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More bad news for higher education

Friday, Mar 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Southern

Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn on Wednesday issued a difficult directive to the Carbondale campus to identify $30 million in potential cuts to address a structural deficit caused by a double whammy of declining enrollment and the “governmental abomination” playing out in Springfield.

The arduous undertaking has been underway for months, but Dunn, in a letter to the campus community, put a hard number to the immediate call for cuts: $30 million in cost reductions to be identified by July 1, on top of the $21 million in cuts the university previously identified.

Dunn also is planning to recommend that SIU Board of Trustees members declare a short-term financial emergency for the Carbondale campus. Dunn said that would signify that the Carbondale campus is operating in deficit mode — it will potentially dip into the red next month — and serve as a warning system to indicate that an even more serious situation could be on the horizon without corrective action. […]

“There’s no way you can cut $30 million dollars out of a human capital enterprise and not have it affect personnel,” Dunn said, in an interview. “There’s no way to do it otherwise.”

Colwell echoed that sentiment in his letter. The “challenging and painful” reductions “will almost certainly include layoffs,” according to Colwell.

That’s a 15.9 percent cut for Carbondale, by the way.


Dunn blames three factors for the impact here:

    - the state budget impasse
    - declining enrollment
    - the fact that the Carbondale campus has already tapped out about $80 million in reserves the school must now pay back.

…Dunn went on to say that if the university is in this mess six months from now, then its the fault of the state.

Their enrollment problems are at the heart of this situation. The impasse ain’t helping, however. There is zero certainty in higher ed right now. If I was a parent with a college-bound student, I think I’d be reluctant to recommend an Illinois school.

* Dunn also wants the Edwardsville campus to loan Carbondale some money

In his email column, “The System Connection,” Dunn said he is proposing a short-term financial emergency for the university. Dunn said Carbondale will be asking for a loan of unrestricted funds from the Edwardsville campus.

“I fully understand there may be keen frustration — if not anger — at the fact that earlier cost-cutting efforts and strong enrollments at Edwardsville are being rewarded with that financial strength achieved now benefiting another campus … one which has shied away from making some difficult decisions over the past many years,” Dunn said in the column.

In Chancellor Randy Pembrook’s response to the announcement, he said he understands the potential frustration from the Edwardsville campus.

“At this point in time, we have an important role to play as part of the SIU System. Our campus’ financial strength will be critical to the system as we wait for a budget resolution from Springfield,” Pembrook said.

* And then there’s the medical school

The $2.2 million in additional cuts that are being considered for Southern Illinois University School of Medicine related to the ongoing state budget crisis could lead to an undetermined number of layoffs, the medical school’s dean says.

“We’re really going to try to avoid anything massive,” dean and provost Dr. Jerry Kruse said Thursday. […]

Pay for SIU faculty doctors has been cut 5 percent, many positions vacated through attrition haven’t been filed, and several departments have been restructured to become more efficient, he said. […]

At least five to eight SIU surgeons have resigned over the past 20 months because of the budget uncertainty, he said.

The SJ-R also reports that a lot of new medical school graduates are choosing to leave Illinois for residencies in other states. Just 21 percent of graduating students signed up for Illinois residencies this year, compared to previous averages of between 38-45 percent.


  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:19 am:

    When picking a university, students and parents are making a huge financial commitment right now and very likely for many years into the future.

    The state is bleeding public universities dry. Wise investors will obviously look elsewhere.

    Certainly, Gov. Businessman understands that.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:22 am:

    === If I was a parent with a college-bound student, I think I’d be reluctant to recommend an Illinois school===

    Right now, college juniors are traveling out of the state to visit universities outside Illinois.

    You can’t attract enrollment when parents paying tens of thousands of dollars see a state university being starved, and other state universities offering great tuition deals, great academic facilities and opportunities, and no fear about “six months from now.”

    Only NJ has more students leaving for higher ed than Illinois, and NJ has PA, NY, and CT taking the “NJ Surburban” kids to their schools.

    We, allegedly have world class universities we won’t fully fund.

    See the difference?

  3. - 47th Ward - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:26 am:

    Don’t worry. Governor Rauner says he’s winning.

  4. - Hello Fitness Friend - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:27 am:

    @47th Ward:

    Don’t worry. Governor Rauner says our doctors of tomorrow just need some duct tape to fix that gaping wound, right?

  5. - Saluki - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:30 am:

    I blame Rauner for what’s happening to SIUC. However the pension debt load is not helping things either. A good story about it linked below.

  6. - Ray del Camino - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:34 am:

    What say you, Terri Bryant?

  7. - Tron - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:36 am:

    Maybe Loyola could buy SIUC, DePaul could buy EIU, and Bradley could buy WIU. It’s almost as if that’s what Rauner wants. (Snark but not really snark)

  8. - Perrid - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:38 am:

    What does “unrestricted funds” mean? Does that mean they want a blank check, or just that Edwardsville can’t tell Carbondale what to do with the money? If you read the article it says SIUE is also going to make cuts or take out loans up to $4 million, so yeah, I would be annoyed at having to loan a struggling sister campus (is that a real phrase or did I make that up?) money.

  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:39 am:

    Raunerites are clear…

    Rauner is willing to hurt whomever needs to be the one’s hurt, close whatever needs to be what’s closed, leverage whomever needs to be the leveraged…

    As long as it isn’t certain social service providers or higher education intuitions that don’t have Rauner on the name of if one of its libraries or dormitories…

    Raunerites in the GA… they know this.

    SIUC doesn’t fit into what the Rauners deem “protected”… so…

  10. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:39 am:

    -I blame Rauner for what’s happening to SIUC. However the pension debt load is not helping things either. A good story about it linked below.-

    Good read. But always remember if past legislators and govs wouldn’t have raided it to pay for other things including lower taxes system would be solvent. Or close to it.

  11. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:46 am:

    @10:39: if past governors had fully funded these institutions, it would take longer for the pain inflicted today to become apparent. But today’s malefactors are still causing damage without regard for who gets hurt.

  12. - Big Dog - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:54 am:

    This is exactly why we sent our son to a school out of state. One is the PC baloney that is going on in Il state schools. Let them get rid of first some of the nebulas classes with PC instructors that should save a bunch o9f money. Second is we did not know if the schools would be open.

  13. - Cubs in '16 - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 10:59 am:

    ===One is the PC baloney that is going on in Il state schools.===

    That’s not unique to IL schools. Just sayin’.

  14. - Slippin' Jimmy - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    If pensions aren’t properly funded some day in the future there very well could be a pension debt load. Seems an easy construct.

  15. - Langhorne - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 11:18 am:

    Words–were gonna do great things in higher ed. More money in the classroom, blah, blah

    Deeds–starve the beast, to the max. think of those zoo animals in venezuela. even if funding miraculously 85% restored, lasting damage continues to spread. Staff, students, reputations.

    Meanwhile, the gov “has a plan” for a balanced budget.
    Tell a lie long enough……

  16. - Handle Bar Mustache - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 11:19 am:

    ==@10:39: if past governors had fully funded these institutions==


    Higher ed would be jumping for joy if any “past governors” budgets were provided since Rauner arrived.

    Rauner has singled out state universities for special misery. Never has explained why.

  17. - Annonin' - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 11:24 am:

    It is impossible how GOPie GA members from college towns can survive Rauner’s destruction of colleges and universities.

  18. - Get it Solved - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 11:35 am:

    No Comments from Bryant, Severin, Phelps, Fowler, and Schimpf on this massive cut to Southern IL?

  19. - don the legend - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 11:42 am:

    I don’t know politics and polling and tabs like some of the posters here but in 2018 Rauner can’t possibly carry the towns and counties where these universities are located,…. can he?

  20. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 12:15 pm:

    Rauner has certainly made this worse, but the under funding began around 2000. The outmigration has increased as underfunding has grown. We have great colleges and universities, but high tuition linked to low state funding, declining MAP grants, and the constant drip of academic program cuts all encourage students to go elsewhere. The only way to stop this downward spiral is to restore state funding now and set plans to increase it. The $$$ investment will need to come first; the students will return when they see stability and growth.

  21. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 12:25 pm:

    Elections Have Consequences,Chapter 250.

  22. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 12:26 pm:

    Ray del Camino:
    Bryant will say what Rauner wants her to say.
    50 million reasons why.

  23. - Where's the Beef - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 1:49 pm:

    ===No Comments from Bryant, Severin, Phelps, Fowler, and Schimpf on this massive cut to Southern IL? ===

    Of course not…these people are politicians. Don’t confuse them with “statesmen.”

  24. - Just Sayin ... - Friday, Mar 31, 17 @ 2:05 pm:

    All public universities are suffer since the Gov’s call of 30% in cuts to public universities. Average cost of enrolling in a 4-year public higher education is half of the private. Rauner doesn’t value the need for public education and the return of investment for the state and the local communities in which these universities reside.

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