Union, Textbook Rental Service still feeling effects of impasse

Brooke Schwartz, Campus reporter

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Reports from both the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union and the Textbook Rental Service highlighted the cutbacks made by both places over the past few years during the budget impasse.

Mitch Coe, the bookstore manager who presented the budgetary findings of the Textbook Rental Service, said the budget impasse has caused textbooks to be renewed less quickly and has led to a shortage of textbooks for some students.

More faculty members are asking for online supplemental materials, which ends up being more expensive than physical textbooks, he added.

“That’s probably going to be our biggest issue, is how are we going to pay for those,” Coe said.

Lynette Drake, the interim vice president of student affairs, said textbooks can be used year after year, while online materials need to be repurchased every year.

“That’s the cost issue,” Drake said.

Paul McCann, the interim vice president for business affairs, said areas on campus such as the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union are starting to see the result of the cost cutting that has happened across campus over the past couple of years.

“It’s not necessarily a good thing when you try to cut costs, especially some of those fixed costs (within the Union’s budget), some of them (which were) deferred for the maintenance cost,” McCann said. “I think everybody can say this across campus; we’re starting to feel some of those effects as we’ve gone on through the budget impasse and later, to where it’s getting harder and harder to maintain the campus.”

Cathy Engelkes, the deputy director of the Union, said cutbacks at the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union have included reducing staffing, overtime, supply purchases, building hours and advertising.

Reports from both Eastern President David Glassman and Provost Jay Gatrell said Eastern is on target for spending through Dec. 30.

Gatrell said he is “confident that (Eastern) will stay within budget” this year.

Also in his report, Gatrell said Eastern is in the process of hiring 14 to 16 new faculty members. Interviews for these positions are now in their final stages.

The Illinois General Assembly is back in session with discussions about higher education budgets continuing into the new year.

Glassman said higher education continues to be a priority for many lawmakers and senators, and he believes Gov. Bruce Rauner will continue the discussion about higher education budgets.

Members of the General Assembly have been coming to Eastern for more information, such as data and statistics, on the university.

“Higher education is absolutely on the minds of our legislators and governor,” Glassman said.

Brooke Schwartz can be reach at 581-2812 or at [email protected]