President's Update Letter
February 24, 2004
Dear Campus Community,
As we approach the middle of the spring semester, I wanted to take the opportunity to update the campus.
As you are probably aware, the governor presented his FY05 operational budget this past week. In that budget, institutions of higher education had their general revenue support reduced, in most cases, by 2 percent. For our campus, that is a reduction of just over 1.1 million dollars. That means that since FY02, if we include our health insurance obligations, our state support has been reduced by almost $12 million.
Still, given the difficult budgetary times, we are appreciative of the support that the governor has provided in the budget for our Quad Cities initiative. There is a $300,000 base increase recommended so that we can hire additional faculty and staff for that campus.
In terms of the impact of the FY05 reduction, I have indicated that we will review our tuition increase recommendation to the Board in light of decrease in state support. Of course, we will continue to guarantee tuition, room and board, and fees for all students. This program has made Western an extremely affordable institution. For example, this year our juniors and seniors are paying the lowest tuition among all students at public institutions in Illinois.
Since we will also need to meet our contractual agreement with the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), I have asked all of the Vice Presidents to begin reviewing a 2 percent reallocation in order to meet the budgetary shortfall and to provide salary increases of 3.5 percent. In addition, we will continue to review individually the filling of all non-instructional positions.
I have also received many questions about our capital projects. The governor will make his capital budget address on March 23. We have been told to resume the planning for the Memorial Hall rehabilitation and $200,000 has been released toward the architectural and engineering work for renovating the John Deere riverfront property in the Quad Cities. We are also partnering with Macomb on the Murray Street repairs. We are very thankful that in these difficult budgetary times the governor has been supportive of these much needed projects. We will also continue to politic for our Performing Arts Center and for the additional funding to complete the renovation of the first building on our new Quad Cities campus.
As for this current budget year, we have not had a rescission, nor has one been announced. Still, I have asked all of the Vice Presidents to work with their deans and directors to spend carefully and to work with the budget office on contingency planning. I believe this is only prudent given our experiences over the past few years.
Finally, many of you have heard that the new ethics law has implications for our employees. We are reviewing the new legislation including record keeping expectations and annual ethics training. We will be reporting on the new legislation to our Board this March. In all cases, we are going to work to make any new processes as simple and unobtrusive as possible. However, we will be obligated to keep these records and make them available to state authorities if requested.
Please know that I appreciate the support and assistance I continue to receive during these difficult budgetary times. We have worked hard to support our instructional mission, provide salary increases to employees, and protect positions. We will continue to make these our priorities in the coming fiscal year. Again, thanks so much.
Alvin Goldfarb, President