of them should be laid off,” said junior Sara Lane.
Credit Rich Egger / Tri States Public Radio

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees voted 5-to1 during a special meeting Monday to authorize staff reductions for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016.  Staff cuts are just one part of Western’s plan for cutting spending by roughly $10 million due to declines in enrollment and state financial support.

The administration said it’s still working to determine how many jobs will be lost and how much money will be saved through staff reductions. President Jack Thomas said he intends to remove tenured faculty from the proposed lay-off list, and he called Monday’s action by the board “just the start” of the process. 

Thomas said 59 employees took advantage of an early retirement program offered late last year.  He said that will ultimately save the University $1.5 million per year if some of the positions are not filled.

BoT members who supported the staff reduction resolution are Chairman Roger Clawson, Lyneir Cole, Cathy Early, Carolyn Ehlert Fuller, and Yvonne Savala.  Phil Hare opposed it.  Todd Lester abstained (he was just appointed to the Board on January 15).  The student representative on the Board, Michael Quigley, was ineligible to vote.

The meeting lasted more than an hour, even though the staff reduction authorization was the only item on the agenda.  Notable quotes from the meeting:

My Leadership Team and I have engaged all members of the University community to offer feedback regarding our fiscal challenges, and we have made decisions with that feedback in mind. The decision to lay off members of our University community is not easy. – Jack Thomas, University President

We all feel the pain and the hurt. I want to encourage people, students especially, to take that pain to Springfield. Take it to your governor, who won’t invest in my future and won’t invest in your future and won’t invest in this area of the economy. We can fight amongst ourselves all day but the real fight is with our governor, who doesn’t care about Western Illinois University. – Michael Quigley, BoT member

WIU is not a business. It is not a technical college. It is a university. And a university has to protect and promote the liberal arts. – Ute Chamberlin, Associate Professor of History, who said her name is on the lay-off list.

I think what we are facing now is – after many years, even decades – the state of Illinois has gotten itself into a bad spot. And we are sitting around this table having to manage some of the fallout. It’s very difficult. – Carolyn Ehlert Fuller, BoT member

The president and his administration led us to this moment by failing to stem -- let alone reverse -- enrollment decline, and by failing to retain the students who did enroll. – Bill Thompson, Chapter President of the University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100

To the faculty … It’s on you.  We need your support, we need your help. We’re going to do what other things we need to do but we need your support and your help. – Lyneir Cole, BoT member

We are being held hostage by the state of Illinois. Your pension system is being held hostage by the state of Illinois. Our budget, funding for our students, funding for our faculty, funding for our staff – it’s all being held hostage in Springfield. – Cathy Early, BoT member

I do not believe this is in the best interest of the university. I don’t believe this is in the best interests of the faculty and their families. – Phil Hare, BoT member


CHARLESTON, Ill. (AP) _ Eastern Illinois University's president says the state
budget impasse will bring potential layoffs and furlough time for employees to
the school.
 The Mattoon Journal-Gazette and (Charleston) Times-Courier reported Monday
(http://bit.ly/1RKQi16 that EIU President David Glassman sent a budget update
letter to the campus. In it he blamed Illinois' financial troubles for EIU's
monetary problems. He says EIU hasn't received its state appropriation of about
$40 million.
 Glassman laid out immediate cuts including all non-instructional equipment
purchases, delaying maintenance and repairs that aren't related to safety and
security and freezing employee-reimbursed travel.
 Glassman said layoffs and furloughs will be possible if EIU's state appropriate
continues to be delayed as the semester continues. He said the school aims not
to diminish academic excellence.
     The state has been without a budget since the summer.
     Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette, http://www.jg-tc.com

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