University officials address budget crisis with spending goal

By Lindsey Salvatelli

DeKALB — University officials plan to focus on three revenue sources to reach the goal of $20 million in increased revenue and spending reductions that would be required if a state budget isn’t passed.

State lawmakers are struggling to agree upon a budget for the third year in a row. As a result, university officials have been forced to explore budget reductions to fill the $35 million gap that would allow NIU to maintain “adequate reserves” for Fiscal Year 2018, according to an April 4 Campus Update.

President Doug Baker released a Baker Report April 28 in which he said “division leadership had found places to trim” spending by approximately $15 million.

Larry Pinkelton, associate vice president for Finance and Budget, said the university was able to reach its goal of $15 million by restructuring service hours and deciding if job vacancies left by those who have passed away or retired need to be filled.

The three areas officials have looked to meet the additional $20 million needed to reach its goal will come from alumni donors, the leasing of buildings the university no longer uses and increasing base enrollments, Pinkelton said.

“We don’t want to take the pressure off the state legislator,” Pinkelton said.

The status of funding for students who receive Monetary Award Program grants remains unknown. Students were credited for their spring MAP grants, which are awarded to students based upon financial need, although state funding for the grants has not been secured.

“We took a 48 percent operating budget cut this year, and we don’t have MAP funding,” Baker said during Wednesday’s University Council meeting. “We’ve lost $43 million in operating [budget] this year and $18 [million] in MAP funding.”

Faculty and staff members have already been alerted about the “impact of the reductions on their individual employment,” and the university plans to let others know about the termination of their employment this month, according to the April 28 report.

Spokesperson Joe King said Friday that officials planned to “release a communication” about additional faculty layoffs but held the release due to a “last minute change.”