CUPB hears budget, accreditation update

Stephanie Markham, Editor-in-Chief

President David Glassman told the Council on University Planning and Budget Friday that Eastern will have a balanced budget once appropriations come through, which he expects to happen by the end of the semester.

He said Eastern’s return letter to the Higher Learning Commission indicated that the educational experience has not been compromised by the state’s budget impasse.

Glassman said the commission wanted to know if colleges and universities have been cutting programs, and Eastern has not had to do that.

The commission also received Eastern’s budgetary materials indicating that the university has been operating within the amount it is anticipating to receive for fiscal year 2016, about $40 million.

The $40 million estimate is based on the 6.5 percent cut initially proposed by the General Assembly.

Glassman said he hopes the commission’s inquiries will resonate with the legislature and add to the urgency of funding higher education.

“I certainly appreciate, one the HLC being interested and concerned, and two laying down the issue to our state lawmakers that this is something beyond just the state,” Glassman said. “This is talking about the accreditation of universities.”

The final number of civil service layoffs was 177, down from the original estimate of 198.

“It is largely due to decisions that we made to keep Housing and Dining a little bit stronger so that there would be not an erosion of the student services that are provided to them in Housing and Dining,” Glassman said.

Glassman said he discussed closing one of the dining halls but decided against it because they are paid for with bond rather than appropriated money.

David Emmerich, the CUPB chair, asked if the university was still on track to save the $5 million it projected with the smaller number of layoffs.

Glassman said the layoffs amounted to about $3 million in savings, and both rounds of furloughs saved about $1 million total. Therefore, administrators are looking into more cost-saving measures to make up the difference, such as expanding the furloughs to other groups.

“The expense cutting we did for fall for this year, in hindsight, has become highly favorable for us to do the things we have to do to get through,” Glassman said. “That is, it could have been much, much worse.”

Paul McCann, the interim vice president for business affairs, said 155 administrative and professional staff members have to take furlough days starting March 1.

Glassman said in the current round of layoffs, he has let go two of the six civil service employees in his area, one of whom was under intercollegiate athletics.

Jeff Cross, the associate vice president for academic affairs, said 43 civil service personnel were laid off in his area, and some departments will have to consolidate clerical support to be able to make due with fewer staff members.

“It would be unreasonable to think the level of service will not be affected by their absence,” Cross said.

He said some employees are being bumped into positions in other offices, so a period of training will be needed to bring their service up to an adequate level.

McCann said 104 of 234 civil service employees were given lay off notices in the business affairs division.

He said facilities, planning and management will lose about 80 people, and Information Technology Services will lose about 12.

“It is a very tough cut within the facilities area, and also tough in ITS, but percentage wise it is a significant portion of facilities,” McCann said. “From the standpoint of what happens, within facilities we will be in a position where we will only be doing maintenance.”

John Henderson, the assistant vice president for academic affairs for technology, said he has met with ITS, and they will try to keep computers running on campus through a priority system.

People can call the help desk at 581-HELP, and the technicians in the Center for Academic Technology Support and ITS will pool together to get computers fixed.

“It won’t be 24 hours like it has been; it may be a couple days, but I assure you classrooms are first, so there will be no effect on students,” Henderson said.

Lynette Drake, the interim vice president for student affairs, said 24 positions were identified for elimination in student affairs, though 72 positions were affected in some way by the process of bumping.

“Even though we had fewer positions eliminated, we are going to have a huge transition and turnover in the staff,” she said.

She said about 219 civil service employees currently work in her division.

“We are anticipating that it’s going to have some effect on our services, but we hope not to eliminate any services at all,” Drake said. “We are hoping to look at how we are providing those services, maybe modify how we are providing them.”

Jonathan McKenzie, the executive officer of the EIU Foundation, said five civil service employees were laid off in the area of university advancement.

Glassman said he is not sure what funding proposal will end up getting approved, but he believes Eastern will have an appropriation and hopes it will happen soon.

“What we need is compromise and discussion across the aisle,” Glassman said. “I’m neutral as most people know because higher education needs (to be) non-partisan. We all believe in it; it’s just other things happening not allowing that to take place.”

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