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Rauner talks higher ed as SIU prepares reforms

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* Let’s revisit that Amanda Vinicky interview of Gov. Bruce Rauner

BVR: We need to shrink the bureaucracy in our university system. We have an expensive overhead, pension, work rules, restrictions. Just like inside state government, we need to shrink that bureaucracy. We need to put our money in our schools, in our teachers, in our students, and we need the state to step up and do a better job supporting our schools. We also need to eliminate the redundancy in our schools. Many of them offer the same majors and options, and we have too much overlap. We need to help streamline our university system.

AV: Was that the plan all along? To force mergers, administrative layoffs, consolidate programs?

BVR: No, not at all. I’ve wanted a balanced budget with proper university funding for more than two years now. It’s outrageous the general assembly has not passed a balanced budget. […]

AV: If you want some of these programs to consolidate, some of these universities to “shape up,” why hasn’t that been done? If not now, when?

BVR: There are negotiations underway with our Board of Higher Education, and universities talking about how they can streamline their overhead, how they can work together and specialize in certain majors. Those discussions are going on right now and I’m optimistic that they can lead to even better school options for our students, and more value for taxpayers.

OK, first of all, the budget he proposed in 2015 included a 31.5 percent cut to higher education.

Secondly, as a product of elite schools, I’m not sure if the governor understands the usefulness of and need for non-elite universities. Lots of kids whose families can’t afford to send them to top-notch schools need the state’s “directional” universities to help themselves move up the ladder of life. And a lot of those students attend the directionals nearest their parents. So, yeah, there’s curricular overlap, but there’s good reasons for that.

* Rauner’s right about overhead costs, though, and Southern Illinois University claims it’s about to announce a revamp

Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn said that his Carbondale campus is developing a “financial sustainability plan” that will be released around July 1.

“Everything within the magnitude of operations, we’re going to be looking at,” Dunn said. “Potentially making reductions or closing certain operations. Everything other than tenured faculty would be available for reorganization, restructuring, removing.” […]

“We may look like a different institution. We may have to let some programs go and reconfigure others. We may not have as many people. Staffing will change. But from the standpoint of a 150-year history being lost, that’s not going to happen.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

28 Comments
  1. - Juice - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 3:16 pm:

    OK, so for K-12 the Governor thinks that public schools need competition from charter schools/private schools.

    For higher ed, where there is competition with private schools as well as other public schools, the Governor wants to limit the amount of competition by limiting the number of course offerings/majors that certain public schools would be allowed to offer in a top-down fashion.

    Makes all the sense in the world.

    (Not saying that the thinking doesn’t have some merit, it is at the least worthy of a debate. Just pointing out that its not exactly what the Governor purports to support in elementary and secondary education.)


  2. - Dee Lay - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    “No, not at all. I’ve wanted a balanced budget with proper university funding for more than two years now. It’s outrageous the general assembly has not passed a balanced budget”

    Props to Amanda for not laughing in his face.


  3. - Blue Bayou - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 3:26 pm:

    Still no specifics. Universities offer the same majors for obvious reasons: that’s what students who attend them major in. If a program doesn’t draw students, at any university, it gets cut. No public university in IL is so awash in fund that it can sustain unsustainable programs.

    If there is some administrative bloat, then let’s address that. Specifically.

    But I’ll tell you, this sounds like someone BSing on an exam because they didn’t study and haven’t been paying attention.

    This is not governing.


  4. - Whatever - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 3:30 pm:

    ==Just like inside state government, we need to shrink that bureaucracy.==

    And after two years on the job, your agency directors still couldn’t identify a single place to cut during the budget hearings a month ago. Get off the campaign trail and get to work.

    ==We need to put our money in our schools, in our teachers, in our students, and we need the state to step up and do a better job supporting our schools.==

    Funding the pensions teachers have already earned IS putting the money in our teachers, while kicking the can down the road just means we have to pay more.

    ==We also need to eliminate the redundancy in our schools. Many of them offer the same majors and options, and we have too much overlap.==

    If only it were that simple. When all the engineering students in the state go to UIUC, it won’t be able to absorb them without hiring any new teachers or staff? Consolidating programs will to some extent merely shift staffing around. And not even all the department will leave a university when a major is closed down - accounting students still need to take economics courses and economics students will still take math and history, etc.. If the graduate students and majors in economics all go to one university, the better economics professors will go there too, leaving the other schools to get second-best.


  5. - HistProf - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 3:35 pm:

    I second Blue Bayou, and only want to ask why Rich seems to jumping on the “administrative bloat” bandwagon. I with you. This is Trump-style BSing.


  6. - illini - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 3:37 pm:

    When these topics come to Higher Education, my Alma Mater and “administrative bloat” we used to be able to count on some words of wisdom from Illinois/Arizona Bob.

    I kind of miss my old sparring partner.


  7. - Ed Higher - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 3:45 pm:

    Yes, it’s true. All Illinois universities have an English department, and Biology, and History… it goes on and on. What incredible redundancy!

    Just let the current budget stalemate continue another year; higher ed outside of the “crown jewels” UofI system will have collapsed. Problem solved.


  8. - Saluki - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 3:45 pm:

    Thanks Bruce. You are really helping us down here in the sticks. For dramatic effect I wonder if you could send Munger down to sweep up the ashes once SIUC is totally done burning down.


  9. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 3:54 pm:

    Rauner has not engaged the Board of Higher Education on this topic, at all. IBHE has been without a leader for three months now, they aren’t doing anything new in this area.

    Several years ago legislation was passed that asked IBHE to work with the schools to examine “low” programs in terms of enrollments and degrees and that has been in place for a few years already. Schools have already made changes such as condensing two smaller related departments into one bigger department.

    If Rauner would engage IBHE or the schools he would learn what the data show, Illinois is actually more efficient than most states in terms of producing graduates, or we were until the impasse started cutting into enrollments anyway, I don’t know what the current data will show when it comes out.

    Let Rauner start naming some specific programs he thinks are duplicitous and lets look at the data.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 4:05 pm:

    Dunn’s complete “compliance” to kowtow to Rauner leaves Higher Education only one chance to possibly exist in any form for some Illinois universities.

    Defeat Rauner in 2018… if some can wait THAT out.

    Rauner thinks very little of SIU, et al, they ain’t Dartmouth.

    Rauner spends millions for a rare book library and dorm at Dartmouth, and squeezes Illinois universities… and Dunn just thinks it a “challenge”

    The sole way to save state universities now… is to defeat Rauner.


  11. - illini - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 4:18 pm:

    @Willy - I totally agree. All the University Presidents, and their Boards, are playing “nice” with Rauner and appear to be afraid to call him out for the deliberate destruction that he is causing.

    What more can they possibly lose that has not already been lost?

    They are the “hostages” in the Rauner Plan and they know it!

    So maybe it should be up to the rest of us to “raise some hell”.


  12. - Blue Bayou - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 4:22 pm:

    Illini, lots of folks from state unis are in Springfield today protesting higher ed cuts.

    Be nice if Rich did a post….


  13. - illini - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 4:23 pm:

    @Blue - I know Illinois Connection has been making the rounds. Not sure if they are there today.

    We all have to do our part.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 4:25 pm:

    - illini -

    Yep. At this point, the remarks of Dunn only give safe harbor to Rauner. Sad to read. It’s difficult for me to think such an educated person can’t actually see what’s going on.

    Once the first university closes, it will be those who went along with Rauner that will live with what they said.


  15. - illini - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 4:42 pm:

    I honestly never thought that Rauner could purposely do this kind of willful damage to these powerful economic engines of our states economy.

    Strictly a “business decision” I guess.

    We know how well that is working out for the Social Service providers!!

    Thanks Willy.


  16. - Annonin' - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 4:45 pm:

    Yikes…DopeyDuct is so out of it that he fails to hit the truly softball question Amanda put on the tee…she tried to let him claim that was all part of his secret plan to make us into West Indiana, but no he blows it. His total disinterest in actual governing shines through.
    He uses outdated fact sheet about “bloat”, ignores state funds cuts and claims he want to spend more on universities. Amazing.


  17. - Rufus - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 4:49 pm:

    And since when has the Gov submitted a “authentic” balanced budget. - What a hypocrite!
    He is sounding more and more like Trump everyday.


  18. - illinoised - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 5:03 pm:

    Rauner sounds as if he was briefed on higher education by Cliff Clavin.


  19. - illini - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 5:16 pm:

    Not saying that this will make any difference but finally, after a year without Senate confirmation,
    Rauner finally removed his UIUC appointment, Bambenek, to the IBHE from consideration.

    Maybe we can now get a qualified Faculty member from UIUC to serve on the Board. And have a full Board.

    And, dare I even hope that the Board will actually do its “job”. It would be great if the Governor would even acknowledge that they exist and that they have an important voice.


  20. - Langhorne - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 5:22 pm:

    No plan. No analysis. As always. Just damaging talking points that go down well with a scotch at the club. Harumph. Harumph


  21. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 7:35 pm:

    The plan is social Darwinism, and it’s going fine from Rauner’s perspective.

    But it’s another punch in the gut to Downstate, which is taking the biggest beating from squeeze the beast.


  22. - peon - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 7:39 pm:

    == Secondly, as a product of elite schools, I’m not sure if the governor understands the usefulness of and need for non-elite universities. ==

    No kidding. Private schools are small, expensive, any very selective about majors offered. Because it is not their mission to provide accessible higher education to citizens of a state. Good grief.


  23. - illini - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 8:15 pm:

    @peon - dare I say “He doesn’t care”.


  24. - TeachOutIL - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 8:26 pm:

    @BlueBayou — thanks, yes, buses of students, staff, and faculty from colleges and university all over the state came together in Springfield today. After a couple hours teaching in the Rotunda, the outdoor rally lasted an hour. Not even a mention?


  25. - DuPage - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 8:34 pm:

    BVR: There are negotiations underway with our Board of Higher Education, and universities talking about how they can streamline their overhead, how they can work together and specialize in certain majors…I’m optimistic that they can lead to even better school options for our students…

    Yes governor, even better school options for our students, to go to schools in OTHER STATES!


  26. - Joe M - Thursday, Apr 27, 17 @ 9:31 pm:

    Rauner having both a lieutenant governor and a deputy governor - that is administrative bloat. Plus isn’t his executive staff larger and makes more money than the previous Governor’s staff? And what do we have to show for it?


  27. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Apr 28, 17 @ 7:27 am:

    The Governor does not take a salary or pension and Leslie Munger does not take a pension.

    Administrative bloat is a problem but not in the Governors office


  28. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 28, 17 @ 7:58 am:

    ===The Governor does not take a salary or pension===

    We are getting what we are paying for, “Nothing”. So, Rauner says he’s not worth anything, I agree.

    ===and Leslie Munger does not take a pension===

    … but takes money when she said she “didn’t need a job”

    Dunno if you want to highlight all this, lol


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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