‘Pet projects’ might receive extra funds

By Joelle McGinnis

Extra money from Gov. James Thompson’s proposed higher education budget might be used for NIU “pet projects,” University Professionals of Illinois President Mitchell Vogel said Tuesday.

He said he is not certain exactly what the NIU’s projects are.

Richard Beard, president of the NIU-UPI chapter, said if the governor’s proposed budget for fiscal 1989 is passed more money would be available for NIU.

The proposed fiscal 1989 budget, if passed, would provide $330,900 more for NIU than the fiscal 1988 budget, he said. The 1988 budget was $99,172,800, he said. The proposed 1989 budget is $99,503,700, he said.

Thompson’s proposed budget totals a .3 percent increase over the fiscal 1988 budget, which is $12.1 million less than the Illinois Board of Higher Education budget recommendations.

But NIU administrators have told faculty, without an approved tax increase to continue funding support for higher education, NIU might face a 5 percent budget decrease and work with only 95 percent of the university’s current budget, Beard said.

He said NIU faculty is “alarmed at the kind of tactics in play” with the administration.

NIU Provost Kendall Baker met March 2 with department chairmen, and later faculty meetings were called across campus, Beard said.

During the meetings, “horror story” considerations about the elimination of faculty, special instructors and on- and off-campus programs were discussed, he said.

Baker said there has been no discussion of faculty or on- and off-campus program cuts.

He said the meeting called with the department chairmen was part of a normal procedure he has instituted to provide communication.

During the meeting “questions came up about the university budget. I indicated that if put in the position of putting salary increases in a budget not receiving an increase, other university operational costs would have to be reduced,” he said.

“If more money is proposed, why is the administration scaring the devil out of department chairmen, who in turn scare faculty with talk of possible cuts?” he said.

“We feel we deserve an explanation why all the scare tactics are being used. It is not good for morale on campus,” Beard said.

He said there is a growing fear NIU might not be able to retain instructors if further budget cuts must be made.

Baker said the Board of Regents passed a resolution for NIU to develop ways to provide salary increases.

“Because of the budgeting process we went through last fall, departments prepared 95 percent budgets, so we would have at least an idea what collegiate budgets would be like,” he said.