Postcard campaign urges state to fund MAP grants

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While some students are getting ready to register for the upcoming semester, others are worrying about how they will continue to afford college without Illinois Monetary Award Program grants.

Among the students concerned about their college funds is sophomore music major Noel Price.

“It’s very important for me—as long as I’m attending college—that I do get money to be here and further my education,” Price said.

The state has yet to fund MAP grants for fiscal year 2017, as reported May 2 by The Chronicle. In response, the Fund Our Future coalition, a group made up of university professional and other higher education workers, launched the MAP Postcard Campaign Sept. 1. The campaign encourages Illinois residents to fill out two postcards to their state senators and representatives urging them to fund MAP grants.

Oscar Valdez, an academic scheduling coordinator in the Humanities, History & Social Sciences Department and membership chair for United Staff of Columbia College, said he brought the campaign to Columbia Oct. 24–31 after seeing how lack of state funding affects students.

In an FOF press release sent to The Chronicle by Everlidys Cabrera, assistant to the chair for the Music Department and US of CC member, the group noted more than 130,000 students rely on MAP grants. The number of grants awarded has been reduced substantially, with only 105,000 receiving awards for fiscal year 2016 compared with 128,000 in fiscal year 2015.

Starting Oct. 24, US of CC set up tables at the Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Ave.; the 624 S. Michigan Ave. Building; Alexandroff Campus Center, 600 S. Michigan Ave. and the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building, where people signed postcards.

A wrap-up event will be held Oct. 31 at 12 p.m. on the 10th floor of the 624 S. Michigan Ave. Building, Valdez said.

Working with City Colleges of Chicago and Roosevelt University, Valdez said they hope to get about 2,000 postcards signed.

Cabrera said the goal is getting postcards sent to legislators by Nov. 11.and the Illinois Education Association by Nov. 4. 

She added that even those not affected by lack of state funding should still get involved on behalf of those who are.

Fin Malone, a freshman music major who filled out a postcard, said he participated to support his fellow classmates.

“I know that there are certain people who probably would benefit from [MAP grants],” Malone said. “[They] rely on that program for paying [or] help paying for college.”

Cynthia Grunden, assistant vice president of Student Financial Services, said US of CC organizing this campaign shows their deep concern for students.

“We need students to participate in every opportunity they have to advocate for this [MAP grant] program,” Grunden said. “Students and their families are taxpayers in Illinois, and our legislature and our governor are accountable to taxpayers. This is affecting students in a terrible way.”

Price said that without state funding, she would not be able to attend Columbia.

“[It’s important] we put money into our kids [and] into people who really do want to take that extra step so they can be successful adults. I’m one of those people,” Price said. “It’s fair, not only to myself, but to the rest of the community that I can do that.”

Postcard campaign urges state to fund MAP grants

Postcard campaign urges state to fund MAP grants

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While some students are getting ready to register for the upcoming semester, others are worrying about how they will continue to afford college without Illinois Monetary Award Program grants.

Among the students concerned about their college funds is sophomore music major Noel Price.

“It’s very important for me—as long as I’m attending college—that I do get money to be here and further my education,” Price said.

The state has yet to fund MAP grants for fiscal year 2017, as reported May 2 by The Chronicle. In response, the Fund Our Future coalition, a group made up of university professional and other higher education workers, launched the MAP Postcard Campaign Sept. 1. The campaign encourages Illinois residents to fill out two postcards to their state senators and representatives urging them to fund MAP grants.

Oscar Valdez, an academic scheduling coordinator in the Humanities, History & Social Sciences Department and membership chair for United Staff of Columbia College, said he brought the campaign to Columbia Oct. 24–31 after seeing how lack of state funding affects students.

In an FOF press release sent to The Chronicle by Everlidys Cabrera, assistant to the chair for the Music Department and US of CC member, the group noted more than 130,000 students rely on MAP grants. The number of grants awarded has been reduced substantially, with only 105,000 receiving awards for fiscal year 2016 compared with 128,000 in fiscal year 2015.

Starting Oct. 24, US of CC set up tables at the Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Ave.; the 624 S. Michigan Ave. Building; Alexandroff Campus Center, 600 S. Michigan Ave. and the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building, where people signed postcards.

A wrap-up event will be held Oct. 31 at 12 p.m. on the 10th floor of the 624 S. Michigan Ave. Building, Valdez said.

Working with City Colleges of Chicago and Roosevelt University, Valdez said they hope to get about 2,000 postcards signed.

Cabrera said the goal is getting postcards sent to legislators by Nov. 11.and the Illinois Education Association by Nov. 4. 

She added that even those not affected by lack of state funding should still get involved on behalf of those who are.

Fin Malone, a freshman music major who filled out a postcard, said he participated to support his fellow classmates.

“I know that there are certain people who probably would benefit from [MAP grants],” Malone said. “[They] rely on that program for paying [or] help paying for college.”

Cynthia Grunden, assistant vice president of Student Financial Services, said US of CC organizing this campaign shows their deep concern for students.

“We need students to participate in every opportunity they have to advocate for this [MAP grant] program,” Grunden said. “Students and their families are taxpayers in Illinois, and our legislature and our governor are accountable to taxpayers. This is affecting students in a terrible way.”

Price said that without state funding, she would not be able to attend Columbia.

“[It’s important] we put money into our kids [and] into people who really do want to take that extra step so they can be successful adults. I’m one of those people,” Price said. “It’s fair, not only to myself, but to the rest of the community that I can do that.”

Postcard campaign urges state to fund MAP grants

ISU watching finances, not ‘pulling fire alarm’

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NORMAL — Illinois State University is keeping a close eye on finances while waiting to see what lawmakers and the governor do about a state budget.

During a budget review at Friday’s quarterly board meeting, chairman Rocky Donahue asked, “When do we as a board have to think about pulling the fire alarm?”

Greg Alt, vice president for finance and planning, said something needs to be done after Jan. 1, but “we’re not the first canary in the coal mine.”

Board member J.D. Bergman, who also serves on the Illinois Board of Higher Education, said about seven universities would be “out of business” before ISU has “real serious problems,” unless those universities get state appropriations and ISU doesn’t.

A major factor that helped ISU was a strong incoming freshman class that helped boost enrollment to a 27-year high while enrollments dropped — in some cases significantly — at most state universities.

The increased tuition revenue helped fill the gap left by the lack of state money.

The legislature passed two stopgap spending measures this year. One in April gave ISU $20.9 million, about 29 percent of what it received for fiscal year 2015. The measure in June gave ISU $38.3 million, about 53 percent of what it received for FY 2015.

The money approved in June could be used for FY 2016 expenses, but it is considered FY 2017 revenue.

“We’re grateful for what the legislature did with the stopgap … but it’s really vastly short,” said Donahue.

Alt said reduced spending and $31 million in reserve funds were used to close the revenue gap in the last fiscal year. The university still has about $32 million in unrestricted reserves, according to Alt.

Earlier in the meeting, President Larry Dietz read a portion of a letter from university presidents to the governor and legislature that “strongly recommends” full funding retroactive to FY 2016 and for FY 2017. The letter said such funding is essential to maintain quality and keep universities accessible and affordable for students and families.

Dietz used the oft-repeated phrase “strong and stable” to describe ISU’s condition, noting that solid enrollment, low debt and watchful spending “continue to see us through.”

Alt said the university will hold back on spending through such actions as not automatically filling positions that become vacant.

“If we have to take more serious action, we’ll know more in the spring,” said Alt.

The board approved a request for $79.5 million in state appropriations for FY 2018, which would be a $7.3 million increase over what was appropriated to ISU in FY 2015 — the last full-year appropriation.

But Donahue said, “I would caution anybody against getting their hopes up” for an appropriation of that amount.

An FY 2018 capital request of $289.5 million also was approved, but ISU has listed the same priorities for several years and there is no state capital projects program on the horizon.

An interior painting project for Watterson Towers and repairs to the North University Street parking garage, costing $660,000 and $675,000, respectively, were approved by the board.

Money for those projects comes from restricted funds and cannot be used for other purposes.

The painting project in Watterson’s north tower will complete a seven-year cycle of painting one residence hall each year, Alt explained.

ISU watching finances, not ‘pulling fire alarm’

ISU watching finances, not ‘pulling fire alarm’

http://ift.tt/2dY7iPK

NORMAL — Illinois State University is keeping a close eye on finances while waiting to see what lawmakers and the governor do about a state budget.

During a budget review at Friday’s quarterly board meeting, chairman Rocky Donahue asked, “When do we as a board have to think about pulling the fire alarm?”

Greg Alt, vice president for finance and planning, said something needs to be done after Jan. 1, but “we’re not the first canary in the coal mine.”

Board member J.D. Bergman, who also serves on the Illinois Board of Higher Education, said about seven universities would be “out of business” before ISU has “real serious problems,” unless those universities get state appropriations and ISU doesn’t.

A major factor that helped ISU was a strong incoming freshman class that helped boost enrollment to a 27-year high while enrollments dropped — in some cases significantly — at most state universities.

The increased tuition revenue helped fill the gap left by the lack of state money.

The legislature passed two stopgap spending measures this year. One in April gave ISU $20.9 million, about 29 percent of what it received for fiscal year 2015. The measure in June gave ISU $38.3 million, about 53 percent of what it received for FY 2015.

The money approved in June could be used for FY 2016 expenses, but it is considered FY 2017 revenue.

“We’re grateful for what the legislature did with the stopgap … but it’s really vastly short,” said Donahue.

Alt said reduced spending and $31 million in reserve funds were used to close the revenue gap in the last fiscal year. The university still has about $32 million in unrestricted reserves, according to Alt.

Earlier in the meeting, President Larry Dietz read a portion of a letter from university presidents to the governor and legislature that “strongly recommends” full funding retroactive to FY 2016 and for FY 2017. The letter said such funding is essential to maintain quality and keep universities accessible and affordable for students and families.

Dietz used the oft-repeated phrase “strong and stable” to describe ISU’s condition, noting that solid enrollment, low debt and watchful spending “continue to see us through.”

Alt said the university will hold back on spending through such actions as not automatically filling positions that become vacant.

“If we have to take more serious action, we’ll know more in the spring,” said Alt.

The board approved a request for $79.5 million in state appropriations for FY 2018, which would be a $7.3 million increase over what was appropriated to ISU in FY 2015 — the last full-year appropriation.

But Donahue said, “I would caution anybody against getting their hopes up” for an appropriation of that amount.

An FY 2018 capital request of $289.5 million also was approved, but ISU has listed the same priorities for several years and there is no state capital projects program on the horizon.

An interior painting project for Watterson Towers and repairs to the North University Street parking garage, costing $660,000 and $675,000, respectively, were approved by the board.

Money for those projects comes from restricted funds and cannot be used for other purposes.

The painting project in Watterson’s north tower will complete a seven-year cycle of painting one residence hall each year, Alt explained.

ISU watching finances, not ‘pulling fire alarm’

ISU Board of Trustees approves budget request, cyber security program

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The Illinois State University Board of Trustees discussed an appropriated budget request and approval to a cybersecurity program during Friday’s meeting in the Prairie Room of the Bone Student Center.

The eight-member board, with the addition of ISU President Larry Dietz, began with a discussion featuring a police conversation and members of the Student Government Association, President Kyle Walsh and President of Assembly Daniel Heylin.

The two discussed the association’s past, present and future initiatives.

“I truly believe that we have one of the strongest student government associations in the country,” Walsh said.

After the discussion, the Board of Trustees began its meeting. Dietz remarked on the success of this year’s Homecoming Week, student enrollment numbers, donations received and scholarships awarded.

He also touched base on budgetary matters. On April 22, ISU received over $20 million in stopgap funding and an additional $38 million on June 30.

“I know that we all look forward to getting the November election behind us, and dare I say, we really look forward to getting the November election behind us,” Dietz said. “We anticipate talks with the [Illinois] General Assembly regarding budgetary and other matters. I know that many of us don’t expect on Nov. 9 the heavens are going to open and cash is going to pour out on us, but nevertheless, we will start these talks again.”

“Many of our sister institutions in Illinois are acutely feeling the impact of the budget crisis, but I can report that Illinois State remains strong and stable,” he added.”

The board’s list of resolutions covered a wide range of matters. Members approved a fiscal year 2018 appropriated operating budget request of $79.5 million and a capital appropriation request of $292.6 million. The requests will be formally submitted to the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

The capital appropriation request includes five major capital projects, which are the Milner Library rehabilitation project, the Mennonite College of Nursing building, rehabilitation and construction of the College of Education buildings, the construction of a larger facility for University High School and the Williams Hall renovation. The two capital renewal projects total about $3.1 million and include window and door replacements at Metcalf Elementary School, Fairchild Hall and Rachel Cooper Hall and replacing emergency generators.

The Board of Trustees also approved the creation of an undergraduate degree in cyber security. It will be administered through the School of Information Technology.

Dietz said the program would address a growing need in the field.

“This programmatic request is in response to the increasing national demand for information security specialists. In fact, several local companies have been asking for this type of program,” Dietz said. “A [bachelor of science] in cyber security will help students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for protecting information and information systems.”

The 80-credit hour degree is an extension of the existing information assurance and security sequence within the School of Information Technology. Enrollment in the major is expected to total 125 students once it is finalized and fully implemented.

Other approved resolutions include repainting dorm rooms in Watterson’s south tower, repairs to the North University Street parking garage, purchasing Apple computer products for resale and renaming the former Educational Administration Building as the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. The building, located at North Street and Fell Avenue, will be the university’s center dedicated to civic engagement and service learning initiatives.

Board members also highlighted an all-trustee training session that took place Thursday in Chicago, sponsored by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

“It did provide us with some insightful information and gave us the chance to interact with our colleagues at other universities,” chairperson Rocky Donahue said.

Board member Jay Bergman was able to initiate a new trustee meeting schedule for the future during the trip.

“I was involved in overseeing some of the discussions and one thing I mentioned yesterday was the community college boards, which have the Community College Trustees Association, they meet with themselves periodically…and they share information about the different community colleges. The public universities’ trustees are in a vacuum,” Bergman said.

“The meeting that we had yesterday was the first one we had in seven or eight years. My role on the [Illinois] Board of Higher Education, I asked for a show of hands of how many people would like to have at least an annual all-trustees meeting and virtually everybody raised their hand. We will be having all public university trustee meetings moving forward,” he added.

ISU Board of Trustees approves budget request, cyber security program