EIU lays off 200 workers after waiting months for state funding

Notices went out last week

Eastern Illinois University (EIU) is cutting back in the midst of a state budget impasse that is withholding appropriations for higher education across Illinois, Stefanie Botelho reports for University Business.

According to Jonathan Blitz, president of the University Professionals of Illinois Eastern Chapter, 30-day layoff notices were sent to about 200 civil service employees last week.

EIU is not the only university in Illinois facing major budget cuts; all public colleges and universities in Illinois have been operating since July 1 without a state appropriation.

In a Jan. 25 letter to the campus community, EIU President David Glassman said the state government "is literally starving public universities."

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He wrote, "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 also announced a number of immediate cost-saving efforts, including:

  • Delaying all deferred maintenance and repairs that are unrelated to safety and security or have been paid for;
  • Delaying all non-instructional capital projects;
  • Freezing all hiring that involves FY 2016 funding;
  • Freezing employee-reimbursed travel with minimal exceptions;
  • Stopping all non-instructional capital equipment purchases; and
  • Stopping all non-instructional supply purchases without vice presidential approval.

Blitz says without state funding, "it's only a matter of time until universities start shutting down." He notes that Chicago State University "is talking about shutting down" by March 1, adding that "other universities can't be far behind."

State Rep. Reggie Phillips (R), who represents EIU in the Illinois House, says, "We could say to the universities, 'You've been blowing money and your administration is too high.' But for me in my district, if you look at Eastern Illinois University and you look at their numbers, they're the best of all the universities" (Botelho, University Business, 2/4).

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