Opinion | Voice of The Southern: A clearer picture for SIUC

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We’ve all had the experience.

We’re standing on the shore of a lake or river and a boat passes by in the distance. It takes a while for the wake to reach the shore, but the effects of the disturbance inevitably appear. And, the waves continue lapping at the shore long after the boat has passed.

The State of Illinois went without a budget for two years. While the state did its best to minimize the effects, it was just a matter of time before citizens and institutions felt the wash. There were ripples throughout the past two years, cuts in services and some reduction in staff, but the first waves hit the beach this week.

The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees meeting this week created some waves of its own, announcing cuts and consolidations in programs.

A case could be made that in light of the ongoing budget crisis, the cuts were overdue. Conversely, waiting until the state passed a budget put the university’s predicament into sharper focus, allowing a more surgical approach to cutbacks.

The Board of Trustees suggested the elimination of seven degree programs — bachelor’s degrees in mining engineering, business economics, physical education teacher education and Africana studies. Master’s programs in mining engineering and political science were also tagged for elimination as well as the doctorate program in historical studies.

First, it’s a shame that any academic programs have to be scuttled. College students are best served when the school of their choice provides the greatest diversity in programs and enrollment. If these programs are ultimately dropped, it will diminish the university.

On the other hand, there is the economic reality of 2017 and two years without a state budget.

The programs slated for elimination have historically not attracted a lot of students. In robust economic times, these programs could be considered a luxury. Given the reality of today — SIU will be receiving $91.4 million in state appropriations for FY 2018, down 10 percent from $101.6 million in FY 2015, the last year the state had a budget.

Clearly, reality dictates minimal luxuries.

Several other cost cutting moves were also announced. SIU will combine several programs into a new College of Media, Design and Fine and Performing Arts. Other areas of study will be rolled into the colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Engineering.

The consolidation will make the university a bit leaner and result in administrative savings. As SIU Carbondale’s enrollment continues to drop, changes along these lines were just a matter of time. The financial crunch pushed them to the front burner.

Finally, plans to raze University Towers and begin construction of new student housing were put on hold. The plans for new student housing have been on the books for several years. Eventually, as the towers age, the plan will have to be implemented. But that is the cost of, in this instance, the state not doing business.

The cuts outlined by the Board of Trustees aren’t draconian. To those of us outside the board room, they seem reasonable, although not particularly appealing.

“No one cheers a 10 percent cut, but … we know where we are,” said SIU president Randy Dunn. “It unfreezes things. It’s something we can work with. It’s sustainable. It’s predictable. We can do planning and implementation from that and we’re appreciative of having it.”

As noted earlier, this is the first wave.

The deteriorating financial condition of the state has changed variables for students selecting a university. More cuts are likely to occur before the state turns around. But, as Dunn said, the university now has a clearer picture of at least the immediate future.

Opinion | Voice of The Southern: A clearer picture for SIUC

‘We’re OK,’ says EIU president

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last of six stories in the JG-TC’s “State of the University” series focusing on Eastern Illinois University’s recent years of declining enrollment, and financial challenges related to the Illinois state budget impasse. This installment looks at elements that will help shape the university’s future.

CHARLESTON — The state budget impasse has been an unintended “distraction” for Eastern Illinois University, according to the university president, but plans moving forward are intended to keep the institution in a good place.

These plans do not include budget cuts, David Glassman said.

“Because of the things that we did last year with layoffs and furloughing and so on, we positioned ourselves to be in an efficient budgetary position right now,” Glassman said. “We’re OK.”

Right now, the university has 1,224 employees, including 737 staff and 487 faculty. When the layoff process started, the university had 1,743 employees.

“We anticipate that there will be another stop gap or budget at some time,” Glassman said.

The university has not received money since the last stop-gap funding measure that ended at the end of the year. If history is any indication of when Eastern might receive the funds, Glassman noted it likely would not be until the end of May. That time last year the university received the first of many stop-gap funding measures.

More recently, a house bill allocating more than $800 million in stop-gap funding passed through the Illinois House of Representatives without approval from Gov. Bruce Rauner. The bill now sits in the Illinois Senate.

While he liked the bill, state Rep. Reggie Phillips, R-Charleston, did not vote “yes” on it. He said he saw the bill as “dead on arrival.”

“It is not going anywhere,” Phillips said. “Say it passes at the end of May out of the Senate. Then, the governor has 60 days to sit on it. It’s dead… At the end of 60 days, he can veto it, which he will.”

Phillips is hedging his bets on the chance for a full budget with full funding to universities in the near future. Phillips said by the time the legislature is back in session, there should be a “grand bargain” budget proposal plan created by Senate leaders.

Phillips said he was hopeful for the chance to finally see the budget jam break before now, however, he thinks there is still a good chance it might fail.

“If terms limits are a part of that budget, it is going nowhere,” Phillips said. “(House Speaker Michael Madigan) has made it perfectly clear. He wants a budget based on the way it has been done in the past without any turnaround agenda on it. The question is: Will the governor’s and Madigan’s offices be able to work with each other to save face?

“If we don’t get it done by May 31st, then this is the way we are going to be until 2018,” Phillips continued.

Beyond calling for funding, Glassman said Eastern and other state university officials have been working on pushing for predictable and stable funding. Glassman said the universities need to know from year to year how much money they are getting from the state.

The lack of predictability has made planning financially a significant challenge, Glassman said.

Despite what happens at the state level, Glassman said Eastern will be focusing on bringing people to campus through further strategic investments in marketing.

Stacia Lynch, EIU marketing director, said the university has been enhancing its advertising and exposure.

“We’ve worked diligently to increase our exposure locally and in the Chicago suburbs,” Lynch said. “These efforts have primarily centered around recruiting events such as Admitted Student Day events in Chicago and on-campus and open houses. In Chicago, our ads appeared in the Chicago Tribune suburban network newspapers, online, on-air with WGN radio, and online with Comcast.”

The same is being done locally, targeting prospective regional students.

The university is also continuing a campaign in theaters as well, where an ad for Eastern will run prior to movies in a number of local and suburban Chicago venues.

“The end goal for all of our efforts is to get prospective students to visit campus. We know that one of our most powerful recruiting tools is the campus visit,” Lynch said.

The university has also sought guidance from a national advertising agency, Thorburn Group, which is tasked with helping Eastern best communicate the stories of those at the university.

Lynch said these moves will help get students to campus, however, it will not necessarily directly boost enrollment.

“I don’t believe there is any statistic that can directly correlate admissions with advertising, though I believe people may think that’s the case,” she said. “In reality, it is the sum total of all of a prospects’ experiences that get them to commit to EIU. We may pique their interest, educate them about Eastern, and motivate them to visit, but without a solidly positive campus experience, none of that would matter.”

Currently, the university is also running through the list of recommendations provided by the Vitalization Project, which was started late last year with groups tasked with identifying efficiencies and possibilities to make the university more marketable.

The recommendations are listed on the Vitalization Project website. Most recently, university officials have placed updated lists of changes made as a result of the project so far on the site with the recommendations.

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‘We’re OK,’ says EIU president

Faculty Senate votes to support Teach Out

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Faculty Senate votes to support Teach Out

Cassie Buchman, News Editor
March 21, 2017
Filed under News

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The Faculty Senate discussed the report it sent to the administration reviewing Workgroup No.7’s recommendations on academic programs and passed a resolution supporting a Teach Out at its meeting Tuesday.

The Faculty Senate had created a subcommittee in February to review the recommendations on the programs in Africana studies, philosophy, and career and technical education, which were recommended for deletion or consolidation by Workgroup No.7. In its report, the subcommittee determined that the three programs should be given time and encouraged to enact the structural changes currently underway instead of being eliminated.

“Dismantling these three programs or otherwise enforcing Workgroup No.7’s recommendations would at this time likely result in more harm than good,” according to the report. The Faculty Senate believes that EIU can ill afford at this juncture to eliminate programs without a demonstrated benefit to the long-term fiscal and/or academic health of this university.”

The committee found that the Africana studies program is in discussion with the Latin American studies, Asian studies and women’s studies programs to consolidate some current offerings and find innovative programming to meet the needs of the current student population.

“It would better serve our institution to allow these changes to be driven by faculty aware of the needs, strengths, and challenges of their programs and the ways that diverse programs can work together, than to make an arbitrary ‘top-down’ edict that would enforce an elimination or consolidation of a major,” the report said.

For career and technological education, the subcommittee found the program has shown strong enrollment numbers until the year 2013. Though the program has seen low enrollment in recent years, the subcommittee wrote, there is high demand in the field for workers with a career and technological education skill set.

“Such strong numbers of graduating students (until very recently), coupled with promising job prospects, would indicate that eliminating CTE is premature at this time,” the committee wrote.

Regarding philosophy, the subcommittee wrote that eliminating it would lead to a loss of credibility as a university and that the program has the best student-credit-hour production in the College of Arts and Humanities.

Like the Africana studies program, philosophy has also been engaged in conversations with related programs to develop new interdisciplinary programs.

In its notes on Workgroup No. 7’s budgetary analyses, the subcommittee wrote that both philosophy and Africana studies generate significant profits when examining program profit/loss analyses by “major regardless of subject.”

Faculty Senate chair Jemmie Robertson said it seems like various committees, including the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review committee, which looked at the philosophy program, all believe that philosophy is central to the university’s mission and core values.

The Faculty Senate’s final report was sent to Eastern President David Glassman, Provost Blair Lord and the Board of Trustees.

Lord thanked the Faculty Senate for the feedback at the meeting and said no final decisions have on these programs have been made.

“There is still an ongoing consideration process,” Lord said.

He did report that the president’s council has been going through recommendations from the other vitalization project workgroups.

When making the report, Faculty Senate member CC Wharram said the subcommittee read through recommendations from the Workgroup and interviewed various representative and departments.

“We thought about some of the ramifications instead of just looking at the data,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the Faculty Senate voted to pass a resolution supporting a Teach Out for Illinois Higher Education members of the EIU-UPI are attending in response to a lack of funding for state universities and colleges.

The statewide Teach Out will include universities, community colleges and other coalition partners.

The Teach Out will involve taking students and faculty to the rotunda in the Springfield Capital so they could teach in the building.

Jon Blitz, president of the EIU-UPI, said there will be buses rented for people who want to go.

“We’re going to teach there, basically make a show of it, that we can’t do this anymore,” Blitz said.

To explain the reasoning behind the Teach Out, Blitz gave a presentation about how higher education funding in Illinois has been cut throughout the years and the effect it has had.

According to a chart Blitz showed, the total number of full-time employees dropped by about 35 percent from 2006 to 2016, and the number of civil service employees dropped by about 45 percent during the same time.

In his presentation, Blitz said that when adjusted for inflation, the average state appropriation to Eastern from 1973 to 2015 was $57.8 million.

For 2015, the last year with a state appropriation, Eastern received $43 million, which is 26 percent below this average.

When it comes to losing state-level funding, Blitz said, higher education is one of the areas that is worst off.

When comparing the FY 2015 enacted budget to FY 2016 maximum authorized spending, higher education took the biggest hit in education, with a 67.8 percent cut.

K-12 education was cut by 1.1 percent, while early childhood education funding increased by 7.5 percent.

“We’re being singled out; the data shows that,” Blitz said.

Nationally, from 2000 to 2015, in fifteen of the largest states, Illinois lost 54 percent in per-student funding. The only state doing worse was Arizona, until Illinois stopped receiving an appropriation.

Faculty Senate member Billy Hung asked the senate to consider telling their students about the Teach Out and let them make up work for the missed day.

“We have to fight for what we believe in, and part of that fighting has to be getting warm bodies at these events to have a show of support because they are elected officials who decide how the money is spent, and they need to feel the pressure from their electorate,” Hung said.

However, Faculty Senate member Amy Rosenstein said there is already an erroneous perception that people in higher education can do their job anywhere and do not work hard enough and suggested broadcasting to legislators the work professors do on campus.

“Someone needs to let the public know we’re working our butts off here,” she said. “I feel like that needs to be out there.”

Faculty Senate member Todd Bruns said anyone who thinks faculty members are lazy is going to think that regardless of the Teach Out.

“This is an opportunity for us to go to Springfield and talk to legislators to argue the point (Rosenstein’s) raising, which is how much work we do, how much these investments are needed,” Bruns said.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or cjbuchman@eiu.edu.

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Faculty Senate votes to support Teach Out

EIU’s economic impact documented

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CHARLESTON — Eastern Illinois University and the thousands of students who flock there influence the local and state economy substantially, according to a recent study evaluating the financial impact the university has on the area.

In a 16-page study conducted by Coles Together, a local economic development agency, they concluded that when more money is funneled into the university, more local and state economic growth follows suit.

“The economic impact of Eastern Illinois University on the local economy is remarkable in its breadth and depth,” the study reads. “The institution outperforms the economic impact of most industries in Coles County. For every dollar spent by the university, additional employment, revenue, and wealth are created in the county.”

The figures from the study depicted the positive impacts the university makes on the local and state economy excluding the cultural, philosophical or intellectual impact the university makes in Charleston and the surrounding areas.

According to the studies findings, for every 100 persons employed by Eastern, an additional 71 jobs are added to the region and a total of 79 are added in Illinois.

Additionally, they calculated that for every $100 the university spends in operating costs, an additional $83 in economic output is generated in the region and a total of $99 is generated within the Illinois economy.

Despite these numbers, and others included in the study, the appropriations from the state have dwindled, even before the budget impasse.

According to Eastern figures dating back five years, there has been a continued decline in state financial support to the university. In fiscal year 2012, the university received near $47 million, however in 2015, the university got a full appropriation, they received almost $43 million.

Angela Griffin, Coles Together president, said the idea to conduct such as study was percolating for a while before actually pulling the trigger on the study, starting in fall 2015. The organization was wondering if it had been measured or quantified in a while.

“It turns out it had not,” Griffin said.

An internal study done by Eastern in 2000 was the last time a comparable study of the university’s impact on the area had been conducted.

For Griffin and Coles Together, it became clear there was a need for the study after the start of the budget impasse that still has yet to waver between lawmakers in Springfield.

“At that point (in 2015), we were just exploring that idea,” Griffin said. “Then the budget crisis occurred and Eastern’s funding was in jeopardy, and so then it became even more clear that we as a community should understand the economic impact Eastern has.”

The study was run through a couple of modeling programs, IMPLAN 3.1 and Regional Economic Modeling, to reach the figures reached in the study. Griffin said the funding for the study came from local investors in Coles Together who earmarked their funding for this study.

A lot of people in the county wanted their resources to go to this project to find out the exact impact the university has on its surrounding areas, she said.

Griffin said Coles Together saw it as information tool not only for the community, but specifically for Eastern to use to make their case when seeking more state support.

“It will help (EIU President David Glassman) build a case for funding for EIU,” she noted. “I think this will give (state lawmakers) a very clear picture that an investment in higher ed is a substantial return on investment for the state of Illinois at a time when the state is struggling with revenue.”

Glassman sees the report of the study as an opportunity to show hard numbers on what the university means to the area financially.

“This report is very important to share with our legislators as it presents hard data that documents the value of investment by the state to supporting EIU,” Glassman said.

Other state universities communities have done similar studies depicting their impact to their economy as well, Griffin said.

A study showing Eastern’s impact on the local economy would be good to have, but the university’s success with academics is a better selling point, state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said.

It’s not Coles Together’s role to address academics but any economic impact “has to be in tandem with what we’re doing for students,” Righter said.

“The view people here have is whether Eastern and all the institutions of higher learning are best using their resources in the most efficient way to prepare students for the 21st Century economy,” he said.

Outside of sharing it with legislators, Glassman said the report will be used “for marketing purposes, in grant proposals, and to assist Cole County in recruiting businesses into our area.”

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EIU’s economic impact documented

Governor Rauner switches position on MAP grant funding – The Daily Illini

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Governor Rauner switches position on MAP grant funding

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner attends the Dedication Ceremony and ribbon cutting for the Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education in Urbana on October 2.

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Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner attends the Dedication Ceremony and ribbon cutting for the Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education in Urbana on October 2.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner attends the Dedication Ceremony and ribbon cutting for the Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education in Urbana on October 2.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner attends the Dedication Ceremony and ribbon cutting for the Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education in Urbana on October 2.

Angelica Lavito, Staff Writer
February 16, 2017
Filed under Administration, News, State, Top Stories

Governor Bruce Rauner proposed a significant increase in Monetary Award Program, MAP, Grant funding during his budget address to state lawmakers Wednesday. This comes after previous action by Rauner to veto bills supporting MAP grant funding.

“When it comes to higher education, we understand the hardship being felt by students who rely on state assistance to go to college,” Rauner said. “That’s why we’re proposing a 10 percent increase to MAP grant funding — so those students can focus on learning and not their next tuition bill.”

MAP grants are state funded, need-based scholarships. The program is an approximately $30 million venture at the University of Illinois system, according to University spokesman Tom Hardy.

The program has been affected by the two-year state budget impasse, with the state not providing funding for it this school year. The University has paid advances to support the program for now in anticipation of lawmakers passing a state budget with MAP Grant money included.

If Rauner’s proposal is included in the state budget, it would cover current MAP grants and pay for additional awards.

Besides the proposed grant increase, Rauner did not further address higher education funding. The budget impasse has hit colleges across the state, including the University of Illinois.

The budget also had a call for $7.686 billion for further K-12 education funding, a $213 million increase to this year’s number. Programs for English language learners would get $38 million more and funding for transportation would receive an additional $107 million increase compared to last year.

Rauner’s speech showed that he is open to increasing income and sales tax, and that there is a budget plan in the Illinois Senate that could possibly give the state its first full spending plan since July 2015.

Rauner said the income tax increase will only be approved if there is a permanent freeze on local property taxes, and that the proposed increase will not affect food and medicine taxes. He also said that he is opposed to collecting retirement income taxes.


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Governor Rauner switches position on MAP grant funding – The Daily Illini

EIU president to speak with Faculty Senate on recommendations list

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CHARLESTON — Eastern Illinois University’s president is expected to speak today with members of the Faculty Senate, presumably over concerns the senate members have over the college’s Vitalization Project.

Last week, some from the senate voiced concerns about the recently posted recommendations that came out of the Vitalization Project, and at around 3 p.m. today, David Glassman will meet with them in the Booth Library conference room to talk about the project.

The senate will also be voicing more opinions on the recommendations and their validity up to this point at 2 p.m. during their regularly scheduled meeting.

According to minutes from last week’s special senate meeting, many of the concerns focus on what some in the senate considered a “flawed” process. Most of the comments on the Vitalization Project touched on in that meeting focused on the academic programs, specifically those that have been targeted for elimination in the recommendations listing.  

According to the minutes, claims were also made that the workgroups involved with deliberating a decision on specific academic programs did not spend enough time reviewing reports of programs as well as responses of recommendations made by program leaders.

The minutes state that Stefan Eckert, senate member, thought the drive of the project was to heavily reliant on profit/loss sheets on each program. If that were the case, he noted that it also went against an assurance Glassman made that the recommendations would not be reliant on which programs were in the black.

Grant Sterling, senate member, said in that meeting that the recommendations do not even do an effective job at saving Eastern money, which was a partial goal of the project, according to the minutes. He cited programs like pre-engineering and philosophy, a program he is in, as ones that should not be recommended for elimination if only because they “are not losing money.”

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EIU president to speak with Faculty Senate on recommendations list