CARBONDALE — Comptroller Susana Mendoza promised the release of $695 million to Illinois higher education, but even though more state money could be on the way, it hasn’t stopped the fear of uncertainty that alumni said is dangerous to the future of higher education.
Thursday, Mendoza released $527 million to higher education. The same day, with the fear of shaky funding, the SIU Board of Trustees voted to permanently cut $19 million from university’s budget.
It’s something that has alumnus Jeffrey Lewis sad to see.
“Schools like Southern Illinois University are developing future leaders, and if you’re cutting back significant amounts of money like that out of this budget, you’re really really hurting the future,” Lewis said.
Lewis graduated from SIU in 1978 in the Political Science program, a program that may see the loss of its master program in the near future. He said cutting back is driving students away to the competition.
“To not invest in those universities, first of all, it’s going to cause your top talent to go out of state,” he said.
Other alums like Rapheal Hayden said what worries them most about the cuts are the futures of the students.
“Honestly, it makes me wonder what’s going to happen with the students,” said the 2013 alum. “If anything, SIU Carbondale needed more upgrades in a lot of different areas.”
They worry the university will be left behind as part of the budget crisis.
“For us to be a lagger in public education is just stupid,” Lewis said. “It’s not only just short sighted: it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Both men said investing in the university is vital to its future as a major institution.