Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas told a standing room only crowd in the University Union that WIU takes pride in having avoided layoffs and furloughs despite the state’s financial woes over the past decade.
WIU Budget Director Matt Bierman said employees can play a role in making sure such drastic actions are not needed in the coming years by providing ideas on how the university can save money.
“We’re asking the campus to help us. What are areas we can cut in order to keep avoiding those? Where else are they seeing waste or areas where we can reduce or right-size?” said Bierman.
Bierman said WIU has gone from being state supported to being state assisted to being state located. He said Western received $64.3 million from the state in Fiscal Year 2002. This year it’s receiving $52.1 million – despite rising costs – and the governor’s budget calls for a further cut in Fiscal Year 2014, which begins July 1, 2013. On top of that, it’s possible some of the pension burden will be shifted to local governments and institutions such as WIU.
In addition, WIU is still owed $38 million in state appropriations and $5.6 million in MAP grants for the current school year.
President Thomas said it’s every university worker’s responsibility to help with student recruitment and retention. He said each student makes a difference in Western’s finances.
Thomas said the university will not lower its academic standards as it tries to bring in more students.
“As a matter of fact, there is a proposal to increase our academic standards here,” Thomas said.
Total enrollment at WIU was 13,754 in 1995; now it’s 12,205.
Thomas said “the whole state is at a critical point” when it comes to finances. He said administrators decided to hold public session at the Union to present a clear picture to faculty and staff.