Deans working on budget cuts

By Morgan Fink

Leaders exploring employee reductions

DeKALB — Department leaders are in the process of evaluating their respective programs and determining ways to reduce their staffs.

President Doug Baker gave budgetary goals to department heads and each college’s dean amid concerns of not receiving state appropriations for Fiscal Year 2018. State lawmakers are struggling to agree upon a budget for the third year in a row. If the university does not receive state appropriations, a gap of $35 million will have to be filled to maintain “adequate reserves,” according to an April 4 campus update.

Baker said in the update that furloughs, or mandated unpaid leaves of absence, are not being considered. They are not the best option in solving the financial crisis because they don’t provide long-term solutions, said Spokesperson Joe King.

“The next option is to look at permanent eliminations of positions because temporary elimination isn’t an option at this time,” King said.

While payroll for faculty has fallen by about six percent, decreasing the amount of employees at the university is still being considered because employment costs make up 50 percent of NIU’s budget, according to the update.

Those being considered for cutbacks include professional staff, operating staff and buildings and grounds staff. Tenured faculty members are “very safe,” King said. However, as faculty members leave, department leaders are evaluating whether the positions need to be refilled.

“The vice president is looking into our books and whether we can cut spending or cut people, whatever we need to do to make those savings,” King said.

Deans and department heads are looking into how these cuts can be implemented. If there are still ways to reduce spending without eliminating staff members, those options are being explored, but if not, leaders may have to look into staff reductions, King said. The deans and department heads will report their recommendations to Baker, who will then announce them to the campus community.

Miguel Espinoza, sophomore computer science major, said the cutbacks are not a big concern for him.

“If this is the only option available, I like that [the cuts] provide better means for the students and benefit us,” Espinoza said. “Baker chose the best option for us.”

Other money-saving options being considered by officials include selling university assets such as campus property, merging programs and seeking funding from Huskie benefactors, according to the update.

“All of the deans and department heads are going to go back and look at their programs and decide what is appropriate,” Baker said in the report. “We are at an advantage because we have been going through the Program Prioritization process, so we have gathered a lot of data over the last couple of years.”

News Editor Madison Kacer contributed to this story. She can be reached at