WIU President: “State of the University is okay”

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WIU President: “State of the University is okay”

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Thursday, August 17, 2017 6:24 PM EDT

The 2017 University Assembly at WIU in Macomb
The 2017 University Assembly at WIU in Macomb

MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) –

A roller coaster ride, that’s how the president of Western Illinois University described the state budget impasse’s impact on his student’s in an address on Thursday.

Jack Thomas summarized the state of the university as “okay,” but getting better because the state has finally approved a budget which will give WIU $46.3 million in state appropriations, but that’s still short about $7-million from what they’re used to budgeting, so they’re not out of the woods yet.

“So now we can begin to rebuild, however, we do know that we have to be very cautious and we have to be very fiscally conservative because we don’t know what the future holds,” Thomas said.

Thomas says the impasse made a big impact on the university. With two years of no budget, he said the university’s reserves are gone.

“Hopefully at some point, when the state continues to come through with funding and show us that it is going to continue to invest in higher education, then hopefully we can rebuild our reserve and put that back in place,” Thomas added.

Thomas also laid out plans to step up new student recruitment and the goal of stabilizing enrollment at 10,000 students.

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August 17, 2017 at 06:41PM

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WIU President: “State of the University is okay”

Budget impasse put U of I construction project behind

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The state budget impasse that lasted over two years means a key street by the University of Illinois is likely to remain closed to traffic until after students return next month.

The Champaign News-Gazette reports construction on Green Street by the Illini Union had to shut down June 30 because of the impasse.

Workers headed back to the job last month after the impasse ended. However, that put the project about two weeks behind.

Stacey DeLorenzo, a planning coordinator for facilities and services, says crews had to secure the site before shutdown and then go back and undo the work when the project resumed.

The street was supposed to open, at least partially, before the start of classes on Aug. 28. It’s now expected to remain closed until Sept. 1.

___

Information from: The News-Gazette, http://ift.tt/12IJdWp

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August 12, 2017 at 03:00PM

Budget impasse put U of I construction project behind

MAP grant funding available to Lake Land College students

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The recently passed Illinois state budget means Lake Land College students who qualified for financial aid from the state will receive it for the 2017-2018 school year.

This form of financial aid is called the MAP grant and it does not have to be repaid. To help students who are making higher education decisions for fall 2017, the college is applying MAP grants to accounts for students who qualify.

Students can check their MAP grant status by logging into their Laker Hub account and selecting “Financial Aid” under the IRIS menu on the left and then “Award Letter.” While in the Laker Hub, students can register for New Student Orientation or call 217-234-5301.

For many students, a MAP grant combined with a Pell grant, both of which do not have to be repaid, will cover all tuition and fees for Lake Land College for the year. Tuition and fees for one year are about $3,900, nearly a fourth of tuition and fees at the average state university.

Lake Land College assures students who qualify will receive the MAP grant financial aid for the fall 2017 semester, which starts Aug. 21. There is plenty of time for new students to get started. Visit lakelandcollege.edu and look for the “Enroll Now” button or call 217-234-5254.

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July 28, 2017 at 03:09AM

MAP grant funding available to Lake Land College students

Parkland College applying MAP Grants starting in August

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    July 27, 2017 at 04:18PM

    Parkland College applying MAP Grants starting in August

    MAP Grant Funding available to Lake Land College students

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    MATTOON — The recently passed Illinois state budget means Lake Land College students who qualified for financial aid from the state will receive it for the 2017-2018 school year.

    This form of financial aid is called the MAP grant and it does not have to be repaid. To help students who are making higher education decisions for fall 2017, the college is applying MAP grants to accounts for students who qualify.

    Students can check their MAP grant status by logging into their Laker Hub account and selecting “Financial Aid” under the IRIS menu on the left and then “Award Letter.” While in the Laker Hub, students can register for New Student Orientation or call 217-234-5301.

    For many students, a MAP grant combined with a Pell grant, both of which do not have to be repaid, will cover all tuition and fees for Lake Land College for the year. Tuition and fees for one year are about $3,900, nearly a fourth of tuition and fees at the average state university.

    Lake Land College assures students who qualify will receive the MAP grant financial aid for the fall 2017 semester, which starts Aug. 21. There is plenty of time for new students to get started! Visit lakelandcollege.edu and look for the “Enroll Now” button or call 217-234-5254.

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    July 27, 2017 at 01:23AM

    MAP Grant Funding available to Lake Land College students

    Restored MAP funding gives local colleges a boost

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    GALESBURG — Local colleges are collecting their MAP grant funding for the 2016-2017 school year via the new state budget, allowing them to funnel their resources elsewhere. 

    In total, Knox College has received a little more than $1.5 million in MAP funding to cover 334 students. Carl Sandburg College received $580,000 for 483 students, and the school expects to collect more to cover another 55 students, for a total of slightly over $600,000 in MAP funding. 

    Though the funds could have come earlier considering the schools are now planning for the next school year, it’s better late than never for MAP recipients. Lisa Hanson, director of financial aid for Carl Sandburg, said many of Sandburg’s MAP students borrowed money from family or friends or assumed excessive debt to make up for the delayed funding, which they’ll now be able to pay back. 

    “I have two students who work in our office and one will be going to ISU next year, and it was a real help for her because it’ll allow her to make a deposit for housing,” Hanson said. “My other student worker, she’ll be getting MAP funds, and she’s had to scramble for transportation. This’ll allow her to put money back into her car.”

    The funding will relieve the burden on administrations as well. Knox would have used money from its endowment to cover funding for MAP students had the state not passed a budget. Now the administration does not need to dip into that resource and the endowment can continue to grow for other purposes, said Karrie Heartlein, director of government and community affairs for Knox. 

    Monmouth College had also planned to cover funding for its MAP students if needed. The college just received $1.7 million in MAP funding on Thursday and hopes to collect the remaining funds soon, for a total of $2.2 million to cover 540 students. 

    The college can now look at all the funding requests it received from various departments and address ones that had been put on hold during the budget crisis. Those could range from new equipment for labs, more resources for the library or even new study abroad programs, said Duane Bonifer, executive director of communications and marketing for the college. 

    “People would say at meetings, ‘that’s something to talk about when the state of Illinois gets its act together,’” Bonifer said. “Campus-wide, everyone was sort of ‘in’; you didn’t have one group of people or one department saying, ‘we’ve had enough, we need to have our needs fulfilled right now.’ I think it’s just a great testament to the community and the family atmosphere of this place. Everyone pulled together and I think everyone did a real nice job.”

    While Sandburg would not have been able to cover MAP grant funds, it planned its 2017-2018 budget without expecting to receive any state funds. Now that the funds have come in, Hanson expected the school would put state money back into its accounts to replenish what the college used to help cover expenses during the budget crisis.

    The three schools have also been tracking the activity of the state government and preparing for the future, in the event that the legislative history of the past two years repeats itself. Hanson said Sandburg has been looking “very closely” at its expenses and making sure the college can cover them with minimal assistance from the state.

    Heartlein did not know how deep the Knox administration’s conversations had been regarding independence from state funding, but she thought it was concerning that the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Rauner could not agree on a budget year after year. 

    “You get into dangerous waters when you have to start building contingency plans because the state of Illinois is not honoring its promises,” Heartlein said. “I think it’s something we all have to think about very seriously.”

    Monmouth is in the process of restructuring its budget model and income strategy so it can be fiscally independent from all types of government funds. The college hopes to grow its endowment so that one day, state and federal money will be “extras” and not financing students’ education, Bonifer said. The plan seems off to a positive start, as the college received a $20 million endowment commitment from an anonymous donor in April. 

    Bonifer said many colleges across the nation have been looking at how they can become financially solvent without much government aid, but the situation seemed to amplify in Illinois with the state budget crisis. 

    “We think the horizon might look good now, but the dark clouds are going to reappear and we’re going to have more problems in the future,” Bonifer said. “We want to control our destiny and our future, and the way to do that is to be as fiscally independent as possible. If anything, I think the last couple of years have been a wake-up call on that.”

     

    Rebecca Susmarski: (309) 343-7181, ext. 261; rsusmarski@register-mail.com; @RSusmarski

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    July 23, 2017 at 08:01AM

    Restored MAP funding gives local colleges a boost

    I-TEAM: NIU golden parachute angers lawmakers

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    DeKalb, Ill (WAND) – While lawmakers are dealing with crumbling finances some are raising eyebrows over questionable spending at Northern Illinois University.  New legislation may even be passed to control the universities board of trustees after the exit of President Douglas Baker.

    “Six hundred grand is just insane,” said State Representative Bill Mitchell, (R) Forsyth, speaking with WAND I-TEAM reporter Doug Wolfe about a $600,000 golden parachute for Baker.  “That’s a bonus for doing a bad job.  You can wonder why the citizens of this state are saying what the hell is the matter with the people that are running the state.”

    Baker was cited in an Office of the Executive Inspector General report for the improper hiring of five consultants and the payment of $1 million over two years to those individuals.  The report ripped Baker saying he “mismanaged” NIU.  A claim Baker has denied.

    Baker decided to submit his resignation in June and the board provided him with a controversial golden parachute as he leaves his job.  Baker is receiving $450,000 which is equal to one-year of his salary.  $137,500 to give up a tenured position in the college of business and another $30,000 to cover legal expenses.  The total to you as taxpayers is $617,500.

    “We thought a few years ago we should pass some legislation trying to crack down on this so-called golden parachute nonsense.  But apparently not,” stated State Senator Chapin Rose, (R) Mahomet.  “So now we have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what we can put in to try to stop this once and for all.”

    The Edgar County Watchdogs have been following spending at NIU for several years.

    “How can you mismanage something and then the board gives you a massive payout like that?” asked Watchdog co-founder John Kraft.  His partner, Kirk Allen, has similar concerns.

    “We need better laws that allow public bodies to terminate these employees for malfeasance,” Allen said.  “I think there is more than enough evidence to support termination with cause.  He shouldn’t be getting a single penny.”

    Baker’s last day on the job was Friday, June 30th.  A lawsuit has been filed by a DeKalb woman seeking to vacate the deal claiming the board of trustees violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act in making the deal with Baker.

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    July 6, 2017 at 10:14PM

    I-TEAM: NIU golden parachute angers lawmakers