Eastern prepares for budget cuts with layoffs

Stephanie Markham, Editor-in-Chief

Eastern will begin laying off employees to offset impending budget cuts from the state and low enrollment beginning in July, according to an email President David Glassman sent to faculty and staff at about 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Glassman states in the email that the number of people who will be laid off has not been determined and a list of names has not been developed.

He also states in the email that supervisors will begin notifying individuals if they will be laid off in July.

Ann Fritz, the president of Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois, said her union members have been in contact with UPI Local 4100, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and incoming leadership of Eastern’s UPI chapter.

“We have already lost so many valued coworkers that it is hard to bear the prospect of further losses to the EIU community,” Fritz said in an email shared with employees. “And it goes without saying that cuts to higher education are bad for Illinois.

She said they would be meeting with Glassman next week to discuss the layoffs.

“We have not yet received official information on the breadth and depth of the proposed cuts,” Fritz said in the email. “We just know the stated reasons for them—enrollment numbers and state funding.”

In Glassman’s email, he credits the decision to lay off employees to the uncertainty of the level of budget cuts from the state.

The email cites that Eastern would have a deficit of $12 million to $14 million based on the General Assembly’s proposed 6.5 percent cut to appropriations “if no changes in university expenses are made this year over last year’s expenditures.”

It also cites that Gov. Bruce Rauner initially proposed a 31.5 percent decrease, which puts the total appropriation decrease for Eastern between $2.7 million and $12.9 million.

“The deficit could become substantially higher depending upon the final appropriation level,” Glassman stated in the email. “With virtually no reserve funds to call upon as we balance this year’s budget, we have no alternative but to identify actions to enhance revenues and implement expense-cutting initiatives, including layoffs.”

The Board of Trustees approved a preliminary budget Friday of about $172 million for Eastern to spend in fiscal year 2016, but the budget could change depending on Rauner’s final call on higher education funding.

The fiscal year begins Wednesday.

The email also credits the need to decrease expenses with enrollment issues, such as an overall enrollment decline because of large junior and senior classes graduating despite a potential stabilization of freshman enrollment.

Glassman states in his email that he has been meeting with leaders of shared governance groups and other constituents to discuss Eastern’s financial position.

The email also states Glassman has worked with the vice presidents to review budgets and manage the fiscal year 2016 budget through cutting expenses as well as “entrepreneurial revenue-producing plans.”

The email states budget cuts will be informed by the Program Analysis completed by the Council on University Planning and Budget in April 2014.

Stephanie Markham can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].