CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University will lose 180 faculty members and staffers and reduce or eliminate support for a bevy of programs and services if Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed 20 percent cut to public higher education holds muster in fiscal year 2017.
In total, cuts to the Carbondale campus amount to $22.86 million. The SIU system, which includes the Edwardsville campus and the Springfield-based School of Medicine, would see $46.54 million in reductions and a total loss of 481 positions, not including student jobs and graduate assistantships.
President Randy Dunn announced the potential cost reductions in an email to employees Wednesday afternoon — one day before he is scheduled to testify to the impact of proposed funding cuts before an Illinois Senate appropriations committee.
“If nothing changes on the political front any time soon — and we don’t plan for reduction actions today to stem our own tide of red ink — SIU will find itself poised on its own fiscal cliff in not that many more months down the line,” Dunn said. “I didn’t sign on to let that happen.”
In addition to the 180 layoffs, which amount to a $5.5 million savings, university officials also would:
• Eliminate academic programs and reduce the number of classes offered by 400. That decrease in options, administrators note, could increase the time it takes students to graduate
• Eliminate more than 300 student jobs, including on-campus jobs and assistantships for graduate students. The cuts comprise 7 percent of existing student employment opportunities
• Merge four colleges into two, eliminating two deans and support staffers in the process
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• Cut men’s and women’s tennis
• Reduce hours at Morris Library, closing the building on Saturday and reducing journal acquisitions by 40 percent
• Reduce funding for counseling services, retention efforts and programs that benefit underserved populations
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• Reduce state support of WSIU-TV to the tune of nearly $200,000
• Eliminate state funding for Touch of Nature, University Press, University Museum and the Center for Dewey Studies
• Reduce funding by nearly $900,000 for student research opportunities, including less support for 23 research centers and institutes
SIU has 3,151 full-time employees and 401 part-time employees, according to a recent staff list.
Administrators have not yet identified which employees specifically would be laid off. That will require a review of teaching loads for tenured and tenure-track faculty.
SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said some teaching loads could be increased in order to reduce the need for adjunct faculty, but those decisions would have to be made on a department-by-department basis.
Goldsmith and Dunn stressed union contracts and bargaining schedules will be honored. Programs will be taught out prior to being cut.
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“Nothing you see of these reductions should be read as intending to contravene any required steps for winding down program operations,” he said in the email.
Dunn noted SIU already has saved more than $4 million by not filling 80 positions left vacant this year.
It’s been more than eight months since SIU and other public colleges and universities have received any state funding. Dunn has said SIU can hobble through to the end of the fiscal year without a payment, but the lack of funding will leave a lasting impact.
“If we end up seeing no budget at all in these remaining months of FY16, it will take us years to get those paybacks done,” he said, referring specifically to the internal borrowing the university has had to do this year.
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In the “almost-unbelievable event” that lawmakers fail to pass an FY17 budget until after the November election, Dunn said the university can expect $5.72 million in additional cuts to carry the university through Dec. 31, including elimination of all state support to the School of Law and to the vice chancellor for development and alumni relations.
One-third of the School of Law’s budget is derived from state support. Eliminating those funds from the vice chancellor’s office could result in the loss of 50 additional jobs. Administrators warned private support for SIU may wane if that office’s size is diminished.