University grapples with state budget uncertainties

Hundred-dollar bills spiraling into a vortex


University administrators continue to prepare for budget cuts for fiscal year 2016, which began July 1, but the size of those cuts remains uncertain, vice president Walter Knorr told the University of Illinois Board of Trustees Thursday.

The legislative budget — which was largely vetoed in June by Gov. Bruce Rauner — called for a $57 million reduction in state funds to the University of Illinois. Rauner’s budget address in February included a $209 million cut to the university’s state appropriation.

“The state budget remains at an impasse,” said Knorr, chief financial officer and comptroller, at the board meeting Thursday in Student Center West.

“What we’re looking at are two ends of the goal post here — a $57 million reduction or the $209 million reduction. If we’re in the middle, or wide right or wide left, remains to be seen.”

A hiring freeze was put into effect for the university administration July 1, Knorr said, and potential salary increases for the current fiscal year are undetermined. Administrators continue to meet payroll for university employees with existing resources, he said.

University President Tim Killeen announced in an email Tuesday that administrators have deferred a decision on salaries until the state budget is set.

Reappointments will be made at current salary levels, Killeen said.

“Each week that passes without a state budget from Springfield clouds the near-term future and leaves us unable to finalize the university’s fiscal 2016 operating budget,” Killeen wrote. “We do not know how long the statehouse budget impasse will last.

The state still owes the university $114 million for fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30. “That I expect to collect,” Knorr said. “It was fully appropriated.”


New medical school in Urbana

The board approved an affiliation agreement with the Carle Foundation to create the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, a new College of Medicine on the Urbana-Champaign campus. The board approved the medical school at its March 12 meeting.

Under the agreement, Carle will pay $50 million over the next five years for startup costs and another $50 million after the school earns provisional accreditation.

The university plans to raise $135 million in gifts from donors over the next eight years to pay for the new college, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018 and operate without state funding.

The agreement is a step toward accreditation of the new engineering-centered medical school. It must also be approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


2015 University of Illinois student trustees

2015 University of Illinois student trustees, L-R: Jauwan Hall, UIC; Jaylin McClinton, UIUC; Dominique Wilson, UIS.

New student trustees

The board welcomed three new student trustees, who will serve through June 30. The three were elected by students at their campuses.

Jauwan Hall, a senior in political science and the Honors College, represents UIC; Jaylin McClinton, a junior in African-American studies and political science, is student trustee for the Urbana-Champaign campus; and Dominique Wilson, a junior in communication, will represent the Springfield campus. Gov. Rauner designated Wilson as the student trustee with voting authority.

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