Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
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 Leaders Create New Administrative Positions While Eliminating other Jobs on Campus

Rich Egger
Sherman Hall is the administration building at WIU.

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.

The position is being filled by Kathy Neumann, who served as WIU’s interim provost the past several years.

Neumann left that job at the end of December. But she did not return to her previous job as Dean of the College of Business and Technology or go back to the classroom. Instead, the administration offered her the temporary position of Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs. 

The six-month contract was offered to Neumann on December 21. She signed it on January 9. 

The pay is $15,750 per month, which adds up to $94,500 if she serves the full allotted time for the position. It is the same amount being paid per month to Billy Clow, who replaced Neumann as interim provost.

Neumann’s contract states her responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Institutional research and planning
  • Enterprise resource planning
  • Other mutually agreed upon special projects

Tri States Public Radio asked University Relations if someone from the administration would be interested in talking to us about the position.  Our request was declined.
So we don’t know specifically what Neumann is working on and we did not get to ask why a new administrative position was created at a time when so many other jobs at Western are being eliminated. 

Story update:  A Western Illinois University spokesperson confirmed that Kathy Neumann is retiring.  The announcement comes on the heels of Tri States Public Radio’s report on her temporary position. Today (Thursday, February 28) will be  Neumann’s final day at Western.

The creation of a new position during a time of fiscal crisis seems to run contrary to the FY19 Budget Procedures Update issued on August 23, 2018, which included this passage regarding personnel:

  • For the remainder of this fiscal year, the University will maintain a hiring freeze with the exception of positions that are essential to University operations without sacrificing critical service levels and commitments made to students.
  • Any position that becomes vacant during the year must be evaluated before being filled, regardless of fund sources (excluding grant accounts). All essential position requests must have Presidential approval.
  • To conserve cash, all non-essential positions are expected to remain vacant for the remainder of the fiscal year. These positions will be reevaluated for Fiscal Year 2020.
  • Transfers are not allowed between personnel and operating budgets.

The Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs is not the first newly created administrative position at WIU in recent years.
The president’s office added a Chief of Staff position at a time when the state was mired in what proved to be a two-year state budget impasse.  Higher education received little state funding during that period but Paul Schlag was hired in October, 2016 to serve as Chief of Staff to WIU President Jack Thomas.  Schlag’s current pay is $120,000.

Meanwhile, more cuts at WIU are possible this week. The administration has saidit must slash $5 million in spending for the remainder of this fiscal year and $21 million for next year. Details are how those cost savings will be realized -- including layoffs – are expected on Friday, March 1.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.