STAFF EDITORIAL: Eastern is in an upswing

Staff Editorial

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It was not very long ago that Eastern found itself muddled in a state budget impasse that lasted 793 days from July 1 to Aug. 31, 2017.

A rallying campaign to “Fund EIU” was sparked during that time, enrollment dipped, employees lost their jobs, rumors and whispers of closings touched the ears of many people across Illinois.

For an extended period of time, dark days loomed over Eastern and, quite frankly, all of the universities across the state of Illinois.

Eastern President David Glassman delivered his State of the University address, and in it he painted the picture of an Eastern that is not only out of the storm but also currently appears to be on an upward trend.

We at The Daily Eastern News, who also remember the days when things at Eastern were not so sunny, were overall excited to hear the message that was delivered by Glassman on Thursday.

Taking into consideration the school’s current financial, enrollment and academic situations, we at The News feel that if Eastern has not already reached it, the school is at least in view of the light at the end of the tunnel created by the state budget impasse.

Glassman first touched on the school’s increased enrollment figures in his speech, citing that overall enrollment is now up to 7,806, which includes an increase in dual-enrollment students and first-year freshmen. The overall enrollment increase is a pleasure to see and hear, and while on-campus head count is still down at 4,917 students, the overall enrollment figures show Eastern as a school that is establishing footing from where it was at just a few years ago.

As Glassman put it on Thursday, the school is gaining momentum toward enrollment growth.

Eastern also, for the first time since the budget impasse began, will not have to reduce spending from its income fund from the previous fiscal year.

Eastern’s fiscal year 2020 budget sits at $41.4 million; included is a re-appropriation of $10 million of Eastern capital projects. Glassman noted that again, this budget is still lower than pre-impasse numbers, but like everything else, they still show signs of a school climbing out of a hole.

Glassman also announced that Eastern would, finally, receive $119 million for a new science building as part of a $45 billion state bill that will provide funding to state entities.

Much of what was said by Glassman on Thursday was great to hear. Everyone in the Eastern community should be pleased with the message that was delivered.

Things are not perfect yet, and it is certainly not time to become complacent because there is still a lot of work to do. But with the budget impasse finally in the rearview mirror of the school, things are looking up.

The Editorial Staff can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].