CHARLESTON -- The president of Eastern Illinois University on Monday warned of potentially hundreds of layoffs and furlough time for employees if the State of Illinois' budget stalemate continues much longer.
He also laid out a list of immediate cost-cutting measures.
President David Glassman sent a letter to the campus community with a budget update, blaming the state's fiscal woes directly for EIU's dire monetary straits.
"Our state government is literally starving its public universities," Glassman said in the letter. "Incredibly, the state’s legislature and governor have yet to approve a state budget for FY16. This unprecedented action means that EIU has not received any of our annual appropriation (typically around $40 million), nor MAP reimbursement for EIU students (approximately $9 million)."
Noting that budget cuts last fall added up to about $10 million, Glassman also reminded the campus community that the university's budget rests on the assumption of "receiving our state appropriation and MAP reimbursements, and that has unfortunately not happened."
He said the university watched operating expenses, using tuition income and cash reserves, during the first half of the fiscal year in order to financially reach into the spring semester without state funds.
But even after pinching pennies in awaiting a state budget, Glassman said EIU leaders now have outlined additional specific actions to get the university through the spring semester financially "while ensuring our educational mission and preserving funds to meet payroll."
Glassman identified immediate cuts across the board at EIU.
"We will implement the actions of halting all non-instructional capital equipment purchases; delaying all deferred maintenance and repairs that are either unrelated to safety and security or already paid for; delaying all non-instructional capital projects; halting all non-instructional supply purchases without vice presidential approval; freezing employee-reimbursed travel with minimal exception such as for required federal or governmental purposes; and freezing all hiring that involves FY16 funding," Glassman wrote. "Any exception will need presidential approval."
Further failure of state leaders to approve a budget, which Illinois has been without since last July, will mean more severe cuts for EIU, Glassman warned.
"If an appropriation continues to be delayed further into the semester, we will need to temporarily and/or permanently lay off hundreds of non-instructional employees and mandate unpaid furlough days to others beginning in March," Glassman wrote. "Call backs will occur immediately after an appropriation is enacted and funds have begun to be received by the university.
"I am hopeful that a state budget or higher education appropriation soon will be finally enacted," he added. "However, we cannot rely on optimism alone and must begin unfailingly to preserve our funds for instruction and employee payroll in the case our appropriation is further delayed or not received at all."
Glassman said the university's mission remains the same, and its faculty and staff will work as always to fulfill that mission.
"We will continue to provide our students excellent learning, service and research opportunities without diminishing academic excellence during the current semester and for many years to come," Glassman wrote. "EIU is ranked the top regional public university in Illinois by U.S. News and World Report and we are committed to maintaining the focus on student success that earned us that spot."
He asked university employees to rally even in the face of the financial woes.
"The actions of the budgetary impasse in Springfield are testing our resolve and fortitude to meet the needs of our students," Glassman wrote. "I call upon everyone’s cooperation to remain strong and positive in attitude for our students and our beloved university as we await our lawmakers and governor to authorize state support for public higher education.
"Together, we will get through this challenging time and after which, return to our pathway to success."