Fund cuts hurt many campuses

By Sheri Forsell

While NIU has been hit hard by a $3.3 million budget cut, other state universities also are feeling the effects of Gov. James Thompson’s failed tax increase.

The amount each school’s budget was cut varies from the $16 million at University of Illinois to $305,000 at Eastern Illinois University. The Southern Illinois University budget was cut by $5.4 million, while Western Illinois University must adjust to a decrease of $1.6 million.

Debra Miller, the assistant editor of news services at WIU, said the difference in the amount of money cut from each school’s budget is due to the difference in programs offered at the universities and in student population.

Lex Tate, director of university affairs at U of I, said because of the $53 million cut from higher education’s budget, “sadly we (Illinois state schools) are all in the same boat.”

Each school is handling the decrease in funds a little differently, but all are finding scheduling problems and discussing, or already have implemented, a tuition hike.

U of I decided at a board meeting last Thursday to raise its tuition at the Urbana campus $150 for the spring semester and $75 for the second and third quarters at the Chicago campus. Tate said U of I is viewing the tuition increase “as a surcharge because we cannot be sure if this will be permanent until later in the year.”

NIU presently is discussing raising tuition by about $150 spring semester. WIU, EIU and SIU still are discussing the possibility as well.

SIU Budget Director Mike Williams said both the Carbondale campus and the Medical School run on the same budget but took their cuts differently. The Carbondale campus has what they call a “protected salary base,” and the cuts were taken from sources “other than salary.”

Williams said the cuts were not taken necessarily across the board, but each vice president was required to take a cut.

Art Tate, EIU assistant director of university relations, said EIU’s highest priority is the on-campus instructional program. The biggest reductions were in off-campus classes because of the inability to fill vacant positions.

Lex Tate said, “In addition to the $18 million … the university had a $6 million deficit in unavoidable costs, so actually we must deal with a $24 million cut.”

Some of U of I’s “unavoidable costs” are due to the remaining costs of opening a new building on campus. Lex Tate said the raise in tuition is to cover the unavoidable cost.

Lex Tate said the university’s administration took a harder cut than the academic program. The cuts also stopped the planned $6 million to be spent on renovations.

NIU assitant director of budgeting, Richard Lazarski, said the cuts might not have been such a big problem if it would have happened earlier than July. Students and permanent faculty positions were already “locked in.” The people affected the most are those who cannot complete their schedules and the temporary teachers who could not be placed.