Cuts, weather freeze NIU hiring

By Sean McClellan

The prediction of an exceptionally cold winter has sent hiring at NIU into another deep freeze.

The cold weather forecast coupled with a drop in student enrollment and the possibility of further budget cuts from the state has brought about a continuation of a faculty hiring freeze currently in place at NIU.

The planet’s largest volcanic eruption this century has forecasters predicting an unseasonably cold winter, and NIU President John La Tourette predicting large heating bills.

“This may not be a normal year,” La Tourette said in a letter to NIU administrators. “We have stretched our budget to the limit”.

Officials have renewed a hiring freeze to help build a contingency fund of $900,000 to cover for these possible events. The amount represents about 1 percent of NIU’s state budget and will be holed away to cover the possibility of a midyear state cut.

“It is important that we plan for these contingencies,” said La Tourette.

However, faculty openings are to be filled and a full contingent of courses will be offered, La Tourette said.

To help each division meet its targets, all hiring on the non-instructional level for this school year must be approved by the division vice president and also must be reported to La Tourette.

Vacancies in administrative positions, which includes program coordinators, counselors and assistant deans as well as directors and associate vice presidents, must receive approval on the presidential level before a vacancy can even be advertised.

Fiscal year 1992, which ended June 30, taught lessons that still are new at all Illinois public universities.

Last year, cuts at NIU reached $3.8 million, including $2.7 million from a midyear recision. The rest came from reduced funding at the start of the fiscal year in July 1991.

“But it’s even worse than that,” added Anne Kaplan, executive assistant to La Tourette. “Over the past two years, we have seen our general revenue appropriations cut a total of $6.8 million, which is more than NIU received from the $6.4 million gained from the 1989 tax boost.”

During a budget examination last semester, NIU decided to cut $720,000 in intercollegiate athletics budgets over the next three years and reduce enrollment by 600 students this fall.

Administrative costs also are being reduced over a two-year period by $1.2 million. “It is virtually impossible to manage a budget reduction without controlling personnel costs,” Kaplan said.