First, let me thank you for all the love and support you have shown EIU through your participation in the various advocacy efforts over the last few weeks. You make me proud to be the president of this beloved university!
Several of you are wondering about the budgetary impasse in Springfield and how it is affecting EIU. There have also been a number of rumors going around that have caused some students to become anxious about their education. I hope this email provides you with information to understand the happenings in Springfield and also addresses the various rumors that have been circulating. I realize this message is a bit lengthy, but I thought the information might be helpful to you and your parents.
What is “The Budget Impasse”?
EIU operates on an annual budget funded primarily by student tuition and fee revenues and a state appropriation. The funds that are appropriated by the state to EIU and the other Illinois public universities offset the cost of operating each university so that tuition and fees can be kept low and affordable. Without its state appropriations, EIU would be a private, rather than public, university and its tuition and fees would need to be much higher to cover total costs of attendance. Thus, public universities rely on the state’s support to provide a world class education at an affordable cost to students. The amount that each university receives annually from the state is determined when lawmakers approve the state budget, an action that usually occurs by May 31 for the fiscal year that will begin July 1. Appropriated funds are then transferred to each university over several payments throughout the year.
For this year (Fiscal Year 2016), Illinois lawmakers have been unable to agree on a state budget (which should have been done by May 31, 2015). This standstill and thus complete lack of a budget is what is being referenced when you hear the term “budget impasse.” No state budget = no appropriations for public universities. That means that none of the public university campuses have received any funds at all from the state for this year. This has become a challenge for every one of us as we all rely on our state appropriation to fund our operations. EIU was expecting to receive about $40 million for our operations and between $7 and $9 million for MAP award reimbursements.
Without an appropriation, EIU and the other Illinois public universities have had to use their emergency and cash-flow reserve funds to cover what we have not received from the state. This challenge is not just being seen on EIU’s campus, but on all the public university campuses in Illinois. Each university is being managed as best it can to maintain the highest academic standards and cause the least disruption to student education.
As you may have heard, EIU will need to lay off 177 civil service employees and have administrative and professional employees take a specified number of unpaid days off in March, April, May and June if the state does not enact an appropriation for EIU before March 10. Once our appropriation is enacted and we begin to receive funds from the state, we will start to bring back employees who had been laid off to the extent the appropriation provides.
We have every expectation that EIU will receive its Fiscal Year 2016 appropriation by the end of the semester and that our Fiscal Year 2017 appropriation will be enacted in a timely manner.
I have heard several rumors being circulated across campus. Let me try to put some of those to rest:
Is EIU closing? No, EIU is not closing. The university is financially secure with an appropriation from the state. We fully expect our appropriation to be enacted soon.
Will EIU be open in the summer and fall? Yes, we anticipate that there will not be any interruption in the education of our students. We are looking forward to wonderful new classes of freshman and transfer students entering EIU in the fall.
Are some academic programs going to be cut next year? No. In fact, we are developing and adding some exciting new undergraduate and graduate programs that will debut next year.
Will EIU and the other public universities ever get an appropriation? Yes, and we hope it will be soon. The state understands the importance of higher education to the success of Illinois’ economy and its intellectual and workforce development. Without the state supporting public universities, the cost in tuition would become unaffordable for most Illinois citizens who would then leave Illinois to seek their higher education.
Is EIU in jeopardy of losing its accreditation? No, even with the cutback on expenses and the possible layoff of civil service employees, EIU continues to meet or exceed the criteria for accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission.
Is EIU going to become a satellite campus for a larger university? No, there is no truth to this rumor.
Is EIU going to be sold? No, the university belongs to the state of Illinois.
Most likely, you will continue to hear additional rumors being circulated. Please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
David M. Glassman
President, Eastern Illinois University