http://ift.tt/2dN2uRh Lainie SteelmanReporter/Lifestyle Editor
MACOMB — Western Illinois University trustees unanimously approved a $237.4 million all-funds budget for the current 2017 fiscal year during a meeting Friday on the Macomb campus.
The all-funds budget assumes the university will eventually receive a state appropriation of $51.4 million level with what was received in FY15.
According to interim Vice President of Administrative Services Matt Bierman, who also serves as budget director, Western has received $15.6 million out of $31.4 million allocated to the university from a six-month stopgap measure. In addition, Western was reimbursed $5.1 million in Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant funds from the spring 2016 semester.
State legislators and Governor Bruce Rauner approved the stopgap on June 30 to tide public universities over while legislators continue to grapple with the state budget. The Illinois General Assembly isn’t likely to make a move on the budget until after the Nov. 8 general election. Bierman told the Voice the university is working on back-up plans in case there’s a repeat of the 2016 fiscal year. It’s too early in the process to discuss the details, he added.
“We will figure it out as we go,” Bierman said of the university’s plans. “We’re working on those plans, and we have some of them ready to place. It’ll be more of what we did last year as well as some other things to consider.”
The cost-saving measures initiated by the university during the FY16 fiscal year included layoffs and mandatory furlough programs for non-union employees.
The university received a $21 million stopgap in May, and about $5 million of that reimbursed Western for the MAP grants fronted to students for the fall FY16 semester.
The $31.4 million stopgap approved in June was intended for FY16 expenses not yet paid as well as for the fiscal year that started July 1.
All the university can do at this point, Bierman said Friday, is wait for the General Assembly to make a move, and to continue to advocate for Western’s needs.
“We were at the (Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce) Legislative Luncheon yesterday with (state Rep. Norine) Hammond and Senator (John) Sullivan, and both of them said, ‘There’s a chance that they might do something in veto or lame duck (session), and there’s a chance they may not,’” Bierman said.
“So we’ll just have to wait and see. And we’re going to try to continue to advocate, in fact we’re trying to get some meetings in Springfield before the election to talk to some people, and then after the election as well.”
Western trustees on Friday also unanimously approved the creation of a new academic department, the Department of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The request will be sent to the Illinois Board of Higher Education for the final stamp of approval.
According to interim Provost and Academic Vice President Kathy Neumann, the request for the new department will be placed for action on the next available meeting agenda. If approved later this fall, the new department could be up and running for the spring semester.
The programs to be housed in the new department include Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Minor in African American Studies, Minor in Women’s Studies, and Minor in Religious Studies programs.
The major programs in African-American Studies, Religious Studies and Women’s Studies have been eliminated by the university, and faculty within those programs would be assigned to the new department.
The Department of Liberal Arts and Sciences, if approved by the IBHE, would be part of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.
In other action on Friday, trustees also approved a $9.9 million increase to the appropriated operating budget and a $288.7 million capital budget for the 2018 fiscal year starting July 1, 2017.
The capital budget request would fund new construction on the Macomb and Moline campuses.
The budget requests are part of the university’s required annual budgeting process with the state, and the requests will be presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the General Assembly and Governor Rauner for consideration.
Reach Lainie Steelman via email at lsteelman@McDonoughVoice.com, or follow her on Twitter@LainieSteelman.