Vice President of Administrative Services speaks on layoffs


Josh Purnell/Courier Staff

William Polley speaks at the weekly SGA meeting.

Marc Ramirez, edge editor

The Student Government Association opened their meeting with a larger turnout than usual and a guest speech by William Polley, the Interim Vice President for Administrative Services at Western Illinois University since May of 2018. Before moving up the administrative levels at Western, Polley served as a dean in the College of Business and Technology for four years and has previously served as a faculty member in the Department of Economics and Decision Sciences since 2005. He has also taught at Bradley University and received his PhD from the University of Iowa.

“In the past year that I’ve been in the Vice President’s Office, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit with as many students as I used to when I was a faculty member,” Polley said. Polley started by explaining what the Vice President of Administrative Services does and talks about some of the challenges Western has been facing. He began by stating that student services and academic affairs are the two main vice presidents that students communicate with due to the fact that classes and professors as well as students fall under these categories.

“Administrative Services does affect you as well because facilities management falls under administrative services,” Polley said. “All of the upkeep, maintenance, OPS, Human Resources, the Business Services Office, Billing and Receivables all fall under our area.”

Polley explains that because he oversees the Business Services Office, he works very closely with the Budget Office. He continues to say that Letisha Trepac is the Budget Director therefore she is in charge of the budget and projections concerning the budget.

“The challenges that Western Illinois University is facing are financial and caused by forces that have been to a large extent, for many years, out of our control,” Polley said. “One area that has really affected us in the last 15 years is our state appropriation. The University has a total budget of over 200 million dollars per year.”

There are a little over 100 million dollars in the appropriated budget which used to be about 60 percent funded by the state and 40 percent by tuition dollars. Today, those percentages are nearly switched. This puts a lot of pressure on students and the state as it is becoming reliant on tuition dollars for the institution to thrive.

“When you put that together with the declining enrollment that the University has seen over the last decade or more, it’s not hard to see that our total appropriated budget has declined and has continued to face pressure as enrollment has continued to shrink and as money from the state is still uncertain,” Polley said.

Polley goes on to say that things were better for students before the budget impasse; the University was shorted nearly 40 million dollars compared to what they would have received under normal circumstances for the two years the impasse was in effect.

“In 2016 we did have a series of layoffs and we took other measures to reduce our expenditures,” Polley said. “After the budget impasse, we continued to see our appropriations fall. Our appropriation the next year FY18 was about 10 percent below what it had been in 2015. This year they’ve given us about a two percent increase off of that, so were still about eight percent down from 2015.”

Since the pressure on our revenue has created a budget deficit over the last couple of years, it became necessary for the University to take additional measures once again to reduce expenditures according to Polley. Those expenditure reductions have taken place in a number of different ways. Operating budgets academic and nonacademic have been reduced, ways of travel for faculty have been approved less and a number of layoffs have been instituted across the University.

“The layoffs are necessary to reduce that expenditure,” Polley said. “The University’s budget is mostly personnelle, especially the appropriated budget with a small amount of operating. Operating we can cut on some things, we can reduce the maintenance down to a minimum, but every time we get a snowstorm it will cost several thousand dollars. Upwards of $10,000 per snowstorm when we think about salt, overtime, equipment and things like that. So it has not been a good year in the weather department which means we’ve had to cut back in additional ways.”

Polley continues to say that the operating budget is a small part of the budget where the vast majority is personnelle, faculty and staff alike. He says that is the reason we’ve had to implement these faculty layoffs. For some employees, the layoffs can be effective as soon as 30 days or as late as six months and for faculty generally the next academic year.

“I hope that explains the basic lay of the land, so to speak, as far as what the University is up against financially.” Polley said.