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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.

WIU Names New Interim Provost; Faculty Delays No Confidence Resolution


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.

Neumann plans to step down from the post at the end of the calendar year. She will spend the spring semester working on special projects for the university and ultimately transition back to the classroom to teach computer science. 

Neumann told the Faculty Senate she feels it’s time for a change.

“This has been a very difficult decision for me because I have truly appreciated the opportunity to work on the multitude of the current issues facing academic affairs,” Neumann said. "While my energy and passion for serving the university remain unabated I have come to the reluctant conclusion that it’s time for me to pass the baton on to new leadership so that the discussions about how to move the institution forward can continue in a positive and constructive manner.”

The university’s announcementcame a day before the Faculty Senate was scheduled to consider a resolution [.pdf] critical of the administration’s actions regarding academic realignment.

The resolution stated the realignment plan released over the summerdid not include faculty input and that the administration had failed to provide evidence that the proposed changes would result in cost savings or increased student enrollment.

According to the Faculty Senate's constitution, it is required to be governed by referenda such as the no confidence vote. As a result, the resolution said that the Faculty Senate would not approve realignment plans imposed by an administration that had received a vote of no confidence from faculty last spring.

But the resolution was ultimately tabled without discussion given news that Neumann will be stepping down. Billy Clow, who has served as Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at Western since July 2012, will be the new interim provost.

A national search for Western’s next provost is underway. Faculty Senate Chair Christopher Pynes said the committee is larger than normal with 25 voting members [.pdf]. That includes nine people hand-selected by President Jack Thomas, which Pynes said is three times as many members as a university president typically appoints.

Faculty still have a majority on the search committee.

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