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President Jack Thomas and WIU students met with legislators and key leaders in Springfield this week. Thomas and other university presidents also met with Gov. Rauner Thursday.
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Springfield Meetings Update

October 23, 2015

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Dear University Community,

On Tuesday, the other public university presidents and I met with Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, and Senate President John Cullerton. Yesterday, we met with Gov. Bruce Rauner. The purpose of these one-on-one sessions with General Assembly leadership and the governor was to discuss the impact of the budget impasse on public higher education and to urge our leaders to provide support and resources for higher education.

While we recognize that Illinois continues to have difficult financial decisions to consider, higher education must remain at the forefront of discussions, and we must protect the ability for Western and other state universities to deliver a quality education to all of our citizens. It is also important to remind the leadership in Springfield that our public universities serve as economic engines for our respective regions. The overall economic impact WIU has on the local 16-county area is over $377 million annually. Higher education must receive adequate and consistent support.

During our discussion with these key legislative leaders and the governor, we stressed the importance of solving the budget impasse so we can continue to provide outstanding educational opportunities to more than 200,000 students within the state's nine public universities. As noted in a recent letter from university presidents to Gov. Rauner and house and senate leaders, requiring the public universities to operate without a budget appropriation is unsustainable. This message was repeated in person during our meetings this week. The budget impasse is damaging our state.

I am encouraged by the meetings we had with Gov. Rauner and the legislators. They are committed to and support public higher education. We remain hopeful that a budget will be passed in the near future and that higher education will receive the funding it needs and deserves.

In addition to the presidents' meetings this week, nearly 100 WIU students, including Western's Student Government Association leaders, joined other public university students from across the state in Springfield on Oct. 20. The students met with legislators to share stories about their educational journeys at public universities, and to discuss a resolution to the impasse. The students also stressed the need to protect public education for future generations of students, and the importance of higher education in the development of the state and local economy.

I will continue to keep our University community apprised as we continue to meet with our state's leaders. Thank you for your continued support and dedication.

Jack Thomas, Ph.D.

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations