Legislative Testimony

March 9, 2011
William L. Perry, President
Eastern Illinois University

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today and for your continued support of Eastern Illinois University.

We are engaged in a simple, three-stage process. We come to you and ask, based on our efficiency and effectiveness, for funding at a certain level. You then fund us at a level you feel to be feasible, prudent, and appropriate. We then take that money and get excellent outcomes in an effective and efficient manner.

These are tough economic times for the state and for our students and their families. Eastern has adopted numerous strategies to deal with these times.

  • We have instituted a 25 percent decrease ($1.6 million) in operations budgets across campus in anticipation of cash flow problems this spring caused by delayed payments in general revenue funding;
  • Eastern has continued a hiring freeze that requires presidential approval for all hires. The hiring freeze has resulted to date in a 60 headcount reduction in faculty and staff. This will result in an estimated annualized savings of $3.1 million;
    The university continues to use scarce institutional funds to provide additional financial aid for students who have been affected by decreases in the MAP program;
  • We have an ongoing cost containment initiative that solicits ideas from all campus constituents about how we can save money. Via web submission, these suggestions have helped us learn about new and creative ideas to contain costs. We are spinning down hard drives, going paperless, using fonts that use less toner, and implementing energy conservation measures.

In the current economic climate efficiency and effectiveness in support of excellence and access must be our primary goal. I submit that EIU is efficient and effective. With respect to efficiency, our general revenue is $1400 less per full time student than the average for the other public Illinois master's comprehensive universities. On effectiveness, our freshman to sophomore retention rate is the highest of that group and our graduation rate is 14 percentage points higher than the group's average graduation rate.

Not only do we perform well academically, we are a university of opportunity:

  • We are accessible. In 2009-10, 33 percent of our students who filed a FAFSA came from a home reporting under $33,075 in annual income. Also 48 percent of our new students this year are first generation college students;
  • We work hard to help transfer students. Over 1 out of every 3 students at Eastern has transferred to our university, the majority coming from an Illinois community college;
  • We are increasingly diverse. Since 2004, the number of students of color on our campus has almost doubled. These students now comprise 17 percent of our student body, with 12.8 percent of our student body being African American.

Our effectiveness and efficiency, and our ability to weather the cash flow stress tests of FY10 and FY11 is the result of a historically strong approach to both financial management and academic outcomes. We will continue that tradition.

  • We will continue to reduce expenditures;
  • We are proposing a pilot program to increase institutional revenue by using targeted, individualized, partial tuition waivers;
  • Hiring at Eastern will remain frozen at Eastern, with exceptions being authorized only by the president;
  • We will continue to become a more sustainable university. Our performance contract with Honeywell International represents over $80 million dollars in energy conservation projects that don't utilize taxpayer dollars or student fees;
  • Eastern will continuously work to adopt new business models and pursue legislation to support the implementation of these initiatives to become a more efficient and effective university.

Eastern has produced great academic outcomes for many years; years in which we remained at the bottom of per student FTE GRF funding. We're successful because we work strategically, we work efficiently, and we never forget that student success is of utmost priority. We earn the state support we receive.

We support initiatives for outcomes-based funding that rewards effectiveness and efficiency, we support increased autonomy for public universities, and we support actions that provide public universities with the funding and regulatory freedom that enables effective and efficient support of our students' academic goals.

Thank you very much for your time today. I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.