Financial outcome uncertain for state, university

State universities could face $9 million to $12 million in extra expenses because of federal spending and new laws, SIU President Glenn Poshard said.

These sums could be reached if the government reaches the metaphorical fiscal cliff, he said at Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Poshard said the American Association of State Colleges will release its annual list of state

universities’ greatest problems this January, and state funding is a strong concern. He said 36 states faced reduced funding this year, and 15 states had double-digit reductions.

“The greatest pressure point (on higher education) will come from Medicaid spending,” he said.

Most states estimate Medicaid spending will increase by 20 percent, Poshard said, and some have estimated Medicaid increases up to 29 percent for the upcoming fiscal year.

“In 2002, we were receiving

$248 million appropriation form the state of Illinois,” he said. “This year, we’re receiving $203 million.”

Poshard said upcoming pension reform policies could give the university spending burdens.

“The universities will undoubtedly assume some of the (pension) responsibilities that the state currently has,” Poshard said. “We’ve got sequestration at the federal level. No one knows what’s going to happen with that.”

State universities proposed potential scenarios to fix monetary issues, and Poshard said the best

outcome would be flat funding, while the worst-case scenario would be a 10-percent budget cut.

“We don’t know where it’s going to fall,” he said. “There’s now a consensus that it may take years for state funding levels for higher education to reach prerecession levels.”

The state wants the university to boost student success without affecting equality, but the university has to supplement a state funding cut by university cost increases, he said.

Security costs could also raise

because of the state Appellate Court’s decision to require a concealed carry law, Poshard said.

BOT Chair John Simmons said the state must be more efficient.

“We treat education exactly like we did in 1900,” he said. “You still go to university. You still go to class. There have been monstrous changes in technology and every other aspect of life.”

Simmons said he would like to sit down with other trustees and discuss how to update policies.

“Don’t worry about any insularly issues for the time being,” he said. “Just, ‘What kind of institution do I want to have?’ Get that question answered, and then go back and look at what you’ve got and figure out how you transition from what you’ve got to what you want.”

Other trustee reports included enrollment updates and university achievements.

Chancellor Rita Cheng said application submissions are 12 percent higher than they were during the same week of last year. However, transfer student applications are fairly flat, which is an issue Cheng said demonstrates a relatively unchanging southern Illinois community college enrollment.

“Our far more aggressive marketing efforts, particularly in the Chicago area,

are showing results,” she said.
The university also received Insight into

Diversity magazine’s inaugural excellence award. Other recipients include Georgia State, Michigan State, the Air Force Academy, and the University of Texas at Austin, she said.

“We are known all over the world for the diversity that we have,” Cheng said. “In submitting the application it was pretty easy to list the programs we have and the success of our graduates. I would have been very disappointed if we hadn’t been in the group, because that’s what we’re known for.”

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About Karsten Burgstahler

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at kburgstahler@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext.255.

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