University News

Thomas: Higher Education Appropriations Testimony

May 22, 2019

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- On May 2 and May 9, Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas discussed WIU's budget and other fiscal topics at the Illinois House and Senate Higher Educations Appropriations Committees, respectively, for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget testimonies.

"Last September, our former Board of Trustees voted to request a $17.2 million increase (36.5 percent) over our FY19 appropriation, for a total request of $64.5 million. As we sit in front of you, we are conscious of the fiscal condition of the State and request adequate and appropriate funding for our operations," Thomas told legislators. "The Governor's budget recommendation of a 5 percent increase for the public universities would equate to approximately $2.4 million more than what was received last year, but would be $1.9 million less than what we received in Fiscal Year 2015. This amount would be used toward sustaining current operations, including deferred maintenance needs, increasing student financial aid and mitigating the recent loss of income. Any increase in state appropriation would be greatly appreciated."

Thomas added that over the past several years, WIU has taken multiple steps in order to adjust to diminishing financial resources from both the budget impasse and the reduction in operational funding from Fiscal Year 2002 through present.

Thomas also shared that despite these funding challenges, WIU continues to accomplish, and excel in, many things.

"There are many accomplishments that demonstrate Western's values and highlight the transformational educational experience we provide. For example, our engineering graduates achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the certification exam, our nursing graduates have a 100 percent job placement rate, musical theatre major Nissi Smith won the Musical Theatre Intensive category at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, DC, senior biology major Mariah Dicksen has been named a winner in the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program and our Honors program enrollment has doubled in the past eight years and is over 1,000 students, while maintaining the highest of standards and positioning Honors students to compete for prestigious awards and scholarships at the national level," Thomas said. "We serve a diverse student population and provide outstanding services for minority, low-income and first generation students.

"We take great pride in our commitment to student, faculty and staff diversity in its broadest sense. This University is a reflection of the diverse world in which we live," he added. "Education transforms lives for the better and is a proven pathway to upward mobility. We respectfully ask for appropriate FY20 funding that will allow us to continue our mission of educating our greatest asset in Illinois, our citizens."

Thomas' full testimony can be found at here.

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Office of University Relations