BOT Approves Staff Reduction Authorization
January 25, 2016
MACOMB, IL -- At a special meeting of the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees held today (Jan. 25), the WIU Board voted to approve a staff reduction authorization through June 30, 2017. The Board, at the request of President Jack Thomas, postponed the staff reduction authorization resolution at its Dec. 18, 2015 until a special Board of Trustees meeting at a later date.
The authorization approved by the Board allows University administration to follow layoff procedures set forth within the University Professionals of Illinois 4100 WIU Chapter agreement. Employee notices will be sent in accordance with the agreement and any mutually agreed upon extensions. The last date of employment is dependent upon the dates outlined within the agreement.
"The integrity of Western's mission and students' academic progress will not be impeded by these unfortunate circumstances," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "Like our fellow state institutions, WIU continues to experience cost increases and unfunded state mandates, coupled with declines and delays in state appropriated funding and lower student enrollment, resulting in significant fiscal challenges. The current and the unprecedented state budget impasse further compound this difficult situation, requiring the University to make difficult decisions to address the serious challenges facing our great institution."
There are approximately 646 faculty at WIU, according to the WIU Fact Book published by Institutional Research and Planning.
"As members of the Board of Trustees, each member has a statutory responsibility to 'operate, manage, control, and maintain the University. In keeping with that responsibility, the Board has charged the University administration to take necessary steps to ensure long-term solvency. Members of the Board understand and support the administration in carrying out its duty," WIU Board Chair Roger Clawson said at the meeting. "The current budget impasse, reduced state appropriations and declining enrollment have forced the University administration to make incredibly difficult decisions, including cutting costs and realigning the institution to meet current student enrollment. These cost reductions and realignment measures have impacted staff at all levels, and departments and divisions across the University. Each member of the Board understands that these decisions have been hard to make. While these decisions have been difficult, the alternative -- not having a Western Illinois University at all -- is unthinkable."
Clawson added the University is not unique in its challenges.
"Over the past months, you have undoubtedly read or heard about the budget crises facing many post-secondary institutions in Illinois, and the trustees, presidents and chancellors from Illinois universities agree that the budget stalemate is damaging public higher education beyond repair," he said. "In attempts to overcome declines in budgets and enrollment, these institutions have been forced to reduce costs through long-term measures which, unfortunately, include layoffs. Faculty and staff at these institutions continue to work with their university administration to come up with solutions that address the grave new reality of higher education in our state. The Board of Trustees takes its responsibility to safeguard the longevity of Western Illinois University seriously, and, with your help, we will move this great University forward."
Thomas added that the University cannot afford to maintain the hope that it will realize a substantial increase in future revenue from the state or from enrollment increases.
"We must realize immediate savings to ensure that cash flow is maintained. The question becomes: how will we realize our savings?", Thomas said. "We have significantly reduced operating expenditures and WIU is a very efficient university, operating well below state averages on instructional and administrative costs per credit hour. However, we must realign our staffing to address this disparity for short-term operations and the long-term sustainability of Western Illinois University."
See President Thomas' full remarks at wiu.edu/president/letters.php.