Board of Trustees discusses furlough payments, renovations

By Austin Miller, @AMiller_DE

The SIU system will have its lowest funding since the 1980s if GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Feb. 18 budget proposal passes.

At Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting in Carbondale, SIU President Randy Dunn reacted to the budget proposal, talked about furlough repayments and renovations for the university and previewed the April meeting.

Board members agreed to a $4.1 million reimbursement for 3,500 eligible SIUC employees for the unpaid closure days under former Chancellor Rita Cheng. Cheng enforced the closure to help mitigate budgetary issues.


Former board chairman Roger Herrin said the furlough payments were discussed extensively at Wednesday’s executive committee meeting, before coming to Thursday’s decision.

“We morally want to do what’s right and once this all gets sorted out, I believe you’ll find that we will do that,” Herrin said.

The checks will be paid by the end of the spring semester and the board will release more information shortly.

Even after announcing payments of more than $4 million, those were not the only checks handed out.

The board also approved renovations to Lawson Hall, two greenhouses on campus, McLafferty Annex and the underground steam-pipes that run through campus.

The Lawson changes will renovate the restrooms, increase accessibilities for those with disabilities and replace glass facades. Renovations will cost an estimated $1.5 million, will start this summer and end in 2016. Funding for the project will come from the Facilities Maintenance Fee, which was $228 per student for the spring semester.

More than $4.6 million will be allocated for the demolition, construction and renovations to the greenhouses for Agricultural Sciences and Botany Teaching, both of which were constructed in the 1950s. 


The Illinois Capital Development Board, which helps repair and renovate the state’s properties, will fund more than half, $2.4 million, while the maintenance fee will provide $1.2 million. The College of Science and College of Agricultural Sciences will pay $455,000 apiece. 

McLafferty Annex will have its second phase of restoration, which plans to create more research space and were approved at a cost of $1 million.  The Fermentation Science Institute and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will take the space created by the renovation. Non-appropriated funds for the project will be paid by the six the offices of the chancellor, vice chancellor for research and plant funds.

The first phase cost $3 million and was paid for by funds collected from research activities.

Vice Chancellor Kevin Bame said the Lawson and greenhouse construction will begin this summer and be finished in 2016.

Even with all of the looming budget woes, there was some good to be celebrated. 

Kristina Stepps, associate athletic director, said 69 percent of SIU student-athletes had a term GPA above 3.0, the highest in 20 years.

White, black and male student-athletes earned their highest GPA in school history.

Even with the historic semester by male athletes, it was the ladies that led the way, with the softball team having the highest team GPA of 3.616.

Success in the classroom is always good, but Dunn said some programs are subject to cuts.

Rauner’s final budget is still in question, with the legislative session expected to run long, but the university’s financial issues should be discussed in greater detail at April’s Board of Trustees meeting in Edwardsville.

Austin Miller can be reached at [email protected]