Today's Massmail from University President Tim Killeen highlighted how going into a second year without a state budget will affect the U of I and, consequently, our community.
The General Assembly yesterday adjourned for the second straight year without reaching agreement with the governor on funding to support the University of Illinois system and public higher education across our state. These consecutive failures in Springfield are unprecedented in Illinois history.
Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders have pledged to continue negotiations, but I am gravely concerned about the implications for our students, our faculty and staff and our campuses if we are forced to weather another protracted period without adequate funding from the state.
This great university system is not in danger of shutting its doors, but a crisis is worsening nonetheless.
We are now 11 months into fiscal 2016 with only stopgap funding that will provide about a quarter of the nearly $650 million in state funding that we received the year before. Now, we face the prospect of a new fiscal year with no state support.
To date, we have weathered the shortfall responsibly through significant cost-saving initiatives, structural reforms and prudent financial management. But we cannot withstand a continued loss of state funding without considerable damage to our core missions – teaching, research, public service and economic development.
All options are on the table as we go forward – layoffs, reductions of academic programs, closure of units and cuts in a health-care enterprise that provides critical care to underserved populations in Chicago. All would damage the very core of our mission to serve students and the public good, and erode a rich, 150-year legacy of academic excellence and economic impact that would be far more costly to rebuild than sustain.
We will continue to do everything in our power to preserve the world-class quality that is synonymous with the University of Illinois, ramping up efforts that have been underway for well over a year to advocate at every turn for the interests of our students, our employees and the people and families of Illinois. I hope all of you will join us, and I will update you as the budget process unfolds.