SIU president: University will struggle to finish FY17 if no more state funding
SIU President Randy Dunn said while the university system received $106 million for fiscal year 2017 through June’s stopgap budget, SIU will struggle to get through FY17 if it doesn’t see any more state appropriations.
“In the event that — shall we say that worst case scenario should happen — the SIU picture is such that we would have a difficult time as a system getting all the way through the fiscal year,” Dunn said during the first SIU Board of Trustees meeting of the semester Thursday in Edwardsville.
While it would be tough, Dunn said the administration could probably find a way to finish the fiscal year, which runs through June 30.
“But it would be very much nip and tuck,” he said. “If you kind of figure that tuition and fee revenue was the only source to go to without state appropriation at all, we’re looking at $20 to $30 million a month that we’re not covered.”
SIU doesn’t want to use emergency funds or bond reserve funds, such as some other Illinois institutions have looked at doing, because it would only buy the university about a month of time at best, Dunn said.
But for now, the university president said, the board is waiting to see what changes the upcoming elections bring for the state in its time of financial crisis.
“All that is to say, it’s going to be very tight this year if nothing else happens,” Dunn said.
Enrollment at SIUC
During the meeting, SIUC interim Chancellor Brad Colwell said his main focus is increasing enrollment after a 7.6 percent drop compared to last fall was announced Tuesday. Enrollment at the Carbondale campus this semester is the lowest it has been since 1965, university data shows.
While SIUC enrollment continues its steady downward trend, enrollment in all academic units at the Edwardsville campus have increased by 1 to 7 percent, SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook said.
Factors contributing to Carbondale’s enrollment drop includes an understaffed admissions office, decline in out-of-state students, reductions in graduate assistantships and the state’s financial crisis, Colwell said.
In order to expand outreach, eight new admissions staff were hired within the last several months, Colwell said.
The now fully-staffed office plans to visit every high school and community college in Illinois, while also traveling to a number of schools in surrounding states in the hopes of increasing student numbers next year.
So far this year, SIU’s flagship campus has received more than 1,000 applications for fall 2017, the chancellor said. At this time last year, Colwell said, no applications had yet been received because the application system hadn’t been opened. It was opened in June this year, he said.
“Enrollment is a partnership that involves everyone on campus as well as our alumni, our community and our region,” Colwell said. “We’ve got to do a better job telling our story, because we’re a great campus.”
The trustees also discussed the need for a more viable and affordable housing plan.
“One of the impediments I think to recruitment in Carbondale is housing … and particularly the towers,” Dunn said.
SIU’s president said more than two years ago, a $70 to $80 million housing plan was proposed but has since been scrapped.
University staff is analyzing options for funding the new housing, Dunn said, and hope to have a student housing plan ready for approval by the Dec. 8 board meeting, which will be in Carbondale.
“It’s going to be the best in the state,” Joel Sambursky, the board’s secretary and chair of the board’s architecture and design committee, said of SIU’s housing. “It’s time to get it done. We’ve got to get it done.”
What do people think about SIU?
The university is also compiling data about SIU’s perception from alumni, students, prospective students and staff, university spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said.
This information, which will include feedback from students who were admitted to SIU but decided to enroll in classes elsewhere, will likely be compiled within the next few months, she said.