University News

April Budget Update: University Layoffs [4/13/16]

April 13, 2016


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Dear University Community,

Due to the budget impasse, which is now in its 10th month, it is with much regret that I announce additional layoffs of approximately 110 non-instructional staff at Western Illinois University. Individuals facing layoffs will be given the appropriate 30-day notice. Within the next week, those individuals who are impacted will receive a letter.

Other additional measures are also immediately necessary. As of this week, all appropriated budgets have been swept and funds from those accounts are being held at the vice presidential level. To further limit spending, all P-Card purchasing is suspended, unless authorized by the division's respective vice president. We must conserve all cash resources.

Despite the ongoing furlough/voluntary pay reduction program and the drastic reductions to spending, these layoffs are necessary to protect the University's cash resources. In spite of our best efforts to conserve financial resources, without an appropriation from our state government, the University will face even greater financial challenges. Should the impasse continue it would require that we make further spending and personnel decisions. We implore the leaders in Springfield to resolve this unprecedented budget crisis and recognize that our public universities are critical to the future of a stable and innovative Illinois. We need state funds to operate and to support the thousands of students we serve. The decisions we are being forced to make are incredibly difficult, and they are being made due to the lack of state support. We recognize that as the stewards of this University, our first responsibility is to take the necessary steps to ensure that we continue providing a great education to our students.

To date, for Fiscal Year 2016, the University has made appropriated budget reductions of over $6 million. More than 500 employees are participating in the mandatory furlough or pay reduction program, resulting in cost savings of over $1.5 million. However, we must continue to reduce our FY'16 expenses. We will fall short of our $4 million savings goal for Fiscal Year 2016, as we have been unable to achieve furlough agreements with all of our employees. Because there appears to be no end to this budget impasse in the immediate future, we must move forward with additional layoffs.

The Office of Human Resources will provide assistance to those employees who will be laid off. It is our hope that if, and when, a budget is passed for Fiscal Year 2016, we may be able to call back a select number of non-instructional employees. However, if the budget stalemate continues, additional layoffs and the extension of the furlough/pay reduction program will be necessary into Fiscal Year 2017. I am distressed that we have been placed in this position. I realize the effect this decision has not only on our University community, but also the local communities in which we reside.

While the end to the budget impasse is uncertain, what is certain is the future of Western Illinois University. Our doors will remain open, and we will continue to serve students and provide an affordable, accessible and quality education.

We need the legislators, government leaders, and the citizens of Illinois to realize the value of public higher education, particularly regional universities. Each person who has been touched by WIU has a story to tell. Those stories must be shared so that others realize the value we provide to this state and beyond. We educate, guide, and develop the future leaders of this state and this nation. Recently, the University was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for outperforming its peer institutions in enrolling and graduating Pell Grant recipients. Western is giving Pell Grant qualified students the opportunity to graduate.

A degree from Western Illinois University has great value. Please write and call your legislator and the state's governmental leaders to help them understand how important regional public universities are for this state. We will continue to work with legislative and state leaders to urge an end to this impasse and to pass a budget that adequately supports public higher education.

Again, I deeply regret that these layoffs must be implemented at our great institution. Thank you for your continued support, loyalty, and dedication.

Sincerely,

Jack Thomas
President

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations