Killeen: UI's future dire if fight drags on

Killeen: UI's future dire if fight drags on

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SPRINGFIELD — University of Illinois President Tim Killeen told lawmakers Tuesday that the UI is burning through its cash reserves at the rate of $75 million a month and that if the university still has no budget next spring, it will be a "very different" place.

"If we go through May next year then you will see a very different University of Illinois. It will no longer be a top 25 university which we can point to with pride. I can tell you that," Killeen told an Illinois House committee of the whole hearing Tuesday that started around 5:35 p.m. Tuesday and went for two hours.

The UI president, along with the presidents of Western Illinois and Chicago State universities, had been scheduled to address lawmakers at noon, but their testimony was delayed by a long day of legislators meeting in private and then voting on a number of bills. A second panel of higher education officials was scheduled to testify after the university presidents.

Higher education officials were brought before the House to talk about the problems they're encountering as the state enters its fifth month without a fiscal year 2016 budget. The Democratic Legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner have been at odds for most of the year over different budget plans.

Although many state programs are being funded because of court orders and consent decrees, higher education is going without money in the current budget year.

Although most of his testimony was about the grim budget outlook, Killeen turned hopeful as he talked about the university's future.

He spoke of boosting the UI's enrollment; earlier this fall he suggested it could grow to 100,000 students.

"There'll be many opinions and I am one voice, but I think we should look hard at increasing enrollment," he said. "In the case of the University of Illinois we have four applicants for every student that comes in. We grew our enrollment without any loss of quality, so we have demand for our product. And our product, in terms of degrees, is very valued."

He said the UI "has room to grow, but it's required capacity, and that means classrooms, professors. And I'm very interested in the potential of real partnerships with the community colleges in the state. Those students coming out of the two year (schools) can go on to get a four-year degree at the University of Illinois."

Although there are full classrooms for freshmen and sophomores, Killeen said, "it's not so full for the junior and senior class. So I think that's where we have extra capacity, and we have an opportunity to grow enrollment. And we should do that without sacrificing one iota of quality or excellence, but committed to public good as more students from Illinois get access to this world-class education."

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Gourmet wrote on November 11, 2015 at 8:11 am


Governor Rauner is denying the people of the State of Illinois a fully functioning public college system with his budget game. The public Universities belong to the people of this state, it's not a bargainig chip to be used in his game to get tax concessions for himself which is all he sought public office for.

NewtoState wrote on November 11, 2015 at 3:11 pm

The Governor is just trying to get this state fixed.  My GOD people, don't you see what Madigan and the other Democrats have done to this state(yes little 's', since we might not be a state for long).  All the Democrats want to do is SPEND, SPEND, SPEND, and then SPEND some more.  Illinois has a balanced budget law, but they do a balanced budget....NO!   What do you want to do to increase revenue to offset the rapid spending rise?  MORE taxes.   Tell you want, all you academia that probably have never worked in the real world, stick to you books and leave the real work to people who have worked hard all there lives and know what should be done to fix this MESSED up state.

Bulldogmojo wrote on November 11, 2015 at 7:11 pm


Well thanks for your input 'NewToState', I'm glad you could take time from your busy schedule of stocking your food truck or fixing your own transmission to enlighten us as to how your views on how the so called "real world" and academia are diametrically opposed to success.

Now when you say "academia" are you also referring to firefighters, police, secretarial staff, custodians, nurses, physicians, lab technicians, parking staff, plumbers, electricians, painters, power plant operators, carpenters, cooks, dishwashers, drivers, child care workers, pharmacy technicians, 911 operators, bookstore clerks, sheet metal workers, cashiers, assembly hall workers, grounds keepers, et al...OR were you just referring to tenured professors? All these jobs and more are represented at the University so you clearly have no clue as to what it takes to operate the University which is a city unto itself in every respect.

The Governor is not trying to fix anything but the tax code for his own benefit by strong-arming the leadership at the expense of the disabled, low income people who need child care assistance, and the elderly who have paid dearly on the front lines of this conflict he has generated. Only the Conservatives he paid off with so called campaign contributions (bribes) are silent on his antics, other GOP members publicly called him out on his nonsense.

If you're so confident of his "FIX" then you must have seen his magic revenue plan? Yes? If so you're the only one in the entire state of Illinois who has. Tell us, what's his plan, besides refusing to come to meetings?

So 'NewToState' I suggest you go back to your OLD state where your limited perspective is valued more than the application of higher education. I'm guessing the south?

vcponsardin wrote on November 11, 2015 at 9:11 am

It's unfortuante that the UI continues to experience these troubles--a long line of administrative blunders and destructive patterns that extend back decades.  I've been on the faculty for almost 25 years now and I've seen the many troubles up close.  And they extend from the very top of the leadership ladder to the front lines.  For instance, I recently calculated that my salary today, in 1992 dollars, is actually less than it was when I was first hired.  This sort of unnecessary situation comes from years of administrative neglect and deliberate institutional abuse of the faculty--the misguided belief that if the administration slowly strangles its own faculty through poor (or no) cost of living increases and anemic annual merit raises that they'll stay anyway.  Well, that's simply not true.  This university is infamous in many fields as being merely a "stepping stone" where young and mid-career faculty stop off for a few years before moving on to greener pastures, leaving the UI poorer for the loss.  I readily admit I'm no great loss, I'm sure, but even I have decided to move on and finish my career at a top-flight peer insitution beginning next year.  It's been fun here and I leave with mixed emotions, but the slow and steady draining of top faculty, especially in the humanities and arts, has cost this institution dearly.  And I see no hope it will ever change. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on November 11, 2015 at 11:11 am

Sorry to read that you are leaving.  We might have not agreed on every issue, but I have respected your voice of reason over the past years.

All of the state's educational systems are being devastated by Rauner's demands.  He has used the state's children, elderly, disabled, and poor as hostages in his CEO demands.  Sadly, it will end up with no reimbursement for the past.  Monies will only be for the future once a budget is decided on.

andrewscheinman wrote on November 11, 2015 at 11:11 am

So here's a question: do you (either/any who care to comment) think UIUC is drastically different from other universities in terms of faculty treatment?  Obviously Illinois is somewhat unique in terms of the direness of its funds, but every time I read it strikes me that UIUC is hardly unique in terms of faculty mistreatement and anger.

I grew up here and my father was a professor of General Engineering, I remember those days through a probably rosy filter, but people seemed mostly happy.

vcponsardin wrote on November 11, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I'm certain that similar strategies exist in other peer institutions across the country--the slow erosion of faculty support through low cost of living and merit adjustments.  This creates an unfortunate adversarial relationship between faculty and administration in which the only thing that will gain attention and achieve a modest pay raise is an offer from a peer institution.  This means that many faculty are constantly applying for other posts elsewhere as a way to leverage themselves higher salaries.  And administrations have become used to this caustic approach--only recognizing the value of their faculty when another school suddenly expresses interest.  It's a poor model for maintaining quality faculty and building morale.  Certainly, some element of "what the market will bear" is a factor in university faculty negotiations.  But making it the only way in which quality faculty can be recognized and gain merit raises is tiresome and destructive in the long run.

Lostinspace wrote on November 11, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Exactly right.  And that's not all that's wrong, of course.