“At this point I anticipate that it will be necessary to inform approximately 50 faculty of the elimination of their positions,” the interim provost, Kathleen Neumann, said during a meeting last week, when President Jack Thomas and other administrators delivered a budget address. 50 faculty is almost 8% of Western’s 650 professors (source).
Also heading to the chopping block: “Several administrative and staff positions are also expected to be eliminated or modified.” This is in line with a WIU FAQ published after a major budget address last week, which describes Administrative Services cuts:
Since the beginning of FY’16, 13 positions within the division have been eliminated.
Reductions in funds and leaving open positions vacant have been cost-saving measures for FY’16.
15 positions will be eliminated in FY’17.
There are also cuts falling on Advancement and Public Services, Quad Cities & Planning, and Student Services.
The Chronicle’ s account continues:
The employee reductions are just for starters. The university is also considering program cuts and possibly furloughs and wage cuts, [President Jack] Thomas told reporters after the budget talk. “But those are the kinds of things that have to be bargained before we actually really go into that,” he added.
This is in line with the WIU FAQ, which admits: “The University will eliminate or phase out in the upcoming months select academic programs based on program enrollment and program reviews.”
Leaders of the University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100, which represents WIU faculty, said they were not involved with the administration’s budget-cutting plan. Chapter President Bill Thompson called the elimination of jobs “a tragedy” and said the union will scrutinize the plan to ensure the administration is not violating UPI’s contract with WIU.
Why are such cuts on the table? To begin with, declining enrollment, of course. “In the last nine years, WIU has lost more than 1,800 students,” claims one local journalist. “[T]he University’s total enrollment has decreased in the past seven years, which affects the income brought in by tuition,” according to the WIU FAQ.
Also on that page is the inevitable second cause, declining revenue. Since WIU is public, its income dropped both due to the enrollment cut and state funding being sliced:
Western’s state appropriation has declined from $64.3 million in Fiscal Year 2002 to $51.4 million in Fiscal Year 2015. The nearly $13 million decrease has had a dramatic impact on our University. And in the sixth month of Fiscal Year 2016, we do not yet have a state appropriation.
Readers may remember my previous posts on Illinois back in February.
Western’s Trustees will discuss these problems and responses later this week. They may conclude, as some others have, that these cuts aren’t enough. “WIU administrators estimate their plan will save the school around $7.5 million. But that’s not enough: They’re still looking for an additional $4 million in savings. ”
PS: the Chronicle adds, “Western Illinois is not the only public institution in Illinois facing budget woes. Eastern Illinois University’s president found it necessary to issue a statement last month to counter fears that the university might not be able to remain open next semester.”
(thanks to Chris Francese)