EIU: Funding needed to avoid layoffs

EIU: Funding needed to avoid layoffs

SPRINGFIELD — Without another influx of state funds, Eastern Illinois President David Glassman told state legislators Wednesday, the university may have to make another round of employee layoffs later this summer.

In a stopgap budget agreement last month, lawmakers gave the state's higher education system some $600 million, about $12.5 million of which went to Eastern. In Eastern's case, that is 30 percent of a normal year's appropriation.

But Glassman and other university officials told the House Higher Education Committee on Wednesday that more money is needed.

EIU's $12.5 million will be gone before the fall semester begins, Glassman said.

"In fact, the stopgap funding in real dollars is so low for EIU that it will likely necessitate additional layoffs beginning in late summer. This is the only way we can achieve the cost reductions necessary to make up for the absent appropriations," he said. "Insufficient funds equal more layoffs."

He said EIU "has gone so far beyond efficiencies" in its cuts "that we're cutting people that we need in the financial aid office, the student affairs offices, the student support offices, our advisers. It is a very, very deleterious staffing situation we have right now."

Glassman did not disclose how many more employees might be laid off this summer; he said that since he began at the Charleston-based school last June 1, he had eliminated 363 positions, or about 22.6 percent of all employees.

"It is absolutely possible that we will have to do further cuts at the latter part of the summer before the students come in in order to make essentially that last cash-flow payroll, and then we'll start getting money back in" from tuition and fees, he told lawmakers.

The uncertainty over state funding for higher education is damaging EIU and other public universities, he asserted.

He said the number of incoming freshmen willing to pay the required $150 deposit to enroll at EIU next fall is down by about 25 percent.

"Even though our applications were right on target, our admits were right on target, but the deposits — and that's what we use to predict enrollments — are down in the neighborhood of about 25 percent," he said. "We are told by parents that they are still making decisions up to this time and they're going to make them through May. They have been nervous as can be. I have letter after letter saying, 'We loved EIU. We had a great visit day. You are our first choice institution but we can't be confident that you're going to be here for four years for our student.'

"And therefore, they will say we're now selecting Indiana State, we're now selecting (Southeast Missouri State), we're now selecting Missouri. They are afraid to commit to the school which is their first choice, and they're apologizing to me, which I think is very telling and very interesting. They want to come. They're not willing to commit."

Illinois' public universities, their students and their families need some sign of assurance from state government that there will be a future, Glassman said.

"We in Illinois — whether it's Eastern, Western, Northeastern, Southern — we're all facing the same situation, and we need to assure these kids: Come to Illinois universities. Because now they're saying, 'Well, you might be here in the fall because everybody says they'll be open in the fall. But are you going to be open next year? Are we going to have an impasse? Is this going to happen every year? And we keep hearing that you might have to eliminate some programs if you don't get full funding. Is it going to be my program?'"

Many segments of EIU's enrollment are looking good, Glassman said.

"Our transfers are pretty good. Our international students are up. Our graduate students are up," he said. "It is that full-time freshman class, where they are making that four-year commitment, that is so challenging right now to the regional universities."

Glassman is also concerned about current EIU students and faculty leaving.

"Many students are nervous about when and whether the state budgetary impasse will be completely resolved and how it will affect their ongoing education. These students do not need the added stress of wondering whether their program will still be operating by their senior year," he said. "To make matters worse, we are losing our best and brightest faculty at an increasingly alarming rate. And we aren't left to wonder what their reason for leaving is. They tell us up front: too much uncertainty, not enough trust."

Meanwhile, Thomas Calhoun, president of Chicago State University — which got 60 percent of its annual appropriation in last month's budget deal — said that his school also needs more money.

"Last week, we had to lay off one-third of our workforce," Calhoun said. "It was an act of desperation, quite frankly, so that we could continue to make payroll and keep the doors of the university open."

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BruckJr wrote on May 04, 2016 at 9:05 pm

Here's an idea Dr. Glassman, cut some useless majors like Africana Studies, Art, Art (BFA), Art Education, Art-Community Arts, Art History, Asian Studies, Creative Writing, Film Studies, French, General Studies, German, Jazz Studies, Journalism, Literary and Cultural Studies, Music, Textile Design, Psychology, Recreation, Sociology, Sports Media, Theatre Arts, Women's Studies and Undeclared.

casemaker wrote on May 05, 2016 at 8:05 am

Well......this is just the tip of the ice burg...to put the state on a correct path to responsible spending...the state lawmakers for years has tried to give everyone everything they have wanted regardless of how much money the state really had....this is just the first slice of a major surgery...


Illinois has the highest property tax rate in the country...if they the pass doubling the state tax gas tax to .60 per gallon....Illinois will have the highest gas tax in the country...

Maybe this state can not afford all of these colleges....


stingray1970 wrote on May 05, 2016 at 9:05 am
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This state cannot afford all of these elected officials.  Why are they not losing their jobs?  They created this mess.

vietto wrote on May 05, 2016 at 10:05 am

Regional colleges are an important investment in the state. When our students go to Indiana or Missouri instead of Illinois, they are much less likely to come back here to live. Can the state afford to have a massive population decline? By the way, those kids who don't go to college at all because they can't afford to go out of state, they'll be the ones most likely to stay. So we'll have fewer people, less of them educated for the kinds of jobs that make for middle-class taxpayers. What will we be able to afford then?

casemaker wrote on May 10, 2016 at 9:05 am

Regardless of how important colleges are to the state or any other state funded entities....the most important rule to remember is you can not spend more money than you have....doesnt matter what it is...you cannot afford what you cannot pay for.

Don Mega wrote on May 05, 2016 at 9:05 am

Maybe this State can't afford Bruce Rauner.

casemaker wrote on May 10, 2016 at 9:05 am

Rauner did not create this mess....he is just trying to stop the 30 year bleed the democrates have ignored for all of these years...