WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Crisis of Confidence

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.

WIU Renews Non-Tenure Track Teacher Contracts

Jul 28, 2017
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.

Western Faculty Take Photo in Solidarity

Jul 3, 2017

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. 

Rich Egger

State spending on public higher education in Illinois has dropped precipitously during the past two years as the state has operated without a budget.  But the president of Western Illinois University said the school will not allow itself to be bogged down by the budget stalemate.

WIU Delays Decisions About Fall Staffing Levels

Jun 1, 2017
Rich Egger

Western Illinois University is taking a wait-and-see approach to renewing the contracts of some of its professors for the fall semester. The decision follows the Illinois Legislature adjourning the spring legislative session without passing a state budget. Illinois is wrapping up the second fiscal year without a comprehensive spending plan.

The Illinois General Assembly ended its annual legislative session Wednesday night without agreeing on a state budget.

Top Democrats and Republicans blamed each other, reflecting the main political divide in Springfield that has played out over the two yearlong budget impasse. But this spring's budget failure exposed an additional set of fault lines -- among Democrats.

Rich Egger

Higher education has been among the areas feeling the pain from the state budget impasse in Illinois as funding has been cut.  It has forced some schools to reduce classes, lay off employees, and, in some cases, close for several days. 

College professors across Illinois will step away from their classrooms to rally in Springfield on Thursday, April 27. The event called Teach Out for Illinois Higher Education is in response to the state budget stalemate.

Rich Egger

A Western Illinois University administrator said the school has enough money to make it through the Spring semester. But he's not saying much about the contingency plan WIU is developing in case the ongoing shortfall of state funding continues.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University is continuing to urge state lawmakers to approve a new state budget that adequately funds higher education.

WIU Student Enrollment Dips Below 10K

Feb 20, 2017
TSPR

There are 9,469 students enrolled at Western Illinois University this spring semester. It's the first time this century Western's student body has dropped below 10,000.

Rich Egger

The state of Illinois has gone 18 months without a budget.  And the stop gap spending plan is about to expire with no new deal in sight.

Rich Egger

The Illinois Board of Higher Education agreed to provide additional financial support to three public universities.  The $20 million comes from the state's stop-gap funding measure.

Rich Egger

Time is winding down on Illinois' stop-gap spending measure, which expires in early January. But many state lawmakers are in campaign mode so nothing is being done to complete a full budget for Illinois.

The 93rd Illinois House District includes one public university and two community colleges.  Incumbent Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) believes she's served higher education well and she's running for a fourth term. Her Democratic opponent John Curtis believes the state should be doing a better job of supporting higher education and thinks he can help reverse course on the trend of declining state aid.

WIU Fall Enrollment Down; Freshman Class Stable

Sep 13, 2016
TSPR

Western Illinois University's fall student enrollment is down 6.5% compared to last year. Western welcomed more than 10,373 students to campus this fall. That’s 721 students fewer than last year.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas said the state's stop-gap spending measure helped the university for the fall semester, but he cautioned it's not designed to get any of the state's public universities through the entire fiscal year. 

Tri States Public Radio

Illinois' ongoing budget impasse and recent funding cuts to Western Illinois University haven't hurt the enthusiasm of some new students as they begin their college education.

Western Looks to Boost Fundraising Efforts

Jul 27, 2016
TSPR's Emily Boyer

As state financial support continues to decline for Illinois' public colleges and universities, Western Illinois University wants to bulk up another revenue stream.  But Illinois' budget uncertainty is making it difficult. 

Rich Egger

John Miller, President of the University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100, said the six month spending plan passed by lawmakers and signed by the governor was poorly done and is not even a true budget. And he said it amounts to another cut for higher education.

Western to Recall Some Laid Off Employees

Jul 18, 2016
TSPR

Western Illinois University sent lay off notices to more than 100 employees in April as part of a cost cutting measure to cope with a drastic decrease in state aid.  More than half of them will be asked to come back to work for the fall semester.          

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