SPRINGFIELD – The University of Illinois is asking for a $79 million increase, or 7.3 percent, in state operating money for the next fiscal year to hire more teachers, reduce class sizes, increase the number of courses offered and give raises to faculty and staff.
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved a budget request for fiscal 2005 at its meeting Thursday in Springfield.
The operating budget request includes:
– $32 million for raises that will average 4 percent.
– $12.5 million for academic programs, including hiring additional faculty.
– $16 million for price increases, including utilities, library costs, payroll costs and maintenance for new buildings.
– $18 million for recruiting and retaining faculty in critical areas and for building renovations.
"These are reasonable requests to make," said Chester Gardner, vice president for academic affairs. "They are the kind of investments we should be making in this university."
Gardner said salary competitiveness is a high priority for the UI. Faculty went without raises for two years, and they are getting a modest raise this year, an average of 2.5 percent.
Meanwhile, faculty at other Big Ten universities got raises last year in the range of 3 to 5 percent, and they are getting raises this year of 2 to 4 percent. The disparity between the UI and other universities dropped the UI by two spots in comparative salary levels.
On the capital side, the UI is emphasizing building renovations.
Its fiscal 2005 priority list for capital projects has 10 projects that total $346.8 million. The top two priorities are $10.7 million for building repair and renovation on all three campuses, and $20 million to address the backlog of deferred maintenance projects.
The third priority is $51.5 million for remodeling Lincoln Hall, which is almost 100 years old and has not had major remodeling in about 40 years.
Also on the priority list are requests for $83.4 million for an electrical and computer engineering building and $27 million for a College of Business building.
Private donations are expected to pay for about half of the costs of each project, and the UI is requesting state money for the other half of the costs.
Chancellor Nancy Cantor said the cost of the electrical and computer engineering building will likely decrease as the UI reviews the needs for the building and obtains commitments for donations. She said the request from the state will likely end up being about $50 million.
The board also reviewed the current $3.27 billion operating budget and gave its final approval to it.
The state cut the UI's budget for this year by $59.3 million, but the UI received more money from tuition because of higher enrollment and a tuition increase. And research money is up by 15 percent, or almost $85 million.
President James Stukel praised faculty for winning more research grants and contracts at the same time they have a heavier teaching load.
"I think it's extraordinary in terms of productivity," Stukel said. "I want to make sure everyone knows what a wonderful job they're doing, with no salary increase (last year)."
But he and other administrators said the UI has still been affected by state budget cuts. Research money must be used for specific projects rather than in the classroom. As state revenue has decreased, a smaller percentage of the budget has been spent on teaching students in the last several years.
Administrators expect state spending to be tight again next year.
In other business:
Coach's contract extended. The board approved a four-year extension to the contract of head women's basketball coach Theresa Grentz. With the extension, her contract now runs through April 15, 2008. A contract with Grentz Corp. for educational, public relations, consulting and promotional activities was extended to 2008 as well.
The board also increased her base salary from $152,860 to $160,000 for 2003-04. With the increase, her total salary is now $260,000.
Board to review conflicts. The board voted to have the full board review and approve licenses and/or conflict of interest management plans involving companies or transactions in which the president or his family has an interest. Currently the president approves the awarding of contracts in which a UI officer or employee or a member of his or her family has an interest.
Stukel's son, Paul Stukel, is the top candidate to head PRZM Technologies, a company that hopes to commercialize a construction management software package created by UI employees. Illinois Ventures, which helps start-up companies commercializing UI technology, is considering investing in PRZM.
Contract amended. The board approved amending a $1.5 million contract with TEK Systems to $2.75 million. TEK Systems is providing services for the UI Integrate project, an overhaul of the UI's computer systems for business, administration and student records.
About half the increase is due to additional work on the UI Integrate project, and the other half is for other necessary programming that is related to UI Integrate but not within the scope of the project. The money will come from a contingency fund set up for the project.
Richard Mendola, executive director of the UI Integrate project, said the UI estimated the amount of programming work it would need to contract out and expected the estimated amount might change. He said it is using contractors more now as the project gets closer to the end and some UI Integrate employees are leaving for other jobs.
Steve Rugg, vice president for administration, said the UI wants to continue to use contractors familiar with the project. He said the overall budget for the project has not changed, nor has the pay rate for TEK Systems.
Office lease rate questioned. Several trustees questioned the lease rate for office space in the Chicago area. After numerous questions about the details of the lease and a discussion about the process for approving building projects, board Chairman Larry Eppley directed the board's Building and Grounds Committee to work with Rugg to look more closely at questions of costs on construction projects and major purchases.
"The board members want to assure themselves, particularly in this time of budget constraints, we've looked at all the options," Rugg said. "We spent a fair amount of time at the board table answering those questions. They want to make sure they are answered at the right time."
You can reach Jodi Heckel at (217) 351-5216 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.