Updates on budget, enrollment given at BOT committee meeting

Cassie Buchman, Staff Reporter

Updates on Eastern’s future budget and enrollment were given out during an executive committee meeting of the Board of Trustees.

These included talks of measures that might have to take place if a budget is not enacted by legislators at the end of the fiscal year.

Going into FY18, the administration is proposing a preliminary budget taking Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed $36.5 million in funding into account.

This is a 15 percent cut from the amount Eastern received in FY15.

This, along with tuition being projected as somewhere around $42 million, net about $10 million worth of waivers, non-appropriated fees coming somewhere around $64 million, makes the total preliminary budget around $142 million.

This budget is not set in stone, however, as numbers and the amount of funding coming from Springfield are not firmed up yet.

Rauner has called in a special session for legislators to work out a full budget before the fiscal year starts on July 1. If this does not happen, the state will be for its third year without a budget and Eastern will have gone three years without full funding, barring stop-gaps given out in the past.

Budget parameters for FY19 include going forward again with the flat budget of $36.5 million the governor proposed, with no further decline in tuition, no increase in scholarships and waivers, personnel cost reductions only if needed and non-personnel cost reductions if needed.

While Paul McCann, interim vice president of business affairs, said he “fully anticipates” there will be something done before June 30, the administration will have to have a plan if there is not.

“I think we’re going to have to look at additional cuts, additional changes at the university,” he said.

McCann said after the meeting this could include potential operational costs cuts and some additional payroll cuts, including personnel cuts.

Though this could potentially mean people having to be laid off again, McCann said there are a number of people already set to leave the campus on their own, and the administration will be diligent about how they do replace people, if they even replace them at all.

Operational costs include paper, supplies, travel, computer programs and various other things needed for the university.

McCann said the university is trying to be positive.

“We’ve been active over there, there are people that are willing to move forward, they just have to bring others with them,” he said.

Eastern President David Glassman, giving an update on movement in Springfield, said he is hopeful that both sides will bring a budget Rauner is willing to sign and that things move quickly.

“No one enjoys having the impasse last a third year,” he said.

Glassman reported that the presidents of the nine public state universities sent a letter to leaders of the two chambers and the governor asking them to enact a budget so universities can start regaining predictability and sustainability, Glassman said.

“We need to get this thing resolved,” Glassman said. “There’s no option- it has to be done this session, which is next week.”

In an enrollment update, Josh Norman, associate vice president for enrollment management, said recent indicators are that the new freshman numbers are down.

Going up slightly are transfers, undergraduate international students and graduate students.

What the university is up against, Norman said, are 2,602 applications for graduation in the last academic year, along with general attrition rates and an irregular cycle for financial aid.

A summer open house is set for Monday. 225 students have registered for the open house this year, up 75 from last year’s 146.

Three new admissions counselors have been hired, getting counselors to a full staff level going into this enrollment cycle.

Glassman said he anticipates a “bump” in enrollment if a budget is passed next week.

“There’s a lot of people sitting out there, watching,” he said. “It’s a strange environment.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]