Many cuts considered at UI

Many cuts considered at UI

URBANA — Avoiding specifics, University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen said Thursday that the university is considering further cuts to administration, consolidation of academic programs and other steps as it prepares for an expected funding cut from the state.

Speaking to reporters after Thursday's UI Board of Trustees meeting, Killeen said he wouldn't respond to "hypotheticals" about how the UI will manage if no state budget agreement is forthcoming by the end of the year.

"There's no date when we're going to pack up and move out," Killeen said.

Unable to approve its own budget for the academic year, the UI has been operating under a continuing resolution based on the 2014-15 budget.

The UI has prepared "intensively" for an 8.1 percent budget cut approved by legislators as well as Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed 31.5 percent cut, and all levels in between, Killeen said.

"We're making those prudent decisions now to adjust our spending rates appropriate to all of those potential outcomes," he said.

Provosts on Wednesday discussed several degree programs that are being consolidated or phased out because of declining student interest or because they're being absorbed into other units, including master's programs in public administration and general engineering.

"We're looking at hiring processes; we're looking at the salary programs. We're looking across the board," Killeen said. "Everything has been on the table for quite a while."

Earlier this year the university imposed a hiring freeze on central administration, postponed the campus salary increase program and slowed faculty hiring.

Killeen declined to say how long the UI can continue to operate without its state appropriation, which was roughly $660 million last year.

"We have our options in place," Killeen said. "The expectation is this impasse will go on for some period of time."

The state still owes the UI about $49 million from fiscal 2015, which ended June 30, and the university has about $160 million in bills for the current academic year, mostly for payroll costs, UI Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Walter Knorr said.

The state comptroller said this week that the state's backlog of unpaid bills could balloon to $8.5 billion by the end of December, and that doesn't include higher education, Knorr said. The state isn't accepting bills for fiscal 2016 until the state budget is resolved, he said. The UI is racking up about $75 million a month, he said.

In 2010, the state owed the UI about $500 million at one point. The university dipped into its "operating pool" of cash, which then totaled about $800 million, to cover the cash-flow problem.

The pool is made up of tuition money, insurance reserves, private-gift balances and institutional funds — money set aside from grants and contracts for administrative overhead, known as "indirect cost recovery." Much of the cash is earmarked for other areas eventually, but the university can borrow from it temporarily to cover payroll and other costs.

Killeen planned to return to Springfield today to lobby for an end to the budget stalemate.

"The longer it drags on, the more damage is done to the university," he said.

But he added, "The university is in very sound shape, I think because of prudent fiscal stewardship. We're not looking at a cliff; we're not crying wolf to the public."

In other action, Trustee Patrick Fitzgerald suggested the university consider expanding a new policy requiring background checks for new employees to cover graduate student workers and employees who change positions at the UI as well.

The policy, approved Thursday, won't take effect until Oct. 5. Fitzgerald said he didn't want to amend it at this point but asked for a report on expanding the policy at the board's January meeting.

"No decisions have been made," Fitzgerald told reporters after the meeting. He said he just wanted students, faculty and others to be aware that the issue will be discussed. "We want to consult with all the appropriate folks."

Some UI professors had already complained that the new policy is too broad and raised questions about employee privacy.

The policy is not intended to rule out anyone with a criminal history from working at the university, Fitzgerald emphasized.

"It's simply to make sure we make informed decisions," he said, adding that the policy will be continually evaluated.

The UI will not conduct a background check on every applicant. Checks will be done after a job offer has been made and accepted by the employee.

Also Thursday:

— Trustees approved the appointment of interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson to replace Phyllis Wise, at a salary of $397,500, and interim Provost Edward Feser to replace Ilesanmi Adesida, at a salary of $330,550. Wise and Adesida resigned last month in the midst of an investigation into the use of private email accounts for university business.

Kathleen Harleman, director of the Krannert Art Museum and professor of art and design, was appointed to fill in for Feser as interim dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, at a total salary of $211,738.

— The UI announced that it would kick off its 15-month sesquicentennial celebration in February 2017, when it was founded as Illinois Industrial University.

— The board approved a $3 million budget increase for the renovation of the Natural History Building, UI's oldest academic building, to $76.4 million.

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Lostinspace wrote on September 11, 2015 at 8:09 am

Julie Wurth, was there any indication of faculty involvement in the "we" that the president repeatedly used?

Bulldogmojo wrote on September 11, 2015 at 8:09 am


The State's attorney and this University needs to go after anyone who is the subject of an ethics investigation that results in a determination of wrongdoing to recoup the funds related to the costs of the investigation, the hiring of outside consulting firms and any other expenses related to correction of the infraction.

Phyllis Wise should have to pay for all the costs she has imposed on this University through her subverting the ethics regulations and for the cost of defending her Salaita decision.

1,300+ AFSCME staff have been without a contract for over a year wiht the University declaring it is broke but they have plenty of money to hire outside firms and to vette, hire, investigate, then terminate and then more millions for searches for a replacement but they want AFSCME 3700 to take no raises for 2-4 years in the face of Rauner about to double the healthcare premiums for working families.

InTheMorningCU wrote on September 11, 2015 at 11:09 am

Nice as it would be, neither of those first two ideas would ever come to pass.

As far as AFSCME goes, I would imagine most members are lower paid employees (relative to faculty/executive administration)...they are nowhere near a priority. They are a necessary component of operations, but they are not a priority. It's not fair, it's a shame, it's reality.

In the words of George Carlin: "...they don't give a **** about you, they don't care about you, at all, at all, at all."

Bulldogmojo wrote on September 11, 2015 at 7:09 pm


Yes unfortunately there is no justice other than shaming someone to retreat to their 6 figure job at this University when they get caught running their own sideshow...

Well if AFSCME goes on strike which is very possible now with the federal mediator failing in spades they might have to care enough to settle a contract. I do recall reading the comments at the bottom of all the articles clearly written by people who had to cover for the SEIU strikers a couple of years ago. Very funny you could feel the waves of rage coming off the comments. It was truly a bright spot in my day seeing the leadership's complete disregard for their individual department's employees coming back to bite them. LOL and they had less than half the members AFSCME has.

They're going to shut the U of I off like a light switch. Just wait til the Governor gets inundated with calls from angry parents, "My stupid kid had to wait for 6 hours at McKinley blah blah blah", why can't i get my transcripts Waaaaaah. There's no one to straighten out my dorm room asignments, sniff...

It's gonna be fun to watch. maybe they'll drag out all contracts long enough so all the Unions can go on strike at once!! That won't be much longer either...hee hee

basset wrote on September 11, 2015 at 9:09 am

Getting rid of the masters in public administration will not save any money - no students have been admitted to that program for 25+ years and it just sits on the books

Sideliner wrote on September 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Keep a close eye on what are called "cuts" or "reductions" as you work through the smoke and mirrors. 

byrdslover wrote on September 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Keep in mind that the administrative "hiring freeze" is for "central administration" only.  That means the people whose administrative duties are for all three campuses.

It does not impact the hiring of adminstrators for the individual campuses, where UIUC keeps adding legions of Assistant/Associate/Double Assistant Associate Deans and their incredibly over-generous salaries and raises.

Same as it ever was.

andrewscheinman wrote on September 11, 2015 at 8:09 pm

There's also this weird question of how "the Foundation" figures in this.  A lot of the present lawsuits seem to be underwritten at least partially by "the Foundation," if my memory of press releases serves me.  But I have no idea at all what that actually means ... is that a pot of supersecret non-taxpayer money that UIUC can dip into whenever they feel like it?

dadogg wrote on September 12, 2015 at 7:09 am

The AFSCME stranglehold has to end. They have forced groups to join with strong-arm tactics, have increased cost and have made the running of the University less effective. Not that administration is the poster child for efficiency. Probably about 1/3 of administration and 1/4 of their staff could be cut. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 12, 2015 at 8:09 am

AFSCME has never "strong-armed" any one to join their union.  They have not "increased cost" unless you believe that they are not entitled to health and safety in the workplace, decent wages, and health insurance.  The state, county, and municipal employees are not peons as you seem to imply.

It is always easy to blame the workers instead of the management, legislators, and governors who are the culprits regarding "increased cost", and "strong-arm tactics".  Of course, some people were raised on union hating by their parents.  Your "probably" regarding the university is based on what?

Bulldogmojo wrote on September 12, 2015 at 10:09 pm


Stranglehold? Bwahahaha

If you call $1 an hour average increase per year a stranglehold it makes me wonder what kind of crap job are you involved in dadogg?

Strong arm tactics, like what? This isn't 1953 Teamsters "find you by your smell stuffed in the trunk of your car in the meadowlands" type of union culture, so I guess your definition of "strong arm" is what a disappointing look? Pretty thin skinned you must be. Laughable.

If someone doesn't want to be in a job that is represented by a union there are plenty of minimum wage jobs with no benefits out there that people with little to no self respect are welcome to take. That is your solution dadogg go work at Arby's while the rest of us run the city that is the University of Illinois.

Once again just a reminder There is no Illinois economic recovery without higher education. There is no higher education without the support staff carrying out the logisitics.

Food truck licenses do not move the needle except for dadogg and his/her rent-a-center furnished apartment.

TyroneHogglegg wrote on September 14, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Yes, I recall getting my 9.32 an hour job years ago...and then a few weeks after... 2 large gentlemen in dark overcoats and sunglasses came to visit me in the trailer park. They said they were from AFSCME and that if I didn't join their union, they might egg my trailer...or even worse...Pull a random "ding dong ditch" on me at some early morning hour...


Needless to say I was terrified....Thanks to dadogg for brining up this up...Stop it AFSCME!!!!

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 14, 2015 at 5:09 pm