WIUM Tristates Public Radio

WIU: Crisis of Confidence

The "Crisis of Confidence" series is a multi-year effort by the Tri States Public Radio to document the impact the two-year state budget impass had on Western Illinois University and the ongoing recovery efforts at WIU.

State support for public higher education institutions has been steadily declining in Illinois for more than a decade. But the issue was compounded, during the state's historic two-year budget impasse during Fiscal Years '16 and '17 which left public colleges and universities with little state financial support.

At Western Illinois University, that drastic cut in state approprations  resulted in significant budget cuts, employee furloughs, and layoffs.
 

Rich Egger

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees endorsed the efforts of school President Jack Thomas by unanimously agreeing to extend his contract. Dr. Thomas will remain president at least through the 2016-17 fiscal year, which begins July 1.  

TSPR

Just a few weeks remain in the fiscal year and Western Illinois University is preparing to wrap up the books without much financial support from the state.

The university received only about 30% of its regular state appropriations. When that round of funding was announced in April, there was hope more money would soon follow.  But, Illinois lawmakers wrapped up the spring legislative session without passing a state spending plan for this year or next.

Illinois' budget crisis will continue, unabated. The regular, spring session came to an end Tuesday night, without any resolution to the stalemate that has the state entering its twelfth month without a complete spending plan. There's no plan for next year, either.

TSPR

Western Illinois University’s administration wants to eliminate four academic majors due to declining student enrollment. Those majors are African American Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies and Women’s Studies.

Rich Egger

Even though the school year is over at Western Illinois University, the Macomb community is still rallying for higher education funding.  About 50 people -- including Western faculty, staff and a few students -- gathered alongside members of the community for a demonstration that started in Chandler Park.

Rich Egger

Jerry Tyson has been cutting hair since 1955. And his single-chair barbershop – aptly named The Barbershop – has been providing  haircuts and shaves near downtown Macomb since the early 1980s.

Emily Boyer

Members of the University Professionals of Illinois chapter at Western Illinois University voted overwhelmingly to defer 3% of their compensation for the next two years. They also agreed to pass up a negotiated 1% salary increase.

Rich Egger

147 employees are losing their jobs as WIU grapples with a drastic decrease in state support for the current fiscal year and uncertain funding for the coming year.

Brian Mackey

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 2059 Monday morning. The bill provides a short-term appropriation to the state’s colleges and universities.

Rich Egger

Illinois lawmakers have passed bipartisan legislation to allocate $600-million to higher education. Governor Bruce Rauner is expected to sign the measure.

Under the deal, Western Illinois University would receive about $15-million worth of state appropriations and another $5-million in reimbursements for covering MAP grant funding for low-income students this school year.

Sarah Mueller

Illinois lawmakers have approved a $600 million short-term funding infusion for higher education institutions that have been struggling financially due to not receiving state money during the state budget impasse.  

Illinois university presidents were stunned last night as the funding measure they thought would provide the first state funds in almost a year suddenly disappeared.

Illinois colleges and universities have gone without state money since last summer.

Students Lead Rally at WIU

Apr 19, 2016
Rich Egger

About three dozen Western Illinois University students and staff members marched across campus Tuesday to advocate for state funding of higher education.  The demonstration was put on by students and was done in support of faculty and staff who face furloughs and layoffs.

Rich Egger

The University Professionals of Illinois, which represents many faculty and some other workers at Western Illinois University, announced a deferred compensation agreement with the administration that will help the university save money the next two fiscal years.

Rich Egger

In a letter to the campus community, WIU President Jack Thomas said around 110 university workers will receive layoff notices within the next week.

John Curtis for State Representative

John Curtis of Macomb, who's running as a Democrat for state representative, said it’s a critical error to underfund higher education.

Solidarity March and Rally in Macomb

Mar 31, 2016
Rich Egger

Around 150 people took to the streets late Thursday afternoon to demonstrate their support for Western Illinois University and the city of Macomb.

Rich Egger

State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) said securing funding for higher educations is her biggest legislative priority right now. She applauds the state’s community colleges and four-year universities for standing behind MAP grants for students this year, and added that she doesn’t want the schools to struggle to get through the summer and fall.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University Budget Director Matt Bierman said the school will achieve savings beginning next fiscal year thanks to the early retirement incentive package offered late last fall.

Struggling Illinois Universities Testify Before Lawmakers

Mar 11, 2016
TSPR

Higher education in Illinois has been caught in a continuing battle over the budget. Public universities have struggled to make ends meet without any state aid in the first eight months of this fiscal year.

TSPR

Moody's Investor Services downgraded Western Illinois University's bond rating to BAA3 last fall, and now Moody's has confirmed that rating after a recent review of the school's finances.

Higher education continues to be caught in Illinois lawmakers' political crossfire.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University said its plan requiring non-negotiated administrative employees to take unpaid days off the will save $4 million.  The furlough days will begin next month and continue through June 30, which is the end of the fiscal year.

Rich Egger

The administration announced the cuts mid-afternoon Friday.  The cuts will take place over the next two fiscal years, beginning July 1, 2016.  In addition, the university will make additional cuts for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

Rich Egger

Representatives from across the higher education spectrum gathered at Western Illinois University in Macomb to urge the state to provide funding for colleges and universities. But just hours afterward, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a measure (SB 2043) that would have funded MAP grants and provided at least a bit of income for the schools.

Rich Egger

Roughly 200 people marched through the Western Illinois University campus Tuesday afternoon.  They wanted to make a public statement about their dissatisfaction with decision-makers in Springfield.

Rich Egger

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees voted 5-to-1 during a special meeting Monday to authorize staff reductions for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016.  Staff cuts are just one part of Western's plan for cutting spending by roughly $10 million due to declines in enrollment and state financial support.

Jonathan Ahl

The Western Illinois University administration has met with employee groups several times in the past week, trying to find a way to save money while also saving jobs.

Rich Egger

A coalition of education, labor, and non-profit organizations is urging the governor and legislative leaders to cut the cost of higher education for students by providing more funding for its colleges and universities.

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