CARBONDALE — A week after lawmakers in Springfield inked a $1 billion stopgap budget deal for higher education, Southern Illinois University announced Tuesday that the school will cover grants for low-income students to attend in the upcoming fall semester at the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses.
But facing a decline in state funding and another anticipated enrollment dip this fall, cuts in other areas are inevitable. SIU Chancellor Brad Colwell said in a letter to the campus community that $21 million in permanent savings have been identified.
The cuts include 29 employees whose jobs are being eliminated or reduced to a lower percentage time status, Colwell said.
Of those 29 employees, seven are being laid off. Two civil service employees have been identified for layoff, and five continuing non-tenure-track faculty members have received layoff notices, Colwell’s letter stated.
Another roughly 10 non-tenure-track faculty who were on term appointments for the 2015-16 academic year will not have their appointments renewed for the next academic year.
And about a dozen non-tenure-track faculty will have term appointments in the 2016-17 academic year that are at a lower percentage time status as compared to the previous year, Colwell said.
Colwell also said that 49 pre-school teachers in the Southern Region Early Childhood program received layoff notices, but those notices will be rescinded if, as expected, that state grant is renewed as part of this past week’s legislative action. But Colwell said there continues to be some uncertainty regarding state-funded grants.
In addition, as it relates to staffing, a total of 155 positions — 45 faculty lines and 110 staff lines — will remain unfilled, he said. Colwell said that nearly $10 million of the total budget reductions is the result of the elimination of vacant faculty and staff positions, and 125 half-time graduate assistant positions funded from state accounts, as well as the layoffs and non-renewals previously mentioned.
Colwell said the downsizing efforts have been a “challenging task” but that he believes this plan “protects most positions and academic programs.” The university has been working on a savings plan for months, he said. Each vice chancellor was previously asked to plan for at least a 10 percent cut for his or her area, although they had discretion about how to make the reductions.
“This means that some units, such as academic affairs, may have been asked to cut less than 10 percent, and others, such as athletics, more,” Colwell’s letter stated.
The temporary state budget approved by lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner this past week provides the university with $54 million, plus $5.3 million to cover spring 2016 Monetary Awards Program, or MAP, grants, Colwell said in the letter.
The MAP money lawmakers included is to reimburse universities that fronted funds to students during the previous academic year. It does not provide for funding for MAP grants — issued to Illinois undergraduate students based on financial need — for the upcoming fiscal year.
Still, SIU President Randy Dunn said the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses will cover the costs of those grants for the fall semester of the upcoming academic year.
“Our university has a legacy of access, and we do not want to see eligible students denied the opportunity to pursue their academic and career goals,” Dunn said.
The press release from the university doesn’t address whether SIU will fund map grants for the spring semester if there is no further state funds provided. John Charles, SIU’s director of government and public affairs, said that plans regarding funding for the spring semester MAP grants will be reviewed later this year. Charles said that, hopefully, lawmakers will have approved a full fiscal year 2017 budget by that time.
Fiscal year 2015 was the last year for which SIU received full state funding. Since that time, lawmakers have passed two stopgap budgets for higher education — the one this past week, and one in April.
Between the two, SIU Carbondale is to receive $83.29 million from the state. That is 82 percent of the $101.58 million the campus anticipated based on the last year of full funding, Colwell said.
Examples of other budget reductions that Colwell cited include: $385,000 for library materials; $300,000 for undergraduate research; $500,000 for research centers; and $1.1 million in deferred maintenance. Of the latter item, Colwell said, that “will slow down needed improvements to academic buildings.”
SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said that the administration's hope is that “further reductions will not be needed, but that will depend upon a final state budget and final enrollment figures.” In response to an inquiry from the newspaper, Goldsmith said those numbers are made available on the 10th day of the start of every new semester. Though administrators have said they expect a decline in enrollment, they have not further shed light on how many fewer students they are expecting in Carbondale this fall.
Recruitment efforts continue, Goldsmith said.
“The announcement about advancing fall 2016 MAP grants is part of this effort, as we are hearing that some students are not registering until they have a better picture of MAP grant funding,” she said.