Daily Egyptian

Trustees to decide on financial emergency, SIUE loan

By Daily Egyptian staff

The SIU Board of Trustees is scheduled to decide Thursday if the Carbondale campus will declare a state of financial emergency and borrow money from its sister school as a measure to continue daily operations.

The money would come from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville’s unrestricted reserve funds and be repaid over the course of 10 years, according to a message from interim Chancellor Brad Colwell. The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. in the Student Center ballrooms.

The Carbondale campus has an unrestricted cash deficit of $23.2 million, according to the meeting agenda.

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SIU President Randy Dunn suggested the loan from Edwardsville would allow the cash-strapped university to maintain operations without dipping into restricted funds.

The university president said in a March 29 letter to the campus community that SIU would have to cut $30 million in spending. Those cuts include $10 million in vacant positions and are expected to result in some employee layoffs, according to university officials.

Permanent cuts reflect numbers from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed spending plan, which reduces funding for Illinois public higher education by 15 percent. Further cuts are meant to ensure the university can continue to operate if Illinois legislators do not pass a stop-gap plan before July 1.

Since 2015, the Carbondale campus has already reduced $20 million of its approximately $450 million operating budget. That money was saved by reducing positions, not undertaking projects, closing grants and not filling job vacancies.

The university president’s suggestion that the Carbondale campus declare financial emergency is outlined in the SIU Board of Trustees policies as one of two temporary solutions for resolving a loss of funds. A long-term solution — referred to as a state of financial exigency — would permit the university to lay off tenured faculty.

The university president said the option of exigency should be withheld for later consideration depending upon future state appropriations.

The university’s financial woes are similar to those at the state’s 11 other public universities following a state budget impasse that is approaching the two-year mark. Several state lawmakers have publicly questioned if the state will pass a budget before the next gubernatorial election in 2018.

The Daily Egyptian’s campus desk can be reached at 618-536-3397 or [email protected].

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