University News

BOT Approves Staff Reduction Authorization

June 28, 2018

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- At a special meeting of the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees held today (June 28), the WIU Board voted to approve a staff reduction authorization through June 30, 2019.

The staff authorization approved by the Board allows University administration to follow layoff procedures set forth within the University Professionals of Illinois 4100 WIU Chapter agreement. The layoff notices, which provide a one-year advance notice, 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. According to Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathy Neumann, 62 vacant faculty positions that are open due to retirements and/or resignations will be eliminated, while layoff notices will be sent Friday, June 29 to 24 faculty, seven of which are tenured faculty, and an additional two non-faculty members within Academic Affairs.

"Making decisions that affect our employees are incredibly difficult. This directive we are putting forth to University leadership is not a decision we have made lightly as these decisions affect people, and we realize that at a later date there may be other employee groups affected by layoffs. The Board directs the University administration to make the decisions necessary," BOT Chair Cathy Early said. "Higher education institutions must continually reevaluate their methods of delivery and recalibrate to meet the ever-changing challenges and opportunities. We are making these decisions in order to reposition Western for future growth, viability and sustainability, while remaining fiscally responsible to our students and taxpayers.

"Faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and University advisory board members have asked what the University is doing to meet the changing nature of higher education. We are realigning resources to further build upon Western's programs that are highly sought after by our students and employers," Early added. "Throughout the institution's history, Western has re-adjusted according to the times. The current realities facing public higher education call for realignment."

Early added that while the University can no longer be all things to all people, Western's mission and students' academic progress will not be compromised by the decisions to realign the institution's educational opportunities.

"The Board of Trustees has charged University administration with implementing a plan that positions Western for growth and viability by aligning our resources with enrollment and state funding," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "Western is adapting to the changes facing public higher education. Changing the University's personnel structure is a difficult decision, and adapting to the new higher education landscape means making difficult decisions. An announcement will be made July 16 regarding the investments in academic programs that will keep Western on the leading edge and prepare our institution for growth.

"As the state returns to what we hope is an era of fair and predictable funding, Western is making greater investments in high demand programs. Western remains committed to addressing the needs of our community, our region, and beyond, and accommodating public demand by providing affordable, quality educational opportunities," Thomas added.

According to Al Bowman, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), Western Illinois University's initiatives for future growth align with the IBHE's statewide strategic plan for higher education.

"We are pleased to see that Western Illinois University, under the leadership of President Jack Thomas, continues to exercise mission-driven strategic planning, while remaining good fiscal stewards," added IBHE Chair Tom Cross. "The decisions announced today are necessary to meet the state's fiscal reality and will help Western as it continues to ensure its resources are in line with program demand and enrollment. The IBHE appreciates Western's due diligence and commitment to ensuring a successful and viable future for public higher education."

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