Cuts coming to Western

Erika Ward

 Western Illinois University released a statement on Friday announcing that 100 faculty and staff members are being cut along with the implementation of multiple other cost-saving measures to cut $20 million over the next two fiscal years.

 “We are making decisions that will preserve the educational enterprise,” said Western President Jack Thomas in a release.

 According to a release from University Relations, “Various strategies to conserve resources will be implemented in Fiscal Year 2017 including reducing contracts from 12 to 11 or 10 months for select administrative positions; closing and/or combining select offices/units; reducing 100 personnel (faculty and staff) across divisions; implementing a hiring freeze (effective immediately); and reducing the hours of various offices/units.”

 According to Darcie Shinberger at University Relations, the number includes the faculty members who have already received layoff notices.

 “However, the possibilities of additional layoffs will be developed as FY 17 proceeds,” she said.

 A list of potential employees affected has not been released yet.

 Shinberger also said that both the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses are being evaluated and reviewed.

 According to Western’s website, there are currently 1699 full time employees at the Macomb campus, while the Quad Cities campus only employs 115.

 Western also announced that non-negotiated personnel (personnel that is not covered by unions) will be taking mandatory furloughs starting April 1.  According to the release, more information will be released about furloughs next week.

 “Because there is not a present path toward ending the budget impasse, we must move forward with plans to put furloughs into place for non-negotiated personnel,” Thomas said in the statement. “Additionally, we have upcoming contractual salary increases scheduled with collective bargaining units, and thus, we must move forward with further FY 17 reductions to protect our ability to implement these increases. “

 On Dec. 8 during the budget address, Thomas announced that 50 faculty members would potentially receive layoff notices, but the number was later reduced and was proposed and brought before the Board of Trustees (BOT) who approved the number earlier in January.

 The state of Illinois is currently in its eighth month of the fiscal year and none of the public universities have received funding from the state. Appropriations from the state have been reduced by $107 million (8.2 percent) since FY 2011.

 According to the release, Thomas said the cuts are necessary for the university.

“Without these reductions, we risk jeopardizing the entire enterprise,” Thomas said. “Furloughs and reductions in personnel and programs are necessary to protect the overall University and this community. We are committed to protecting as many jobs as possible.”

In an effort to alleviate some costs of the university, Western offered a retirement incentive at the end of 2015 and approved 59 retirees, which, according to Thomas, costs $1.7 million now but will save $1.5 million annually.

“We will continue to do what is best for this institution to ensure a strong and viable university that exists to serve students and its host communities for decades to come,” Thomas said. “Our hope is that our governmental leaders will end this unprecedented impasse and recognize that our public universities need our state funds to operate and continue to support our students.”

Western is currently not alone in the struggle to keep afloat, as Chicago State University (CSU) is cancelling spring break for their students and shortening the year and removing summer classes. On top of that, CSU announced earlier today that all 900 of their employees, including the university president, received layoff notices.

Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman also announced earlier this week that 177 employees would be laid off due to a lack of state funding because of the budget impasse.

“We must brace for the difficult times ahead,” Thomas said. “We must protect the cash resources of the University in order to continue to provide services to our students and prepare for fall 2016.”