Eastern President David Glassman met with the Illinois Senate Committee on Higher Education Tuesday and presented the ongoing struggles the university has endured as a result of the budget impasse.
After Gov. Bruce Rauner introduced a budget proposal in which spending exceeds revenue by $4.6 billion, committee chairperson, Sen. Pat McGuire of Joliet, asked what the nine universities and three higher education agencies can cut in order to fill this deficit.
“In plain English, we want to know what can you cut and still fulfill your mission,” McGuire said.
Given only 24-hour notice to attend the hearing, Glassman and the other representatives all sang a similar tune: at this point, there is very little more that can be done.
Glassman said when Eastern went into the budget impasse, it was already one of the administratively leanest public universities in the state and remains such.
However, over the two-year period of fiscal year 2016 and FY17, Eastern’s appropriations were reduced by over $41.6 million as compared to FY15, the last normal budget year.
“That is roughly equivalent to the state skipping an entire year of funding for EIU,” Glassman said.
Along with reducing employment and administering furlough days, Glassman also said Eastern was forced to conduct its own version of fund sweeps in order to provide for continued operation during times of non-existent appropriations.
The employee headcount was reduced from 1,743 to 1,330, a cut of 413 positions or 24 percent of total headcount.
All administrative and professional personnel were mandated to incur a minimum of 18 furlough days in 2016, which he said was nearly an entire month’s pay.
“Vendor payment turnaround time have been extended, (and) credit ratings have been downgraded,” Glassman said.
Glassman mentioned the ongoing vitalization project, which he said would help guide future efforts and focus in the coming years.
“We are in the process of eliminating some lower enrolled programs, creating new programs, and implementing ways we might better deliver, highlight and market our strongest programs,” Glassman said.
In dealing with the question McGuire asked, Glassman said he has thought about it heavily over the last 24 hours, and there is very little more he can do that hasn’t already been done when it comes to achieving significant financial savings.
“Eliminate vacant positions and reduce staff by attrition, we’ve done it. Increase efficiencies and reduce duplicative efforts across campus operations, we did it. Reduce our number of employees to better reflect our current enrollments, it’s done. Furlough remaining administrative employees a minimum of 18 days, we did it in 2016. Enact further layoffs prompted purely by cash flow needs and resulting in new, unnecessary inefficiencies throughout campus, I’ve done that,” Glassman said. “Sweep designated local accounts other than those restricted by bond covenants in order to preserve EIU’s cash flow, we’ve done that too. So to answer you’re question, there is very little more that I have in my tool chest in order to reduce the expenses at EIU to reduce the deficit for the state.”
For more information on how other universities responded to the Illinois Senate Committee, visit dailyeasternnews.com
Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]