Daily Egyptian

WIU announces 110 layoffs

By The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa

Western Illinois President Jack Thomas announced approximately 110 layoffs to non-instructional staff Wednesday in a letter posted on the school website.

Thomas said individuals facing layoffs will be given 30-day notice and, within the next week, those individuals will receive a letter.

Other cutbacks are also necessary.

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“As of this week, all appropriated budgets have been swept and funds from those accounts are being held at the vice presidential level,” Thomas wrote. “To further limit spending, all P-Card purchasing is suspended, unless authorized by the division’s respective vice president. We must conserve all cash resources.”

Thomas said despite the ongoing furlough/voluntary pay-reduction program and drastic reductions to spending, “these layoffs are necessary to protect the University’s cash resources.”

To date, for fiscal year 2016, the University has made appropriated budget reductions of over $6 million. More than 500 employees are participating in the mandatory furlough or pay-reduction program, resulting in savings of over $1.5 million.

“However, we must continue to reduce our FY’16 expenses,” Thomas explains. “We will fall short of our $4 million savings goal for Fiscal Year 2016, as we have been unable to achieve furlough agreements with all of our employees. Because there appears to be no end to this budget impasse in the immediate future, we must move forward with additional layoffs.”

He continues saying, “Without an appropriation from our state government, the University will face even greater financial challenges. Should the impasse continue it would require that we make further spending and personnel decisions. We implore the leaders in Springfield to resolve this unprecedented budget crisis and recognize that our public universities are critical to the future of a stable and innovative Illinois. We need state funds to operate and to support the thousands of students we serve. The decisions we are being forced to make are incredibly difficult, and they are being made due to the lack of state support. The Office of Human Resources will provide assistance to those employees who will be laid off.”

Thomas writes if and when a budget is passed for fiscal year 2016, “We may be able to call back a select number of non-instructional employees.”

But if the budget stalemate continues, additional layoffs and the extension of the furlough/pay reduction program will be necessary into fiscal year 2017.

“I am distressed that we have been placed in this position,” Thomas says. “I realize the effect this decision has not only on our University community, but also the local communities in which we reside. While the end to the budget impasse is uncertain, what is certain is the future of Western Illinois University. Our doors will remain open, and we will continue to serve students and provide an affordable, accessible and quality education.”

Thomas asks the citizens of Illinois to write and call their legislators to help them understand how important regional public universities are for the state of Illinois.

“Each person who has been touched by WIU has a story to tell,” Thomas says. “Those stories must be shared so that others realize the value we provide to this state and beyond. We educate, guide, and develop the future leaders of this state and this nation. A degree from Western Illinois University has great value. We will continue to work with legislative and state leaders to urge an end to this impasse and to pass a budget that adequately supports public higher education.”

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(c)2016 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)

Visit The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) at www.thehawkeye.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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