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The coming higher ed disaster

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This higher ed fact sheet was handed out earlier in the week. Click the pic for a larger image


* Meanwhile, from ABC 7

Dozens of faculty members from Northeastern Illinois University held a New Orleans-style funeral march for the state’s higher education through the streets of Winnetka and up to Governor Bruce Rauner’s door.

They marched to the governor’s home because they said they were out of other options. NEIU typically operates on a $90 million budget, one-third of which is funding from the state. Now the school is trying to figure out how they will open their doors in the fall.

The NEIU employees took their slow funeral march through downtown Winnetka. At the front of the pack of horns and robed employees was a tombstone symbolizing the death of public education.

“What we think this is, is Rauner trying to ruin the university system,” said Sophia Mihic, professor of political science and philosophy at NEIU and president of the faculty union.

* And unionized NEIU staff produced a video the other day


  1. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 10:34 am:

    When Rauner closes the universities he wants closed, then he’ll salvage what’s left as HIS triumph.

    Wonder why Rauner never ran on closing state universities?

  2. - illini - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    So where do things stand with the IPAC 5 year plan submitted by the University of Illinois?

  3. - AnonymousOne - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    ==his triumph==

    He will try to claim anything left as his triumph, but he underestimates the intelligence and capability of forgiveness in people.

    If he thinks he’s earning the respect and potential forgiveness of people, he is truly delusional.

  4. - Ed Higher - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    Not “coming” — maybe the climax of a slow motion train wreck 20 years in the making.

  5. - Ratso Rizzo - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 10:59 am:

    Extremely sad. My kids will be attending college soon and I will be looking at universities in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana because they are STABLE. Who wants to send their kids to schools where programs or even the entire school may disappear?

  6. - JPC - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:02 am:

    I can confirm this (I work in public higher ed).

    What’s astounding is how expensive it has been to us to deal with the costs of shortening budgets. Two reasons:

    1. The average asst. prof (we’re talking ~60k) has coughed up 6k in the last two years in furloughs. If only each Illinoisan of similar salary would do the same!

    2. We spend an outrageous amount of work hours figuring out how to deal with the absence of money. This, as noted above, has been going on for years. I imagine this is true for all of the budget victims.

  7. - thunderspirit - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:14 am:

    “I think we can drive a wedge issue in the Democratic Party…” — Bruce Rauner, September 18, 2012.
    “…” — Rauner, running for Governor in 2014.
    “Crisis. Crisis creates leverage.” — Rauner, April 6, 2015.

    It’s almost like this has been part of Governor Rauner’s plan since, oh, 2012 or so.

  8. - JohnnyPyleDriver - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:16 am:

    “Hey do the job we expect you to do, with the same level of excellence, but don’t spend any money doing it” has been the refrain for 3 years now. Heck of a way to make a living

  9. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:28 am:

    JPC, just asking: How many class hours does the average asst. prof have per week? Office hours?

    If he or she teaches in the summer, do they earn more? Most universities shut down for about 3 weeks at Christmas time, a week in the spring, several days in the fall and roughly 3 months in the summer. Is this info fairly accurate?

  10. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:35 am:

    Social Darwinism.

  11. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:40 am:

    Shakin’ the talented students out of Illinois…many of whom will never return.

    Illinois loses…again.

  12. - Signal and Noise - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    I started reading that one-pager but fell asleep half way through. 2 years into a crisis and the collective representatives of our symbol of advanced degrees still can’t figure out how to communicate a crisis in basic terms that legislators will understand. By all means, let’s throw some more numbers at them.

  13. - Ryan - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    The average Asst. Prof has 9 hours per week in class, 3 hours of office hours. The rest is spent on grading, preparing lectures, and research.

    Classes don’t take place around Christmas, but the university is still open. Same at Thanksgiving and spring break: no classes, but the university is still open. There are still summer classes. Professors aren’t paid more to teach them. They’re paid in relation to their salary, they’re not “paid more.” It would be an additional contract, as full-time professors have 9 month contracts.
    What is your point…?

  14. - James Knell - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    What? No snarky comments about “AFSCAMY”?

    … and thanks for those quotes thunderspirit. This wreckage is intentional. Imagine sticking it to private equity investors with the same severity? No, that would not be allowed, would it?

  15. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:52 am:

    Reducing higher ed revenue does not bother me one bit. Next up, K-12.

  16. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    ===By all means, let’s throw some more numbers at them.===

    And you would do… what?

    Numbers are extremely important here and I don’t think many legislators truly get what’s been going on.

  17. - Graduated College Student - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    ===Reducing higher ed revenue does not bother me one bit. Next up, K-12.===

    “I got mine, to heck with the rest of you.” Right?

  18. - JPC - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 12:07 pm:

    @Anonymous 11:28 AM
    And @Ryan

    Ryan is correct about those obligations, except “service” should also be included (which is often a very substantial obligation–e.g., serving on faculty senate, search committees, etc.). Now a considerable part of that service is devoted to making sure the university has enough money to run.

    I imagine, however, your point is that somehow professors don’t work hard because of the “time off” you see in their schedules. In the first place, that time off is filled with other professional obligations: research (which include a ton of reading, writing, etc.), service to the discipline (e.g., reviewing work for journals, conferences, etc.), professional development, and so forth. Going to conferences, for instance, is a considerable amount of work: this is completely unfunded and uncompensated nowadays. It may involve being away for a week or traveling overseas on your own dime. When you add all of this together, you get way more than the average 40 hour work week.

  19. - walker - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 12:08 pm:

    Higher Education that produces talented people to hire, is one key element that most big companies look for when deciding to move in or out of a state.

    Probably more important than workers’ comp costs or state corporate income tax rates. Certainly more important than term limits or district remapping.

    Why hasn’t increased support for Higher-Ed ever been a non-negotiable item in the business-attracting Turnaround Agenda?

  20. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 12:13 pm:

    I subscribe to the analyze and fund properly school of management. Rauner (and the Kansas crowd) subscribe to the starve an entity of the money, what dies dies, what’s left we fund school of management. One actually analyzes. The other is phony and dangerous.

  21. - Samwell Tarley - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 12:22 pm:

    @Anonymous 11:25 AM:

    Civil Service and Academic Professionals at state Universities typically have 12-month contracts, don’t get many state and federal holidays off, don’t get spring break off, get two days off at Thanksgiving, and might or might not get some time off between Christmas and New Years.

  22. - taxpayerdointhemath - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 12:27 pm:

    Ah, Mr. Rauner wants to turn Illinois into China but he wants my vote. Meh.

  23. - City Zen - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    ==Ah, Mr. Rauner wants to turn Illinois into China but he wants my vote. Meh==

    If you look at UIUC’s enrollment, China is not that far off.

  24. - JohnnyPyleDriver - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    the faculty work hours rabbit hole is completely unnecessary anyway. If you want to cut funding for the schools, say so. Run on that. Tell us why. Campaign on it. Win an election on it. Submit bills for it.

    Just stiffing people isn’t the way to do it

  25. - Doc Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 12:50 pm:

    Asking how many classes professors teach a week is a bit like asking how many cases a lawyer wins in a week, or how many innings a baseball pitcher pitches in a week. Or, maybe, how much time the average reporter spends writing articles each week (much less than they spend interviewing, researching, etc.) I might compare it to how many laws a legislator passes in the average week–but let’s not go there.

    Not all jobs are 9-5 affairs. And not all jobs can be measured by a single easy metric. I’m not saying that faculty jobs aren’t good jobs, and that the flexibility to work at the times you want to work isn’t a plus, but good professors work very long hours. Lousy ones may get away without doing much work, but so do others in other occupations who clock enough hours every week, but underperform all the time.

  26. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    The number of Chinese students at US colleges has risen 5 fold since 2000. Rauner has been guv for 2 1/2 years.

  27. - DuPage - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 1:04 pm:

    Rauner’s non-budget has also done serious damage to the community colleges statewide.

  28. - Dirty Red - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 1:05 pm:

    And all the while there’s more than $660 million just chilling in the Education Assistance Fund.

  29. - Ron - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 1:05 pm:

    We have too many schools especially with declining population and enrollment. Time to close a state university and CSU.

  30. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    ===We have too many schools especially with declining population and enrollment. Time to close a state university and CSU===

    Wonder why Rauner won’t run his campaign around this policy?

    Do you know?

  31. - Simple Simon - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 1:19 pm:

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you, Ron, but I would prefer there to be public discussion, consensus, and a plan. Not just chaos and squeezing until something dies.

  32. - Ain't a Fancy Big City Commenter - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 1:26 pm:

    If only there was a way for the Office of the Governor to appoint officials to the governing boards of these institutions, who could then reign-in on spending, test new initiatives, oversee bargaining unit negotiations and general personnel, and, yes, even discuss consolidation or closure. If only the Governor had the authority to do that.

    If only…

  33. - AnonymousOne - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    But we value Education don’t we? DO we? We definitely value quality and are willing to pay for it for our own children. Other peoples’ children…. not so much. No sense of social responsibility for many.

  34. - Anon - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 1:30 pm:

    Rauner can break higher education in one term…

    But it will take a generation to build it back to where it was when he stepped in.

  35. - Chucktownian - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 2:07 pm:

    Just a few more days until I’m gone, heading to another state. I really like this place but it’s time to go. I can’t sit through any more of this.

  36. - Higher Ed - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 2:10 pm:

    =Most universities shut down for about 3 weeks at Christmas time, a week in the spring, several days in the fall and roughly 3 months in the summer. Is this info fairly accurate?=

    No, not accurate. Just because student’s are not in class does not mean the university ’shuts down,’ or faculty are not on campus and working. Stop by for a visit some day and see for yourself.

  37. - G'Kar - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 2:23 pm:

    To get a true picture of the damage being done to higher education, they need to create a similar fact sheet for the impact this is having on the state’s community colleges.

  38. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 2:23 pm:

    Shut down was a bad choice of words. No classes, no office hours for roughly 4+ months. There, that’s better.

    Likely a very abbreviated schedule during these periods. I mean, if profs and asst. profs have 3 hours of office time a week to see students DURING the period classes are in session……

  39. - State worker - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 3:00 pm:

    Most professors are required to divide their time between teaching, research, and service. For any of you who have ever taught, you know that full-time teaching is more than a full-time job. If you add in changing syllabi, new courses, and keeping up with reading in the field, it can expand to fill time and overtime.

    Yet, professors also help run the school through their department and university committees, advising, recruitment, and more–that’s all service.

    Most importantly, professors have to independent and excellent research. So, some professors teach full-time all year and then have to get all that other work done (including course development) in the summer. It’s impossible to do while teaching.

    Being a professor is like being an elected official. People expect you to be available all the time to answer questions, respond to emails, write recommendations for students from the past 20 years.

    It’s all good. But honestly, a 9 to 5 job would be WAY less work. It would be hard to keep up with the job if you were not dedicated and very hard-working.

    I’m sure there are lazy people. But I know more lazy people in other professions for sure. Teaching is not really for the lazy.

  40. - KV - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 3:01 pm:

    =No classes, no office hours for roughly 4+ months.=

    Not true. The longest class break most universities take is over the winter holiday (a maximum of three weeks). Other than that, there are two two-week breaks; one at the end of the spring term and one at the end of summer term (yes, there are classes all summer long - 13 weeks). That adds up to a maximum of 7 weeks of non-instruction time, not 4+ months.

  41. - Joe M - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 3:01 pm:

    If getting a PhD, and being a university professor, and teaching classes were easy, then why aren’t some of you critics doing it?

  42. - State worker - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 3:02 pm:

    Most importantly, professors have to demonstrate their own independent and excellent research.

  43. - Chicago Barb - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 4:08 pm:

    Ain’t a Fancy, the Governor DOES appoint members of the Board of Trustees, at least at UIUC.

  44. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 4:15 pm:

    KV, many do not teach during the summer.

  45. - Name Withheld - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 4:25 pm:

    ==KV, many do not teach during the summer.==

    True. Many of the professors I had in college were furthering the education in their field through training or working in various area and bringing prestige to their university through their participation.

    This line of argument, that teachers don’t do anything during the summer and don’t do anything on breaks is like saying doctors just sit around unless someone is sick.

  46. - JPC - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 5:15 pm:

    @the various anonymous–

    I think several have sufficiently pointed out the various ways professors work when not in the classroom.

    What’s the point of the continued questions?

    Here’s another analogy if the others were unsatisfactory. NFL players are on the field for maybe a couple of hours a season. Yet they get paid a ton and get the summer off. What gives?

  47. - Dutch 3001 - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 5:31 pm:

    I work for a public university. We cannot fill vacant faculty lines with high quality new faculty because–surprise!–the best candidates, the ones you really need to replace distinguished high quality retiring faculty, are well aware of what Rauner is doing to the universities in Illinois and won’t come here. The result is job searches that go no where, a reduced aging faculty, and a drop in student enrollment because they want to go someplace where can be taught and work with the best and brightest faculties in the country. And that ain’t Illinois. The damage Rauner had caused to the universities of this state is long term, systemic, and will take a generation to correct. And it is intentional.

  48. - AnonymousOne - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 5:40 pm:

    Dutch 3001, thank you. Your message is the important one.

    Our universities are a reflection of the values we hold in this state and the quality we aspire to. Rauner has disrespected them and therefore, our state’s reputation. How do you get free from this death spiral?

  49. - Motambe - Tuesday, Jun 27, 17 @ 6:51 pm:

    And for Anonymous, Dutch 3001, and AnonymousOne and others, another facet of talented, well-paid faculty and staff leaving universities and community colleges is the economic impact and financial drain on those host cities. Lost salaries equals lost spending, revenue, and tax dollars in those towns. Not to mention that many faculty and staff serve in volunteer and advisory positions for economic and community development committees, social agencies, and youth organizations. Some communities are losing valuable expertise as these employees leave for other states.

  50. - Hope for schools - Wednesday, Jun 28, 17 @ 7:58 am:

    Beth Purvis was heard saying the governor wants to shut the colleges down and have one university take them over specifically University of Illinois. Quote “It’s survival if the fittest. Seems more like a monopoly.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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