WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Crisis of Confidence

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University has seen a sharp drop in student enrollment in recent years, which means less money coming in through tuition and fees.  That, combined with decreases in state financial support – especially during the two-year state budget impasse – hurt the university's finances, leading to layoffs, furloughs, and an early retirement program.

Rich Egger

Leaders at Western Illinois University said they will unveil details about the school's realignment plans on July 16.  They said everything is being evaluated so it's too soon to discuss what might be included in the plans.

TSPR

A few details are emerging about the layoffs at Western Illinois University, which were authorized by the Board of Trustees during a special meeting late last week. A total of two dozen faculty members and two other employees in academic affairs are losing their jobs.

Rich Egger

Two dozen faculty members at Western Illinois University will lose their jobs as the university contends with declines in student enrollment and state financial support.  During a special meeting of Western's Board of Trustees on Thursday, Chair Cathy Early said the university is repositioning itself while remaining fiscally responsible.

Courtesy WIU

Western Illinois University continues to bend the ears of state leaders regarding a major construction project planned for the Macomb campus: the Center for Performing Arts.

The state of Illinois has a budget in place for next fiscal year, which will help public colleges and universities with their planning.  But the president of Western Illinois University said the state appropriation of $47.2 million for WIU falls short of what his school needs.

TSPR Emily Boyer

Western Illinois University will receive $47.2 million under the state's budget for Fiscal Year '19, which begins July 1, 2018.  That reflects a 2% funding increase for public higher education across the state.  WIU President Jack Thomas told Tri States Public Radio that the slight funding increase is helpful following several years of financial uncertainty including the two year state budget impasse. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed Illinois’ budget into law.

The Illinois General Assembly has approved a budget for the state — and Governor Bruce Rauner is indicating he’ll “enact” it into law.

Rich Egger

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees this week held the first of a series of special monthly meetings.  The Board hopes to use the meetings to delve into issues in greater detail than is possible during its regular quarterly meetings, but the first portion of the first monthly meeting turned into forum for community members to speak out.

Screen capture from Boise State University's website

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas was in Idaho Thursday for a job interview. He is a finalist in the search for the next president of Boise State University.

Passing a state budget is arguably the most important thing the Illinois General Assembly does every year — or at least should do every year.

After last year's drama — when a two-year standoff ended with a Republican revolt against Governor Bruce Rauner — it's an open question about how things will go this year.

So I set out to answer a simple question: Will there be another impasse?

Rich Egger

The Board of Trustees at Western Illinois University said it will stand by the administration despite last month's "no confidence" vote by faculty.  65% of faculty members who returned their ballot stated they do not have confidence in the administration.  

TSPR

Western Illinois University faculty members took a vote of "no confidence" in the administrative leadership for the first time. It passed with 65% of those who voted stating they do not have confidence and 33% voting they do.

TSPR Emily Boyer

The Faculty Senate conducted the vote by mail over a two week period and tallied the results Friday.

Rich Egger

Student enrollment dropped 9.1% this spring at Western Illinois University compared to spring of last year.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas gave a State of the University address at the start of the new school year.  At the time, he said the state of the university was "okay." Now, with the fall semester in the books, Dr. Thomas said the school's situation is improving.

TSPR Emily Boyer

Illinois' public colleges and universities have weathered the two year budget impasse and are once again expecting routine state aid payments. As the schools look ahead, they're working to secure their financial footing and publicly rebound from the ordeal.

WIU

The WIU administration blames the uncertainty caused by the two year state budget impasse for this year's drop in enrollment.

WATCH-LISTEN: State Budget Forum - Macomb

Aug 30, 2017

NPR Illinois and Tri States Public Radio host the seventh Illinois Issues Forum on the state's financial health and the lasting impacts of the two-year-long state budget impasse.

Illinois lawmakers have been called back to the capitol a few times this summer to weigh in on big state issues during legislative special sessions.  Tri States Public Radio recently caught up with Senator Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) when she visited to Macomb. She spoke with TSPR about the two biggest votes of the summer so far: the state budget and K-12 school funding.

The State of Western Illinois University

Aug 17, 2017
Rich Egger

The President of Western Illinois University said it's time to put apprehension behind and move forward with enthusiasm and optimism. Dr. Jack Thomas made the remark during Thursday morning's State of the University speech, held just a few days before the new school year begins.

TSPR's Emily Boyer

Western Illinois University has renewed the teaching contracts of more than 100 associate faculty members for the upcoming school year.

TSPR Emily Boyer

Western Illinois University’s received $6.8 million from the state this month. President Jack Thomas said all of the money went to the university's first priority, which is paying employees.

Courtesy WIU

The budget approved by Illinois lawmakers provides Western Illinois University with funding for last fiscal year and the current fiscal year. Now university leaders will decide how to proceed.

After Two Years, Illinois Finally has a Budget

Jul 6, 2017
NPR Illinois

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said a newly approved state budget was the result of bipartisan efforts to end a "destructive" impasse that has gripped state government for more than two years.

Rich Egger (file photo)

The Illinois House passed a spending plan along with a tax hike and revenue plan as politicians try to end the two year budget stalemate.  Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) is one of the Republicans who broke ranks with their party and joined Democrats in supporting the measures.

A few dozen faculty members from Western Illinois University gathered on the steps of Sherman Hall for a group photo on Friday, the eve of Illinois entering a third fiscal year without a state budget. The gathering was organized in an effort to show solidarity and support for the union's  Unit B faculty.

"A Beautiful Implosion" of Higgins Hall

Jul 1, 2017
Jonathan Ahl

It cost Western Illinois University $7.3 million to build Higgins Hall, a residence hall that opened in the fall of 1967.  The university said it would cost around $48 million today to renovate it into a "like-new" facility, so instead the building was imploded Saturday morning during an event that drew hundreds of people to the Macomb campus.

Rich Egger

Members of the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees said President Jack Thomas has done "an admirable job" of steering the university through difficult times brought on by the unprecedented state budget impasse. 

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