I haven’t been writing much about queen sacrifices or other problems in higher education financing for a while, mostly for time reasons. Let me get back on track, and start with one Illinois campus.
Last spring I wrote about problems Chicago State University was having. They laid off one third of their staff, sent pre-emptive layoff notices to all staff, and took steps to be able to lay off faculty.
So how are they doing this fall? Not so good.
Enrollments were declining; now they’re plummeting.
[O]verall enrollment [is] down 25 percent over the past year and just 86 freshmen entering this fall.
The 86 freshmen enrolled counts full-time and part-time students. Chicago State has 3,578 students taking classes this fall, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday. That’s down from 7,362 in 2010.
Finances are… murky. Inside Higher Ed says that “the university has not produced an up-to-date budget book since 2015” (!). This summer CSU paid more than $2 million in severance for its mass staff layoffs, which is a major cost for the institution to bear right now. Are there cash reserves? How sound is the campus?
On top of this CSU’s board fired its president, awarding Calhoun a big golden parachute of $600,000, “double his annual salary [to get him] to leave immediately.” Some faculty and students protested the termination:
One local newspaper deems the payout hush money.
A sample of faculty attitudes towards the current crisis:
“It’s sort of like we’ve been shot and we’re lying on the sidewalk and nobody’s calling an ambulance,” said Robert Bionaz, an associate professor of history and president of the Chicago State chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100.
And: “That erratic, weaving vehicle you see in front of you is the #CSUclowncar. Until it gets pulled over, the university will never have a chance.”
And also: “Chicago State University faculty members want Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to replace the entire board of trustees, something the governor says his team is investigating.”
What lies ahead? We can imagine a queen sacrifice, especially with crashingly low amounts of students. Perhaps CSU will offer new programs to win more students. Or the state will force in a new board, which could take other steps.