SIUC looks forward to the fall despite cutbacks

By Gus Bode

With the University struggling through cutbacks, department reorganization and the threat of layoffs throughout the summer, many have wondered about the shape of things to come this fall.

Adequate staffing and University funding are two areas that have suffered in the wake of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s $22 million in budget cuts.

SIUC Chancellor Walter Wendler has been at the forefront of many of the schools’ strategic countermoves to the budget crisis, including eliminating high-level positions and redistributing duties among the remaining employees.

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The looming threat of layoffs became a reality last week and Glenn Poshard, vice chancellor for Administration, said that administration is still working to find alternative options for the civil service employees that have been affected. He said he hopes that when everything filters out they will have found other positions in the system.

“We’re certainly anxious about the impact of the layoffs,” Wendler said. “It’s important to note that we have not reduced faculty positions. We’re working to keep academic needs in mind as we move forward.

“That’s part of the University’s mission and we intend to adhere to that”

Poshard said with all things considered, the University is doing well.

“Anytime you sustain $20 million in cuts, it affects the entire campus,” Poshard said. “But I believe administration has done everything it could to mitigate those circumstances.”

Poshard named several major projects on campus that continue to move forward despite the budget cuts.

“Our Land Use Plan is progressing and we’re getting a new major highway,” Poshard said. “The renovations in Altgeld continue to be on schedule and that is a major campus endeavor.

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“When students come back in the fall, buildings like Lawson will have undergone technological upgrades to some of the best modern technology. Even our phone system here at the University will be upgraded to be a more efficient and technologically advanced system.”

Provost and Vice Chancellor John Dunn said that during budget allocation procedures the academic side of things was left as intact as possible to stay in line with the University’s mission.

“As challenging as these times have been for our current and incoming students, this institution represents the next four or five years of their lives,” Dunn said. “We must continue to provide them with the best resources available.”

Dunn said he was proud of all the departments and chairs for their efforts to resolve the budget issues while keeping the needs of the students at the forefront. Poshard said the University would maintain full course schedules in the fall.

“Students should arrive in the fall expecting a good year,” Wendler said. “The lines may be a little longer, but our faculty and staff are going to do their best, as they always do.”

Poshard encouraged the University community to acknowledge the progress still happening, despite the recent layoffs.

“This university has weathered a terrible storm, but if you look around you will still see an incredible number of very positive things going on,” Poshard said. “I’m excited to see it all happening.”

Despite the rollercoaster ride the budget cuts have forced the University to take, Poshard said students and employees have reason to look forward to the fall semester.

“The school is turning a corner and I think the students coming out in the fall are in for four of the best years of their lives.”

Reporter Bertie Taylor can be reached at [email protected]

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