Dunn on WJPF: Proposed cuts would be like ‘lopping off chunks of the body’

By Luke Nozicka, @lukenozicka

SIU President Randy Dunn said during an interview on WJPF radio that the university, particularly the Carbondale campus, is six to nine months away from being in a financial situation similar to Eastern Illinois University, which has laid off employees as a result of the state’s budget impasse.

“For those who are the disbelievers or the skeptics — if we don’t get cash pushed to us eventually from the state level, just sit and watch long enough and you’ll see how serious this has become,” Dunn said Thursday during an interview with Tom Miller on WJPF, a radio station broadcasted in Carbondale and Marion. “We may not see a budget for FY16, but there needs to be a spending plan that includes public universities.”

For more than eight months, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic Legislature have been to negotiate a state budget, leaving universities and colleges without funding since July 1. Illinois’ longest budget impasse to date has left its higher education institutions in a dire situation.

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Dunn said on WJPF that the $3.8 billion spending bill Senate Democrats approved on Thursday seems to be the only way “we’re going to see any state money here in fiscal year ’16, it’s going to be off of this bill.” Republicans called the bill a “cruel hoax,” according to the Chicago Tribune

MORE: Opinion: Higher ed needs more realistic state funding | 5 programs, services that would drastically change or close without state funding

Earlier this month, Dunn said the Carbondale campus will eliminate 180 faculty and staff and cut programs and services by nearly $23 million if Rauner’s fiscal year 2017 budget passes. More than 400 classes and 300 student employment positions would be eliminated. The men’s and women’s tennis teams would be removed

The public has been “generally protected” from seeing reductions, such as “not hiring professors” or “letting the buildings lag in terms of maintenance,” Dunn told Miller. But if Rauner’s budget passes, cuts may become much more visible. 

“If we’re at the point where we have to move into this level of cuts that we announced last week, it is like — you know — lopping off chunks of the body, lopping off sections of SIU,” Dunn said on WJPF. “That creates a whipsaw effect. It’s a shock to the system that creates all kinds of disruption, whether you’re talking about students in degree programs or those thinking about coming to SIU or folks who are employed doing certain duties, tasks and responsibilities that are no longer there and they’re out of a job.” 

Luke Nozicka can be reached at 618-536-3325 or [email protected]

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