21, No. 16, March 21, 2002
Trustees discuss budgetary shortfall,
By Sharita Forrest,
(217) 244-1072; email@example.com
Given the states
decision to reduce higher education funding, a special tuition increase
is needed to preserve staffing and quality programs during the coming
fiscal year, Chester Gardner, vice president for academic affairs, told
the UI Board of Trustees at its March 14 meeting in Urbana.
Gardner asked for additional tuition increases of 5 percent at the Urbana
campus, 6 percent at Springfield and 7 percent at Chicago for fall 2002.
The additional funds are critical because of the projected $43 million
deficit in state funding expected during the coming fiscal year, Gardner
If approved, the additional increases would raise tuition at each campus
by 10 percent per semester $117 at Chicago, $98 at Urbana and
$90 at Springfield. The increase would generate about $10.76 million.
In response to a question from Trustee Robert Vickrey, Gardner said
he and the provosts had determined an equitable amount for the students
to shoulder would be one-fourth of the universitys anticipated
deficit during the next fiscal year.
The boards approval of the tuition increase could spare approximately
125 faculty and staff positions and assistantships/residencies that
would have to be cut without the extra funds, Gardner said.
The university already has permanently eliminated 140 positions this
fiscal year, including 40 faculty member positions.
"This university is about people," Gardner said. "So
when it all boils down, I think its appropriate that we focus
on what does this mean in terms of people. Without the special tuition
increase, we are going to have to lose, through attrition and perhaps
through layoffs, about 740 full-time equivalent employees and about
275 of them are going to be faculty [members]."
Cantor told the trustees that these potential staffing changes would
not happen immediately but would have to occur gradually to avoid abrupt
programming changes that would be detrimental to students.
"I dont want it to be assumed that tomorrow there will be
that drop in faculty," Cantor said. "So when we estimate the
teaching load, were going to use as much cash reserves as we can
to create a soft landing. We dont know yet how it will impact
particular roles in particular departments."
"Even though were trying as hard as possible to protect our
educational programs, they will not escape unscathed, unfortunately,"
Unless the board approves a tuition increase, reduced state funding
during the 2002-2003 academic year may mean that classroom renovations
at Urbana will have to be scaled back, the faculty excellence program
eliminated, enrollment reduced by 400 in the College of Commerce and
course sections reduced in the English and speech communications departments.
Programs to have been funded by the tuition surcharge would also be
jeopardized if the Chicago and Urbana campuses are forced to use those
funds to meet their budget shortfalls. Planned expansions of the Freshmen
Discovery, general education, entrepreneur studies and study abroad
programs at Urbana would all be affected.
Springfield Chancellor Richard Ringeisen expressed concern that because
the Springfield campus elected not to impose a tuition surcharge, it
would not have those funds to draw upon as would the Chicago and Urbana
campuses. The surcharge imposed a $500 additional fee for incoming classes
beginning fall 2001.
At the Chicago campus, reduced state funding next year may mean that
classroom renovations will have to be halted, the Daley Library closed
one hour earlier and services curtailed in the reference and document
areas. Between 50-70 course sections may have to be canceled in the
business administration department also, Gardner said.
Funding for the universitywide UI Integrate project might also be slashed
by $11 million and plans suspended for installing high-speed LAN upgrades
in more than 100 buildings if the board does not approve the proposed
special tuition increase.
Provost Richard Herman told the trustees that he and Cantor are trying
to find ways to reduce costs while preserving programs. They have asked
the college deans to offer their recommendations, and Cantor has apprised
the Urbana-Champaign Senate of the latest projected budgetary figures.
Trustee Robert Vickrey expressed concern that an increase might be detrimental
to lower- and middle-income students.
Gardner responded that 24 percent of funds from tuition increases are
dedicated to subsidizing the additional tuition costs for students receiving
M.A.P. awards so such students are unaffected by increased tuition.
Trustee Kenneth Schmidt asked about the possibility of refinancing the
universitys long-term debt but was advised that all eligible debt
has already been refinanced.
Schmidt then suggested that the trustees be utilized to recruit endowments.
"Its our cushion against this type of problem," Schmidt
said. "The board has not been used effectively in this regard."
Chairman Gerald Shea expressed concern about the universitys deteriorating
infrastructure if maintenance and renovation programs are not adequately
Shea also suggested that funds be reallocated to avoid the need for
eliminating faculty and staff positions.
Plummer and Trustee Jeffrey Gindorf agreed to meet with Gardner and
the Finance Committee to review the proposed tuition increase further.
However, despite its financial woes, the university faces high demand
for admission. Thus far, 31,000 students have applied for the 9,450
seats in the fall 2002 freshmen classes at the three campuses, Gardner
Cantor and Manning said they expect enrollment to increase by only 200
students at each of their campuses.
Ringeisen said applications for the Capital Scholars program at the
Springfield campus are up 100 percent, but he was uncertain how enrollment
would be affected overall.
In other business, the trustees approved revised design plans for the
$31 million North Campus Parking Deck slated for construction east of
Beckman Institute. The lot is bounded by University, Matthews and Goodwin
avenues and Clark Street.
The parking structure had to be redesigned because viable tenants could
not be secured for the retail space included on the original schema,
said Robert Todd, associate vice president for administration and human
According to the new designs, the six-level structure will contain 21,300
square feet of retail space on the ground level and space for 1,600
vehicles. The designs also allow for the possibility of converting 20,000
square feet of parking into office space on the north sides lower
The trustees also approved construction of a Structural Biology Research
Facility on the Chicago medical campus. The 12,000-square-foot building
will house nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and X-ray diffraction equipment
related to the Center for Structural Biology, which is now located at
various sites. The $4.6 million facility is being funded with a $2 million
grant from the National Institutes of Health and $2.6 million from the
In other business, the trustees also passed a resolution permitting
the boards of the Research Park and Illinois VENTURES to convene in
executive session to protect confidential business information.