Programs under review announced at SGA


Mike Frederiksen

Kayla Trail

  The state budget was the topic of discussion Tuesday night as the Student Government Association (SGA) had guest speaker Joseph Rives, the Vice President of the Quad Cities and Planning, announce the eight majors that are on currently being reviewed for elimination at Western Illinois University.

 Rives opened the SGA meeting and began his presentation with a slideshow that focused solely on the state budget and how it affects Western.

“Reduce Expenditures” was the title of one of the slides that said the enacted Academic Program Elimination Review (APER) committee “makes recommendations based on trends in enrollment, majors, course offerings, and program costs. If program(s) are closed, they are phased out. Program savings are realized in FY18 and beyond.”

 “We are also looking at programs to be reduced,” Rives said. “These are the programs, again, there’s a committee that makes recommendations so I’m not here to say they are or are not coming off the books. But most importantly to you, if your major is here, you will be allowed to finish your major, so whatever the outcome you will be able to finish your major.”

 The majors that are up for review to be eliminated are: African American Studies, Geography, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Women’s Studies, Bilingual/Bicultural Education, Public Health and Musical Theatre.

 Rives’ slideshow also consisted of multiple slides that reiterated what President Jack Thomas has been saying in meetings since the budget issue began. One slide listed how Western is responding to the state’s budget instability by “Restricted spending to immediate needs, monitored travel requests and expenditures and limited replacement hiring. As a result, WIU established and maintained a 1-2 percent contingency reserve fund.”

 Western reduced state spending by $14.2 million in personnel and $2.7 million in operating. The way that Rives described it is that the university has cut as much as they could in operations.

 “This slide shows you where we choose to spend our money,” Rives said. “We could either put it in peoples paychecks or in the operations of the institution. If you think of the dollar, 80 cents on our dollar goes to personnel costs and only 20 cents on the dollar goes to operating. We’ve cut all the operating that there is to cut.”

 Western also received “10 year reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, receiving the highest level, with no follow ups or reports” between the fiscal years (FY) of 2011-2015.

As for workforce and class sizes the slideshow read, “While the University reduced 72 (3.1%) of the undergraduate courses offered in fall 2015. The average undergraduate course size was 20.7 in fall 2014 and 20.2 in fall 2015.”

“So some people that used to work year round, will now only work 11 of the 12 months,” Rives said. “We have announced that there are going to be some positions that are laid off until we get a budget and beginning in January, Dr. Thomas, myself and the other vice presidents and the deans all took voluntary pay reductions. I for example am taking a month with no pay all in the name to save this great university. You’ll also hear from staff that they have been furloughed, and to be furloughed means you’re forced to take a day off with no pay.”

There is a furlough and voluntary pay reduction plan as of FY16, “includes 479/1,101 non-negotiated employees. Excludes 264 employees due to annual income levels, 358 employees not paid from appropriated funds.”

For the future of Western and FY17 as well as FY18, they are planning parameters. “1. We will be guided by our strategic planning, 2. will continue to make very difficult but necessary decisions, 3. our decisions will respect our students, 4. our decision making will reflect the core value of social responsibility and respect for” administrative process, shared governance, good faith bargaining, 5. we will continue to: do what is best for Western Illinois University, Ensure a strong and viable university that exists to serve students and its host communities for decades to come.”