* Dusty Rhodes at WUIS…
Colleges and universities have been starved for state funding through the ongoing budget impasse. The interim provost at the flagship campus of the University of Illinois recently presented faculty and staff with a blunt accounting of the school’s financial situation.
As one of the top administrators at the U of I, Edward Feser’s academic specialty is in regional economics. In short, he’s a numbers guy. So when he decided to give the campus community an update on the school’s response to the budget problems, his talk included a big dose of digits. But that’s not all there is to it.
“We wanted to explain how we were dealing with the state funding shortfall. So from fiscal ‘16, from the stop-gap allocation that was provided, if we account for the amount of money that was directed to the university, and we also account for the permanent spending reductions that we implemented of $49 million annually — after you account for those two things, in fiscal ‘16, we remain $140 million short. If we look at fiscal ‘17, we applied additional spending reductions of about $18 million. And then if we take account of the second round of stop-gap funding that was provided, we’re in the hole for fiscal ‘17 by $50 million.
“So if you look at the last two fiscal years in which we’ve had no budget, and instead stop-gap allocations, we are short $190 million from those two years. And that’s after we reduced spending by about $68 or $69 million. And to give you a sense of the magnitude of that reduction — $69 million — it’s important to realize that in fiscal ‘15, we received about $236 million in general revenue funding. So in two years, we’ve made a substantial revenue reduction in our spending, and we’re still $190 million short from those two years. We wanted to explain that to the campus, to help faculty understand it, and to explain how we were addressing that near-term shortfall.”