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 impasse 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.
 

Courtesy WIU

Western Illinois University has been making headlines for decreasing enrollment, employee layoffs, and program cuts. Yet, some students are still drawn to Western. A few of them are even willing to travel a great distance to attend WIU.

Rich Egger

Members of Western Illinois University's new Board of Trustees barely got to introduce themselves to each other before holding their first meeting.  And even though they are just getting to know each other, one of their first tasks was to elect a new chairperson.

Rich Egger

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is cleaning house at Western Illinois University. Pritzker said he is appointing seven new people to the eight member Board of Trustees.  The only holdover is student Justin Brown. Student members are elected to the board by fellow students.

Time for a Change of Direction and Leadership

Mar 17, 2019
Western Illinois University

This is a Commentary.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

Basic Premises

It has become clear to many retired Western Illinois University (WIU) employees, as well as many current employees and alumni, and Macomb/McDonough County community members, that our university is facing unprecedented problems. 

WIU Supporters Deliver "Buy Into Western" Petition; Governor Responds

Mar 15, 2019
Photo of the group taken in the Rotunda / Austin Thompson with TnT Video

Supporters of Western Illinois University traveled to Springfield Thursday to hand deliver a petition to the governor's office. The governor was out of town at the time, but he did address it and the university during a visit to Quincy.

Rich Egger

The latest audio recordings of illegal discussions held by Western Illinois University's administration and Board of Trustees garned significant conversation during the most recent Faculty Senate meeting.

Rich Egger

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees held closed door meetings with the administration on June 1, 2018 and June 7, 2018. Many of the issues discussed during those meetings should have been talked about in public, as per the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA).

Courtesy WIU

Western Illinois University's Provost Office released final recommendations to the Board of Trustees on Thursday regarding which academic programs should be eliminated.

Emily Boyer / Tri States Public Radio

A large crowd gathered late Wednesday afternoon in front of Western Illinois University's main administrative building on the Macomb campus.

Faculty, students, staff, and community members huddled on the steps of Sherman Hall in the cold, chanting, and waving signs with messages such as "Faculty is committed to WIU,"  "Teaching makes admin jobs possible," and "Fight for our families." The group was there for a rally in support of the 132 employees who received layoff notices on March 1.

Courtesy WIU

Organizers of the Buy into Western Illinois University petition drive feel their effort has taken on greater urgency in the aftermath of the latest round of layoffs at the institution.  Western sent 132 layoff notices to faculty and staff from across the university on March 1. 

Emily Boyer / TSPR

Western Illinois University emailed layoff notices on Friday to 132 employees, which is about 8% of the total workforce.

Western Illinois University

There is a list of 18 academic programs at Western Illinois University being considered for elimination. A report reviewing each of them has been turned over to the administration and decisions are expected soon.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University has laid off workers and eliminated vacant positions the past few years as it grappled with declines in revenues and student enrollment.  Yet the administration found the money to create a well-paid temporary position for one of its own.

Rich Egger

According to figures collected and released by Western Illinois University, student enrollment dropped again this spring. Enrollment at the Macomb campus for the Spring 2019 semester is down about 900 students, or 14% compared to Spring 2018. Western reported a total of 5,645 students taking classes in Macomb this semester.

Rich Egger

New Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has said he will prioritize funding for the state's colleges and universities.  Nonetheless, the Western Illinois University administration has said more deep budget cuts might be necessary.

Rich Egger/Emily Boyer

Western Illinois University's Fact Book shows the school's workforce decreased around 12% in the past four years – from 2,403 employees in the fall of 2015 to 2,113 this fall.  The decrease can be attributed to layoffs, resignations, attrition, and early retirement programs.  Tri States Public Radio spoke with three WIU employees who received layoff notices to learn how they're doing now.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas has delayed an announcement on budget cuts.  But he is warning that deep cuts are still necessary.

Western Illinois University

Two more members of the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees say they will be leaving the board.

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees (BoT) has lost another member, and it appears as though his resignation is nearly two years late.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University's Faculty Senate is asking the university's Board of Trustees (BoT) to make public numereous closed door meeting minutes and audio recordings. The request comes after the BoT was found to have violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA). 

Rich Egger

In an email and web post titled "Budget Update," Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas announced on Thursday that the university is in a structural budget deficit and expenditures are outpacing revenues. Dr. Thomas said that as a result, WIU plans to cut $5 million from this year’s budget and a total of $21 million from the budget for Fiscal Year 2020, which begins July 1, 2019.

Rich Egger

The recording of a closed door meeting held by the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees reveals board members repeatedly violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA).

TSPR

Dr. Kathy Neumann served as Western Illinois University's interim provost for more than three years before the school announced this week that she will be leaving the position.  She previously served as Dean of the College of Business and Technology at Western.

TSPR

Western Illinois University is considering whether to eliminate more academic programs as it continues to grapple with falling student enrollment numbers and looks to get back on solid financial footing.

Rich Egger

Almost everything the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees discussed during a closed door meeting on June 28, 2018 must be made public, according to the Illinois Attorney General's office, which found [.pdf] the Board violated the state's Open Meetings Act (OMA).

Rich Egger

More members of the public are asking the decision-makers at Western Illinois University to restore funding to its public radio station. Half-a-dozen people used the public comment period during the September 28 Board of Trustees meeting to address the administration's plan to end appropriated funding for Tri States Public Radio on March 1, 2019.

Rich Egger

Tri States Public Radio filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Western Illinois University, hoping to gain more insight about how the administration came to the decision to zero-out appropriated funding for TSPR beginning March 1, 2019.

Winners and Losers As Illinois Universities Report Fall Enrollment

Sep 13, 2018

Illinois’ public universities have finished tallying up their student bodies for the new school year, and once again it’s a mix of winners and losers.

TSPR

Student enrollment at Western Illinois University this fall is down 10% from last year with a total student enrollment of 8,502 for both the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses.

TSPR

Western Illinois University is still trying to secure its financial footing due to the two-year state budget impasse and declining student enrollment. President Jack Thomas has said repeatedly that everything is on the table when it comes to making cost saving measures. But it turns out there is one exception:  the furlough program.

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