WIU to Cut Spending

Macomb, IL – Western Illinois University President Al Goldfarb is asking departments to cut budgets for next fiscal year by 3.5%. He says Governor Pat Quinn's proposed budget would reduce Western's state funding by $3.7 million.

In a letter to the campus community, Goldfarb says "...it is clear we are facing a difficult fiscal year."

Goldfarb says the university has frozen positions. In other words, no hiring is being done unless first approved by a vice president and then by Goldfarb. He expects to trim WIU's spending through a variety of means, including attrition and by curtailing spending on travel and equipment purchases.

"If we control our expenditures, we can make it through the year without layoffs," says Goldfarb in an interview with Tri States Public Radio. "But that would also depend on not getting any larger reduction (than Quinn's proposal). The legislature still has to review the budget and they still have to make some decisions on the budget as well."

You can listen to the entire interview by clicking on the audio button.

Goldfarb says it will be up to each department to decide how it will save 3.5%. He says the recommendations will be made public.

It's not yet known how much WIU tuition will increase for incoming freshmen next year. Goldfarb says he wants WIU to be affordable to students, but that becomes more and more difficult every year as the university's expenses increase while state support decreases.

Goldfarb says it's clear the state needs to make a greater commitment to higher education.

"I do think the state really needs to take a look at some sort of revenue enhancement," says Goldfarb. "We have been struggling and suffering for the last decade. I think we are eroding the mission of public universities and I think we've got to stop that erosion."

Goldfarb also says the state still owes WIU $30 million for this fiscal year. He's sure the school will receive the money but does not know when it might come in. Goldfarb is not a fan of a legislative proposal that would allow universities to borrow money for the short-term but he says it might be necessary.

You can see what the Illinois Board of Higher Education has to say about the governor's budget proposal by visiting the IBHE website.

Goldfarb's letter:

Dear WIU Campus Community:

In his public address March 10, Gov. Pat Quinn recommended a FY2011 General Revenue Funds budget of $56.2 million for Western Illinois University, which would result in a $3.7 million decrease from Western's FY2010 appropriations. While legislative hearings will have to be held and the legislature must still pass a budget, it is clear we are facing a difficult fiscal year.

Given the uncertainty of the state's economic condition, I'm asking that departments and divisions begin to plan for a reduced Fiscal Year 2011 budget. Our priorities for FY'11 will be to continue to provide quality academic programs, to implement a cost increase that will allow us to remain affordable for students and families, and to retain faculty and staff.

In order to meet these priorities, I have asked each of the vice presidents to reduce their respective division's total budgets by 3.5 percent for Fiscal Year 2011. Each vice president will meet with their divisions to determine appropriate reductions within their areas. In addition, we will seek input from the campus following the annual report presentations [Thursday, April 29 and Friday, April 30], where each vice president will share cost-saving measures.

In addition, cash flow in the state remains a crisis. Currently, Western is waiting on reimbursements from the State of Illinois totaling $30.3 million. Because of the University's current cash flow situation and the expectation of a decrease in appropriated funding in FY'11, I regret to announce that the Pay for Exceptional Performance program, which would have rewarded meritorius performance, has been put on hold. This decision was based on discussions with the vice presidents and feedback provided by the campus community. Please know that I appreciate the work that has been done to date by participants in this program, and that we are committed to re-establishing the program when the state and University budgets stabilize. The accomplishments performed by program participants will be recorded and archived with the employee's supervisor for consideration when the program is reinstated.

In order to meet our payroll obligations and provide the necessary services to our students, we are continuing to conserve as many resources as possible. All departments are required to limit spending to immediate operational needs only, and we continue to halt numerous events and most travel in an effort to save money. Non-essential vacant positions for the Spring 2010 Semester continue to be held open, and we must now look at the feasibility and viability of leaving some positions open for Fall 2010.

All cash flow and budget-related letters and information, including Gov. Quinn's budget proposal [WIU: Chapter 5-33/34], can be found by visiting wiu.edu and clicking on the "Cash Flow/Budget Information" link in the Highlights section.

Thank you so much for your understanding, cooperation and support.

Al Goldfarb