* Press release…
The Board of Trustees at Chicago State University took steps at a special meeting today to officially declare financial exigency and prepare the University to continue operating in the absence of state funding. Like all public universities, CSU enters its eighth month with no funding due to the historic state budget impasse.
“The actions taken by the Board today are meant to give the administration of the University some additional flexibility as it works through this unprecedented situation,” Anthony Young, Chairman of the Board of Trustees said. “Over the past year, this University has made significant cuts to personnel and spending but has reached a tipping point where the ability to function is threatened. I want to be very clear, this action may help the administration manage this crisis in the short term, but exigency is by no means a solution to our budget woes. The only real solution is for the Governor and the leaders to come together and provide the necessary funding to avoid further damage to our universities.”
In declaring financial exigency, the Board is officially recognizing that the unforeseen fiscal situation compels CSU to reevaluate all programs, services and organizational structures in order to fulfill its core mission and to complete the current semester. In addition to declaring exigency, the Board established a Management Action Committee, which is chaired by the President of the University and includes senior members of the administration, who will continue the ongoing task of thoroughly reviewing all aspects of University spending and make recommendations on where additional cost saving measurers can be found. Lastly, the Board created an Advisory Committee, which will have faculty, staff and student representation and will give input to the Management Action Committee.
“We find ourselves in this unprecedented situation because, while the state has not honored its commitment to our students, we still intend to do so,” Thomas Calhoun Jr., CSU President said. “We are committed to finishing this semester and to graduating our seniors, and in order to accomplish that goal in the absence of state dollars or MAP grant funding, we are forced to take these extraordinary measures. I would hope the necessary but unfortunate steps we are taking here today will help all elected officials who represent public universities and care about higher education recognize that this is not just a Chicago State problem, it can and will affect the entire public university system. On behalf of our students who have bravely and proudly stood at the front lines of this crisis and fought for their university, I once again call on the Governor and the leaders of Illinois to put aside your political differences and take necessary action to prevent students from being the victims of this catastrophe.”
February 4, 2016
To: The Honorable Governor Rauner
Senate President Cullerton
Senate Minority Leader Radogno
House Speaker Madigan
House Minority Leader Durkin
Members of the General Assembly
I am writing on behalf of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the regional accrediting agency for nineteen states, including Illinois. HLC is recognized by the United States Department of Education to assure quality in higher education and to serve as the gatekeeper to federal financial aid for students in our region.
As your role in Illinois includes consequential decisions regarding the governance and funding for colleges and universities, I am notifying you of the potential accreditation outcomes that may result from not approving a budget that will provide funding to Illinois colleges and universities and their students.
A criterion for accreditation is demonstration of the availability of financial, physical, and human resources necessary to provide quality higher education. HLC is aware that the colleges and universities in Illinois may need to suspend operations because financial resources from the state are not available. HLC is obligated to move swiftly to protect Illinois students and to ensure the quality of the colleges and universities they attend.
Following federal regulations, HLC has notified all Illinois colleges and universities that if they believe they will have to suspend operations or close in the next several months, they must provide HLC with a plan for how students can continue at another college or university to avoid eliminating their access to higher education. For students to continue at another institution, it could mean having to transfer to private universities or leave the state. It is also probable some students may drop out of college. The plan also must explain how students will be informed about this urgent situation, including how they access transcripts if operations have been suspended due to lack of state funding.
HLC’s analysis of that plan about the college or university’s viability in the weeks ahead could result in 1) a review of the college or university’s compliance with HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation, 2) a sanction – in which the college or university would have two years or fewer to demonstrate corrective action, or 3) withdrawal of accreditation. After such a withdrawal, there is a multi-year process for institutions to regain status with an accrediting agency. Students attending institutions that do not have status with an accrediting agency recognized by the federal government cannot access federal financial aid.
I served as a college president at two institutions in Ohio and know it is critical for state leadership to have every fact and potential outcome available. The lack of state funding is putting Illinois colleges and universities at serious risk and jeopardizing the future of students. I recognize the pain of budget shortfalls, especially in our home state of Illinois. The economic challenges the state faces are significant, and difficult decisions undoubtedly must be made. I am writing because I believe it is important for you to have all the relevant information before making the tough decisions that fall to your positions.
As you struggle with these difficult and life-changing decisions, if you have questions about the role of accreditation, please contact me.
Barbara Gellman-Danley, Ph.D.
President, Higher Learning Commission
Emphasis in original.
…Adding… From the IBHE…
Statement from Dr. James Applegate, Executive Director
“The IBHE has been informed by Chicago State University that the Board of Trustees have declared financial exigency. They are taking steps to mitigate the financial situation on their campus in order to address the needs of their students, faculty, and staff.
The Board of Higher Education is keenly aware of the uncertainty the lack of a Fiscal Year 2016 budget is creating for Illinois college students, professors and staff at all of Illinois’ 48 community colleges and twelve public universities.
While IBHE has no direct role or authority in overseeing the actions of the CSU Trustees, we extend our support to the campus leaders as they seek to minimize the impact on their students’ academic progress.”