Budget resolution tops UI trustees’ agenda


URBANA — With no state budget in hand, the University of Illinois is again seeking a continuing budget resolution to keep operating past the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

UI trustees this week will be asked to approve the continuing resolution, as they have done in previous years when the state Legislature had not yet approved a UI appropriation for the next year before the May board meeting. State law requires governing boards to approve an operating budget before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

Final approval of a detailed budget usually follows at the September board meeting, but “there hasn’t been any ‘usual’ for the last few years,” said UI spokesman Tom Hardy.

The resolution would authorize the university to spend money at fiscal 2015 levels, the last year it received a full appropriation from the state.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, has criticized the university for not releasing a detailed budget book outlining its spending for the past two years, when it received partial state funding.

It’s hard to develop an operating budget without full state funding, Hardy said. He said the UI has tried to be transparent through public financial reports at every trustees’ meeting and testimony before legislative and audit commission hearings. The university is also distributing its “stopgap” funding from the state using the same ratios in the fiscal 2015 budget, he said.

Thursday’s business meeting at the Springfield campus will be the third that the board will convene without a full complement of nine trustees (plus one voting student member).

Gov. Bruce Rauner has yet to appoint trustees to fill two of the three terms that expired in January, for Democrats Ricardo Estrada and Patricia Brown-Holmes and Republican Karen Hasara. The governor’s staff did not respond to messages Tuesday about the pending appointments.

Rauner did appoint UI alumnus Don Edwards, a private equity investor and former UI golfer, shortly after the March board meeting. Edwards, a Democrat, attended a meeting of the board’s Audit, Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee last week and peppered administrators with questions about various building projects and contracts.

Hardy said he didn’t know of any trustee business that’s been held up by the vacancies, but said it’s sometimes been difficult to meet a quorum. It’s also been a challenge to schedule trustees for commencements and convocations, where they typically deliver remarks, he said.

The board will consider a resolution of appreciation for Hasara, former Springfield mayor, praising her for her public service, “fairness and pragmatism,” and advocacy for students.

Trustees will also deal with two head coaching hires, a slew of building projects and other appointments this week, starting with three committee meetings this afternoon. The public portion of Thursday’s meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. at the campus Public Affairs Center and will be broadcast online.

Highlights include:

— Approval of former Oklahoma State head coach Brad Underwood for men’s basketball and longtime Washington University coach Nancy Fahey in women’s basketball. Agenda items with details of those appointments won’t be available until after the board’s executive session Thursday morning, though the major terms of their contracts were released earlier.

Underwood’s six-year contract will pay him $2.75 million this year, eventually rising to $3.25 million. He also gets a $600,000 bonus if he remains coach through May 1, 2020, and $600,000 more if he stays through May 1, 2022. Illinois also picked up the $3 million he owes Oklahoma State for leaving that school after one year.

Fahey has a six-year, $3.3 million contract with total compensation starting at $500,000 annually and rising to $615,000 the final year.

— Approval of Edward Seidel as vice president for economic development and innovation, at a salary of $380,000 annually. Seidel has been serving as interim vice president for research and previously was director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

— Approval of Peter Mortensen, director of the School of Architecture, as interim dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts. He succeeds Kathleen Harleman, who had been interim dean since former Dean Ed Feser was promoted to interim provost in 2015. Feser has since left for a new job at Oregon State.

— Approval of Dean of Students Ken Ballom as interim vice chancellor for student affairs, to replace Renee Romano, who is retiring this month. A national search is underway for Romano’s successor.

— Budget increases for several building projects, including the renovation of Freer Hall. The project to replace the Freer pool with new classrooms and research space will rise by $1.35 million, to more than $20.35 million.

— Design approval for a project approved earlier to revamp and expand the Illinois Street Residence Halls dining facility and create new residential life space, at a cost of $69.8 million. It will be funded primarily through bonds repaid with student housing fees.

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May 10, 2017 at 12:16AM

Budget resolution tops UI trustees’ agenda

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