Editorial: Lack of budget could lead to layoffs

Staff Editorial

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With more layoffs looming on the horizon for Eastern if the state of Illinois fails to pass an adequate budget—or a budget at all—people in the university community are understandably beginning to worry.

Even though President David Glassman did his best to squelch rumors that the university would soon close down, they are again surfacing as Eastern must continue to make internal cuts to survive.

Glassman announced Monday that more layoffs and furloughs would be a reality if Eastern did not receive its state appropriations in a reasonable amount of time.

“Our state government is literally starving its public universities,” Glassman said in the email to faculty and staff.

The first of the personnel cuts began this summer when Glassman shared that 40 faculty positions would be eliminated, which affected about half of the academic departments and program areas on campus.

All administrative and professional employees were made to take furlough days, while some of their positions were eliminated along with some civil service positions.

Eastern’s fall budget adjustments made for about a $10 million reduction to balance the fiscal year 2016 budget; however, the budget was adjusted in anticipation of state appropriations the university has yet to receive.

Now, according to Glassman’s announcement, hundreds of non-instructional employees will have to be laid off while others receive unpaid furlough days if the state continues “starving” universities of the funding they need to function.

This is a crucial point in time in which the actions of every one who is part of the Eastern community are immensely important to the university’s future success.

On the part of Glassman and Eastern’s other administrators, transparency is imperative.

Being honest that these additional layoffs and unpaid furlough days could be impending is a step in the right direction.

When apparently negative or depressing news is swept under the rug or distorted, more harm is done than good because people begin assuming the worst, and their fears become rumors that hurt morale more in the long run than the “bad news” probably would have in the first place.

What is also an important expectation is that the layoffs and unpaid furlough days are distributed fairly and without placing imbalanced burdens on any particular area of the university over another.

Students, alumni, faculty and staff, and others should be careful not to spread false information.

We should also recognize that, while more layoffs and unpaid furlough days would be incredibly unfortunate, they could be a necessary evil, and Glassman should not be demonized for having to make tough calls to balance the budget.

He took on a very difficult job when he replaced former President Bill Perry last year, as the university was already facing declining enrollment and limited funding.

We should all hope for the best—which would be that Gov. Bruce Rauner passes a budget and the hundreds of layoffs will not be needed—but if that does not happen, we should be careful not to spread rumors or negativity.

The daily editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial board of The Daily Eastern News.