by Chancellor Richard Ringeisen
This week President White and CFO Walter Knorr presented a report to the Board of Trustees about the university’s financial situation. The president has asked all three campuses, plus the central administration, to prepare for a budget rescission of up to 10 percent during this fiscal year. That means a $2.3 million set-aside for UIS. It doesn’t mean we are cutting our budget by that amount now. It does mean we are setting money aside as we wait to see how the state’s financial picture develops in the next five months.
Among the guiding principles at all three campuses in setting money aside:
All of that saves us money. But getting to the 10 percent set-aside requires us to go further. A high percentage of our budget goes to salaries and wages, and on all three campuses the last thing we would want to do is implement layoffs. There is a lot we can do before reaching that point. So we have looked for places where “cash” is available this year and have set that money aside. This is restricting “operating funds” in all of the university’s divisions. I am well aware that these set-asides and possible givebacks will cause hardship and dash some plans to make progress in several areas.
I also know there has been some talk about voluntary furloughs. They are still under consideration.
Members of the Chancellor’s Cabinet have been talking to unit directors and staff throughout the campus about these issues in recent weeks. Such conversations and openness are critical during these unprecedented difficult times.
That is why we are planning an open campus forum on budget issues. Everyone in the UIS community is invited, and release time will apply for staff. The open forum is scheduled for 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday, January 21, in Brookens Auditorium. Provost Harry Berman and I will give a brief presentation, but mostly we want to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you have. We have already met with the Campus Senate and Academic Professional Advisory Committee executive committees and appreciated their understanding, concern and questions.
I am confident that we will make it through these times in pursuit of our vision to become one of the top five small public liberal arts universities in the nation.
We are all in this together, not only on our campus, but in our state and in the nation. These are unprecedented times, and we must continue to pull together.
I am very pleased with those of you who worked so hard on retention and recruitment in the fall of 2008. We said last summer and fall that retention is important to all of us. Some of you removed the caps on enrollment in courses; some created new initiatives to work with students in order to retain these students this spring; and some put extra time into recruiting graduate students. All of these efforts seem to have served us well in terms of doing the most we can for our students and for our budget situation. And we must continue all of them because recruitment and retention remain critical to our future.
Thanks again for all you’re doing. Let’s continue the conversation at the open forum.
Richard D. Ringeisen