SIU to lay off at least 51 employees

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SIU to lay off at least 51 employees

Posted:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 2:53 PM EDT
Updated:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 2:54 PM EDT

WSIL — Southern Illinois University in Carbondale is laying off at least 51 civil service employees.

The layoffs are a direct result of the Illinois budget impasse, which is nearing two years.

The layoff notice was announced Wednesday morning in a memo by Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell.

In March, Colwell said the university would need to permanently cut $19 million from its FY18 budget, which starts on July 1st.

“We built much of our permanent reduction on vacant positions in order to avoid layoffs, but unfortunately, layoffs and the non-renewal of some contracts are unavoidable,” said Colwell. “Decisions affecting members of our community are deeply painful to all of us. We will do all we can to assist those employees who are affected.”

About 100 employees will receive notices informing them they may be laid off because of the bumping process.

“Those who will be affected will be notified later today,” said Colwell.
 

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May 31, 2017 at 06:58AM

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SIU to lay off at least 51 employees

OEIG report: NIU mismanaged by President Baker

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DeKALB – A 56-page report from a nearly three-year investigation by the Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General says President Doug Baker mismanaged Northern Illinois University by hiring five people as though they were part-time instructors and paying them more than $1 million combined.

The investigation, which began in 2014, found that the university improperly classfied multiple high-paying consulting positions as affiliate employees to purposely bypass state procurement requirements.

The report identified five employees: Ron Walters, who was paid $463,125; Nancy Suttenfield, who was paid $425,041; Ken Wilson, who was paid $135,963; Magaly Rodriguez, who was paid $85,031; and William Pfeiffer, who was paid $23,516.

NIU’s written policies and procedures describe affiliate employees as individuals “who teach an off-campus extension class (typically for non-credit for the university on an occasional basis” and whose appointments are “always made on a part-time, 10 percent basis.” None of the five employees taught classes at NIU and all worked far more than a few hours a week.

Although Baker agreed with the report’s findings that there were no violations of the state’s Ethics Act, he disagreed with any implications that there was intent to circumvent NIU’s guidelines or state regulations.

“Still, I take responsibility for the mistakes identified and I have worked diligently since these issues were brought forward in 2014 to do everything in my power to keep them from happening again,” Baker said in a statement.

NIU’s Board of Trustees, too, issued a statement saying the proper actions have been taken.

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May 31, 2017 at 04:51AM

OEIG report: NIU mismanaged by President Baker

Northeastern Illinois University to cut about 180 jobs as state budget woes drag on

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The struggling Northeastern Illinois University will eliminate about 180 full-time jobs in coming weeks, the latest fallout from of a nearly two-year state budget impasse that has drastically reduced funding for state public universities, officials announced Tuesday.

About 130 civil service employees and 50 administrative professionals will receive layoff notices from the Chicago school within the next six to seven weeks, interim President Richard Helldobler said, cutting about one-fourth of the staffing in both categories.

Helldobler said the move is expected to save about $9 million through September, helping to reduce a $10.8 million shortfall.

The layoffs are the most draconian cut yet for the Northwest Side university, which has had to implement two campus shutdowns, expand furloughs and cut student jobs this year to try to continue operations through June, the end of the fiscal year.

NEIU serves about 10,000 students, many of them low-income and first-generation college students.

“We’ve been pushed to our limits,” Helldobler said at a news conference. “It has been devastating, and sadly today the devastation increases.”

Throughout the nearly two-year budget battle, Illinois’ public universities have received state funding only through two stop-gap bills endorsed last summer.

Together, those emergency measures provided universities around 80 percent of a typical year’s funding, but schools have had to try to stretch those dollars over 23 months.

Northeastern, for example, received about $30.2 million in state money for the past two years, compared with the $37 million it received in 2015, the most recent year for regular funding.

“If I had to give a grade to Springfield for the handling of our state’s budget, they’d get an ‘F,'” Helldobler said. “Northeastern is counting on lawmakers to do the right thing for our students, our state and our economy by passing a budget that includes adequate funding for higher education before it’s too late.”

State dollars typically make up about one-fourth of Northeastern’s income, so the absence of those dollars has taken its toll.

The campus was closed during spring break in March as nearly all employees were required to take five unpaid days off and university services were halted. Nearly 1,100 workers, including top administrators, were affected by that round of furloughs.

About 300 student workers were initially going to lose their state-funded campus jobs, owing to a new rule aimed to protect permanent employees from furloughs. The university later reversed that decision and essentially furloughed those workers during spring break before reinstating them.

Northeastern closed its campus again for three days in April and May and instituted the same furloughs for its workers.

Recognizing the escalating financial pressure, credit agencies downgraded the ratings for several state schools in April and warned of more such action. Both Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s bumped down Northeastern’s rating, citing the lack of critical state funding to support operations.

Illinois has been without a state budget since July 2015, as Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislators have been unable to broker a compromise.

Among the sticking points, Rauner has insisted on a property tax freeze while Democrats contend such a move would hurt local school districts that rely heavily on those levies for their funding.

Recent maneuvering has failed to gain much traction in the waning days of the session. Senate Democrats passed a budget plan last week, but their counterparts in the House have been slow to get behind it. House Democrats approved bills on immigrant protections and penalties for repeat gun offenders over the holiday weekend but have yet to act on an annual budget.

Assembly members are scheduled to go home for the summer after Wednesday. A new budget year begins July 1.

drhodes@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @rhodes_dawn

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May 30, 2017 at 07:12AM

Northeastern Illinois University to cut about 180 jobs as state budget woes drag on

NEIU to cut 180 jobs

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* Forwarded by two different readers…

TO: Faculty and Staff

FROM: Richard J. Helldobler, Interim President

DATE: May 30, 2017

RE: Northeastern to cut 180 positions; Town Hall at 3 p.m. today

I writing to inform Northeastern’s faculty and staff that the University will begin the implementation of layoffs as a result of a two-year state budget impasse that has deprived us of both an FY16 and FY17 appropriation.

The University has a $10.8 million projected cash flow shortfall through September 30. To address this and the lack of a state appropriation, Northeastern will be eliminating at least 50 Administrative and Professional (A&P) positions and approximately 130 Civil Service positions, which account for about 25 percent of each of these employee groups. In total, that is about 180 positions. Layoff notification and the Civil Service bumping process begin immediately and will take place during the next several weeks.

This is difficult news to share and also difficult to communicate completely through one email. You can get more information in an FAQ document that our Office of Human Resources has posted in the new “Furloughs and Layoffs” channel of NEIUport.

I invite all employees to join me at a Town Hall meeting that I will host in Alumni Hall today at 3 p.m. This event will not be livestreamed. During the meeting, there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Emphasis added.

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May 30, 2017 at 05:21AM

NEIU to cut 180 jobs

Illinois House approves new college grant program

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The Illinois House Monday approved a bill creating a new grant program for college students who maintain at least a “B” average in their studies, but that Republicans said the state cannot afford.

The House voted 65-50 to approve House Bill 1316. It must still be approved by the Senate.

Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said the bill is intended to encourage students to attend college in Illinois. During the state’s budget stalemate, enrollment at many state universities has dropped as students opt to attend college elsewhere. Once they leave the state, Lang said, the students tend not to return.

“Part of the reason for this bill is to keep our best and brightest here,” Lang said. “We have this brain drain where we’re losing our students. We have thousands of students leaving Illinois because they can’t afford to go to college here. For the sake of our students and the economy, we need to keep them here.”

The bill would provide full-time students at public universities or community colleges a yearly grant of up to $4,000. To qualify, students would need at least a “B” average and must come from families who earn less than $125,000 a year.

Students who receive the grants would have to remain in Illinois for two years after they complete their schooling.

The bill also requires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to set up a program to buy out the private student loans of eligible participants.

The bill is subject to money appropriated to it by the General Assembly. Lang estimated the cost at $300 million to $400 million. It would not begin until the 2018-19 school year.

Republicans said the bill may be well-intentioned, but the state cannot afford it.

“I think I’m in the land of Oz. Everything is free,” said Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley. “When you look at our fiscal condition, I doubt we’re ever going to fulfill the image we’re creating and the hope we’re creating for students. Students need all of the things you’re talking about in this bill, but I don’t see how we’re ever going to afford it.”

Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, said both ISAC and the state Board of Higher Education, which would have roles in administering the bill, are opposed to it.

“If you want to help higher education, then you get a balanced budget that funds higher education,” she said. “We have at least 26 grants programs in the state of Illinois to help students in higher education that we are not funding currently. We need to fund those programs and not bring in new ones.”

Other Republicans complained the bill has no enforcement mechanisms to recover money from students who fail to fulfill their obligations after obtaining grants.

Democrats, though, said the bill will provide another mechanism to help students with college costs.

“Universities are supposed to be accessible to everybody,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago.

— Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, http://twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.

This is the vote on House Bill 1316 http://ift.tt/2qAhHaS

 

 

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May 29, 2017 at 11:39AM

Illinois House approves new college grant program

Fewer grads from public medical schools staying in Illinois

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CHICAGO (AP) — The number of medical school graduates who stay in Illinois after graduating from the from the state’s public universities is dropping.

Crain’s Chicago Business (http://bit.ly/2qoCP4i) reports school officials are offering different takes on why, though some point to the state’s two-year budget impasse.

The state has two public university medical schools: Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine and the University of Illinois College of Medicine. The number of medical graduates from those schools who will remain in Illinois for their residencies has hit a combined all-time low. Private medical schools in the area, which don’t rely on state funding, aren’t seeing the same declines.

Among the students who decided to leave was Matt Soltys, 27, who was raised near Springfield. He earned molecular biology and kinesiology degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and then went to medical school at SIU. But he’ll head the University of Iowa next month to start his internal medicine residency.

“It’s fully hitting me that I’m leaving, and I’m really sad,” he said. “The thought that the budget impasse might affect my medical education and my patients is incredibly frustrating. I wanted to go to an institution that didn’t have those constraints.”

Soltys has a rare vantage point. His father ran the psychiatry department of SIU’s medical school until last year. When he began working there in 2002, the department had six state-funded faculty positions. It now has none. He also has watched two hospitals in Springfield cut funding for internal resident positions.

Jerry Kruse, dean of SIU’s School of Medicine, said the percentage of graduates from his school who complete residencies in Illinois has fallen to 21 percent this year, the lowest in school history. The share has decreased 9 percentage points each year since 2014.

For decades before that, the percentage of the school’s roughly 70 graduates each year who stayed hovered between 40 and 45 percent.

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“Nothing has changed much over this period except the budget impasse and the atmosphere it’s created,” Kruse said. “Young doctors read about it in the papers every day and suddenly there’s a fair amount of uncertainty about the future.”

At the University of Illinois’ College of Medicine, 28 percent of this year’s graduates are staying in the state for residencies, which is down from nearly 37 percent last year. But the school’s dean, Dimitri Azar, notes that the percentage of graduates who remained in Illinois for their residencies was 33 percent in 2015, 41 percent in 2014 and nearly 34 percent in 2013.

Azar said students choose their destinations mostly based on a program’s quality, not the state’s finances.

Information from: CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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May 29, 2017 at 03:00AM

Fewer grads from public medical schools staying in Illinois

EIU Waives Application Fee

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An Illinois university is taking aggressive measures to recruit new high school students to its campus

.

 

Eastern Illinois University announced Thursday that it will open its application process next week for the fall 2018 semester and waive its $30 application fee for incoming freshman and transfer students until Oct. 2.

 

Josh Norman is the university’s associate vice president for enrollment management. He says research indicates the most successful schools are those that act early in the application process. He says public universities in Indiana that implemented the early application process last year saw success.

 

Eastern Illinois University has seen a slide in enrollment over the last nine years, during which its total number of students has dropped from more than 12,000 in 2007 to more than 7,000 in 2016.

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May 29, 2017 at 01:43AM

EIU Waives Application Fee