Western Illinois University administrators unveiled a plan to save $4.5 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2013.
The biggest cut will come in personnel. Provost Ken Hawkinson said 26 vacant positions will not be filled. In addition, two chair positions will be left open, travel budgets will be slashed, and the entire budget has been dropped for on-line course development.
President Jack Thomas said WIU will continue to avoid layoffs and furloughs, though it’s not known how long that can continue.
“We will do it as long as we can. Right now, as you see with the cuts that we are having, we are using the attrition dollars from the positions that are vacant,” Thomas said.
Despite the staff reductions, Dr Thomas said WIU will continue offering all the courses students need. He said adjunct professors and temporary workers could be brought in to help handle the load.
That idea did not sit well with John Miller, Chapter President, University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100.
“We have research that will demonstrate that tenure track faculty members – which is where they want to cut – are the ones that have more time to develop relationships with the students. And the development of those relationships with those students is what helps those students succeed,” Miller said.
Miller is calling on state lawmakers to close corporate loopholes, which he said could bring in $1 billion. He also said numerous studies show that states that invest in higher education develop stronger economies.
The cuts announced Tuesday will help WIU cover the cost of pay raises that have already been negotiated. More cuts might be required if the state decides to further reduce its funding of higher education.
Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn their session at the end of the month.