Faculty Senate optimistic about enrollment, budget

By Matt Daray


The future of the campus was the topic of Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting.

The likelihood of increased fall enrollment, the university budget, the technology upgrades being made to the campus and the Student Services Building were focal points of the day.


Chancellor Rita Cheng said the university’s budget for the upcoming fall semester is under control and in the best shape it has been for awhile.

“This is the first year that we don’t have a budget crisis on the campus since I arrived,” she said. “We have a modest tuition increase for the new students only, a flat appropriation from the state and some expenses we need to address, including utilities and student support and our own two percent salary increase.”

Cheng said the university has generated a fair amount of money from grants and awards, which brings the university’s budget up to $52 million. She said some of the money the university received came from almost $5 million from 43 awards this May, a $1 million grant for adopted and foster care training and a two and a half year federal grant for research on hearing loss.

Freshmen enrollment reports also show an increase in the number of probable enrolled freshmen in the fall semester, Cheng said.

“Our freshmen enrollment, as of Monday, is 190 students larger than the same time a year ago,” she said. “That’s a ten percent growth.”

Cheng said staff members are doing everything they can to keep students interested in staying enrolled. She said the projected increase in enrollment comes from data such as increased housing numbers around the university and larger numbers of students attending orientations.

There has also been a small increase in the number of masters and doctoral students at the university, she said.


Provost John Nicklow said there are 14,200 applications to the university at this time, which is a vast improvement from last year at this time.

“Our goal right now, and it’s a realistic goal, is to bring in the largest freshman class SIU has ever seen,” he said.

Nicklow said while transfers are low, the university is trying to make up for that with new students. He said the university is now focused on the fall semester and sent out 1.2 million pieces of search materials to prospective students.

Nicklow also said the university is working on a new summer financial model for next year that will resemble the distance education model. He said this means classes will be open based on the demand of credit hour generation.

Cheng also announced that the Student Services Building is on schedule and will be opened September 27, in time for parent’s weekend. She said the construction is on track at the moment.

The senate also discussed the future of the university’s technological infrastructure.

David Crane, assistant provost and chief information officer, said the university started far behind other universities in becoming technology-friendly, but is working to be a leader in offering up-to-date equipment for students and staff.

“I’ve been on the job for about 15 months now and when I started April 1, 2012, we were admittingly more behind our peers in information technology,” he said.

Crane said the university was almost ten years behind the amount of technology other state universities provide. He said in order to provide higher quality computers and internet access, work is being done to save money on technology such as using grants, private donations and re-negotiating cheaper technology contracts with companies such as Apple.

Some of the costs for the university’s technology upgrade include $150,000 for a high-availability data center outside campus and a disaster recovery site, $1.1 million in fiber replacement or addition to increase data network speed and $2 million for expanded wireless across campus, Crane said.