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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 appropriations resulted in significant budget cuts, employee furloughs, and layoffs.

A Breakdown: 62 Positions Slated for Elimination at WIU

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Rich Egger
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Western Illinois University announced in June plans to lay off two dozen faculty members and eliminate another 62 positions that are either vacant or soon to become vacant.  Tri States Public Radio previously reported a breakdown of the faculty layoffs. But, we're just now learning more about the 62 positions slated for elimination.  The data comes from Western's response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

When the Fiscal Year 2018 budget went into effect a little more than a year ago, only five of the 62 positions were vacant.  The administration has said the remaining 57 people are retiring from Western or have left or plan to leave for another job (the FY '19 budget is not yet available on Western’s website).

The administration said its plan to eliminate the vacant or soon-to-be-vacant positions is part of the university’s realignment and is designed to save money. Interim Academic Provost Dr. Kathy Neumann told Tri States Public Radio the 62 positions span all five of Western’s academic colleges.

The highest number of positions lost in a single department was four. Departments losing four positions:

  • Art – (2 associate professors, and 2 professors)
  • Curriculum and Instruction – (2 assistant professors, and 2 professors)
  • The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs – (2 faculty assistants, 1 professor, and 1 small business director)
  • Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration – (1 instructor, 1 assitant professor, and 1 associate professor, 1 professor)

Departments losing three positions:

  • Computer Sciences – (1 instructor, 1 assistant professor, and 1 professor)
  • Education and Human Services – (1 associate professor, 1 assistant professor, and one other who was unidentifable by the information provided by the university)
  • Kinesiology – (1 instructor, 1 assistant professor, and 1 associate professor)
  • Management and Marketing (3 assistant professors)
  • Math – (1 instructor, 1 associate professor, and 1 professor)

Departments losing two positions:

  • Business and Technology – (1 associate professor and 1 professor)
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders – (1 faculty assistant and 1 assistant professor)
  • Economics and Decision Sciences – (1 assistant professor and one other who was unidentfiable)
  • Engineering technology – (1 instructor and 1 professor)
  • English – (1 instructor and 1 associate professor)
  • Libraries – (1 instructor and 1 professor)
  • Psychology – (2 professors)

Departments losing one position:

  • Accounting and Finance – (1 professor)
  • Biological Sciences – (1 associate professor)
  • Broadcasting and Journalism – (1 professor)
  • Chemistry – (1 instructor)
  • Communication – (1 instructor)
  • Health Sciences and Social Work – (1 assistant professor)
  • Music – (1 associate professor)
  • Political Science – (1 professor)
  • Sociology and Anthropology – (1 associate professor)
  • Theatre and Dance – (1 associate professor)

Additionally, two academic advisors, an assistant vice president in the provost’s office, three employees in University Technology, and one in IT will see their positions eliminated.
According to the fiscal year 2018 budget, eliminating these 62 positions will save the university more than $4.6  million a year.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.