22, No. 16, March 20, 2003
A proposal by Gov.
Rod Blagojevich that state universities and other state agencies cut
8 percent from this year’s budget would mean layoffs for student
workers, graduate assistants and employees, cutbacks in undergraduate
courses and library services and would jeopardize the university’s
ability to compete for research funds. That’s the message the
UI Board of Trustees heard from all three chancellors and top administrators
at the March 13 trustees’ meeting in Rockford.
The trustees emphasized
their concern for financial accountability by asking campus administrators
to review their administrative structures for possible streamlining
and provide a more detailed report of future operating budgets.
The board also agreed to follow the same rules for travel expense reimbursements
as other state university employees.
Two weeks ago, Blagojevich asked state universities and agencies to
look at their current budgets and identify ways to cut 8 percent. This
would total nearly $59 million for the UI, based on its $730 million
appropriation from the state legislature for day-to-day operation. The
universities had four days to respond.
The UI was able to pull together about 4.25 percent, or $31.2 million
from three sources:
1. Suspecting there could be another midyear rescission (as there was
last year), the university had held back $13.4 million that was earmarked
for high-priority deferred maintenance, repair and renovation projects,
and facility renovation projects on all three campuses. In typical years,
that money would be distributed to the three campuses early in the fiscal
year and the campuses would do the projects on their own timetable.
2. University administration would further reduce spending by $4 million.
3. The three campuses combined would make spending reductions totaling
some $13.7 million.
These potential actions – each a blow to students, faculty and
staff members and the people the university serves – were developed
by senior academic officials on the campuses themselves.
At Urbana-Champaign, an 8 percent rescission would mean cuts of nearly
$21 million, and cutbacks in teaching, research, technology and business
operations, said Chancellor Nancy Cantor.
Campus seed grant programs that provide matching funds for research
grants from outside sources would fall to the budget ax, with a loss
of $20 million and 232 jobs, Cantor said.
"These seed grant programs are absolutely critical to our ability
to compete for research funds," Cantor said. (See a complete
list of potential cuts for the Urbana campus.)
At UIC, an 8 percent cut would mean the loss of 850 student jobs, eliminating
summer session, cuts in library services, laying off 275 noncontract
workers, dropping summer orientation for incoming students and parents
and reducing matching funds for federal grants. UIC Chancellor Sylvia
Manning also decried the effects of deferred maintenance on campus buildings.
"In many cases, there is a tremendous premium paid for the deferral,"
Manning said, giving as an example failing to replace an aging pipe,
which subsequently bursts and damages ceilings, walls, computers and
The impact of an 8 percent cut would be devastating for the Springfield
campus because "we have no reserves," said Chancellor Richard
Ringeisen. "We can’t do it. There is not that kind of money
on our campus."
"If I could use one word to describe what is lost, it would be
‘quality,’ " said UI President James J. Stukel. "And
quality is the only commodity we have that makes us different."
In any case, because so much of the UI’s operating budget is salary
and wages – about 80 percent – positions are once again
at risk, the president said.
"If the FY03 rescission becomes permanent in FY 04, the number
of layoffs will rise substantially," Stukel said.
For example, if the state cuts the university’s budget under the
4.25 percent scenario, some 375 positions are at risk. Under the full
8 percent scenario, some 700 positions are at risk. These lost positions
are on top of the 900 full-time-equivalent positions eliminated to cover
the FY 03 recurring budget cuts. The university’s official employee
payroll count as of last October was 23,485; layoffs, notices of non-reappointment
and other employment actions are not necessarily reflected in that number.
"The University of Illinois is challenged more seriously today
than at any time in my 40-plus-year career with the institution,"
Stukel said. "We need to work together and make the right decisions
now to ensure that the university meets these challenges."
Chancellors outline budget crisis