Though state still owes $279 million, UI is under budget

Though state still owes $279 million, UI is under budget

CHICAGO – Still owed $279 million by the state, the University of Illinois is faring well on a couple of fronts, including tuition, its hospital and energy costs.

At a Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, Vice President Walter Knorr said that between careful pricing strategies and conservation, the university was $16 million under budget.

"We're doing well on conservation," he said.

Tuition has crossed over to become a more important funding source for the UI than state tax payments, Knorr said, with tuition revenue up to $730 million this year, compared to $486 million in 2006, through price increases and higher enrollment.

The UI also did well in federal stimulus money, for a total of $170 million, but that money won't be coming back, he noted.

But Knorr said the state increased funding for kindergarten though grade school, while cutting higher education more than other sectors like community colleges or financial aid.

"I was told I had to cut this presentation 5 percent," Knorr said after one of his slides went missing.

After the meeting, board Chairman Chris Kennedy called the state "an unreliable partner" in funding, but stressed that he didn't want to see tuition rise to the point where lower- and middle-class students might be priced out.

The controversy of adjunct professor Kenneth Howell, who was not rehired after a student complained there was hate speech in one of his e-mails, didn't come up during the meeting, but afterward Kennedy said that he had full confidence in the faculty/student Senate committee investigating the matter.