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Opinion: Former SIUE Chancellors call for funding shift or system split

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Opinion: Former SIUE Chancellors call for funding shift or system split

SIU-Edwardsville's cougar statue. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

SIU-Edwardsville's cougar statue. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

SIU-Edwardsville's cougar statue. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

SIU-Edwardsville's cougar statue. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

By Nancy Belck, Julie Furst-Bowe, Stephen Hansen, Vaughn Vandegrift, and David Werner

An Open Letter to the Citizens of the State of Illinois and the SIU Board of Trustees:

Universities are managed by boards of trustees. The trustees are representatives of the public and are responsible for a university’s long-term health, strategic direction, educational policy, finances, operations, and mission. Trustees are meant to guide the universities to assure that higher education remains responsible to the needs of the public. Sometimes changes are necessary in order to better serve the needs of the public.

We, the undersigned former chancellors of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, believe it is time for the Board of Trustees of the Southern Illinois System to live up to its fiduciary responsibilities by reallocating funds between Carbondale and Edwardsville. If it fails to do so, then it is time for the legislature to abolish the System and create a Board of Trustees for each university. Such a change is not without precedent. In 1996 the legislature abolished both the Board of Governors and Board of Regents which had together overseen nine universities.

Since 2000, Carbondale has received 64 percent of the SIU System’s appropriation (excluding funding for the System Office and the School of Medicine in Springfield) while Edwardsville has received 36 percent. Since 2000, the enrollment at Carbondale has dropped significantly while that at Edwardsville has increased as has the breadth and level of its programs. In Fall 2017, Carbondale had a slightly larger enrollment than Edwardsville; by fall 2018, Edwardsville will likely be larger.

At its meeting on April 12, 2018, the SIU Trustees reviewed a proposal documenting the disparity in funding. Even adjusting for the greater doctoral level work at Carbondale, the analysis underlying the proposal showed that between $17 million and $23 million needed to be shifted from Carbondale to Edwardsville. The proposal before the Trustees called for a modest shift of $5 million, a small step to equitable funding. Yet, even that modest shift failed to achieve Trustee approval.

SIUE at one time benefited from being part of the SIU System, but that is no longer the case.  If the Board of Trustees cannot live up to its fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Illinois and the University at Edwardsville, it is time for a change.

Nancy Belck, Chancellor SIUE, 1994-1997
Julie Furst-Bowe, Chancellor SIUE, 2012-2015
Stephen Hansen, Interim Chancellor SIUE, 2015-2016
Vaughn Vandegrift, Chancellor SIUE, 2004-2012
David Werner, Chancellor SIUE, 1997-2004


11 Responses to “Opinion: Former SIUE Chancellors call for funding shift or system split”

  1. Sharon phelps on May 21st, 2018 12:48 am

    My granddaughter was pretty well set to receive a grant that never came thru for her as the school stated that there was no money left for her. She had to therefore leave school to pursue a different way to go to school. Pay for it and work at the same time.

  2. Brent on May 21st, 2018 2:09 pm

    Where is this increase in enrollment you speak of at Edwardsville? According to the SIUE Factbook posted at http://www.siue.edu, enrollment is essentially the same today as it was in 1974. It’s either fuzzy math by you or intentional skewing of the facts to fit your narrative. Either way, it’s a lie.

  3. Douglas Eder on May 22nd, 2018 12:02 am

    No, it is not a lie. Enrollment at SIUE in the mid-70s was high. Then during the intervening decades, enrollment dropped at universities throughout the midwest due to demographic shifts. During the last decade, enrollment at SIUE has showed steady growth such that enrollment at present is back near the record levels of the early and mid-70s. So no, it is not skewing facts, fuzzy math, nor a lie.

  4. Joshua on May 22nd, 2018 7:11 am

    If you look at the SIUE total head count, SIUE enrollment has steadily grown from 11,200 to upper 13,000. The data that is being used for comparison between SIUC and SIUE is the FTE (full time equivalent) data. There is not FTE data for 1974 in the 2017 SIUE factbook. When examining the data from 1995 to 2017, SIUE has grown from 7,957 to 11,523. Based on SIUC 2017-2017 factbook, enrollment (FTE) has dropped from 18,975 (1995) to 13,666 (2016). I couldn’t find 2017 data. Interestingly, total headcount in 2016 was 14,142 for SIUE and 15,987 for SIUC. What is most impressive is this has been accomplished with a smaller allocation of funds to SIUE. These trends don’t seem skewed or fuzzy.

  5. Paul on May 22nd, 2018 7:51 am

    Hey Brent… Where is the increase in enrollment for SIUE you ask?
    Well, in that same factbook it shows steady growth at Edwardsville since 1994 (10,938 enrollment) until 2016 (14,142). 2017’s enrollment were down about 400 from 2016. You picked out a spiked number back in 1974 for SIUE to push forward a false narrative here.
    Also, Freshmen retention rate is up this year to a record level at SIUE…which is a big deal and a good sign for more future growth.
    And SIUE will pass SIUC in enrollment numbers here very shortly as they are almost dead even right now…yet the funding doesn’t reflect those numbers at all with Carbondale receiving the lion’s share of the state funds, hence the problem. That’s just not right.
    Combine all of that with Carbondale’s steady decline in enrollment since about 1993 and it’s clear to see both institutions are on different paths. SIUE is doing quite well while SIUC has been taking on water for over 2 decades now with no sign of any of that changing.
    Carbonadale is a mess with mis-managment of funds and vastly overstaffed departments as well…which doesn’t help. I read somewhere that SIUC has over twice the staff that SIUE does in many departments, but both schools have about the same number of students. C’dale did a poor job managing funds during the state’s financial crisis, basically ignoring the funding issues and the requests by the state for the state’s institutions to cut back wherever possible, and just going about business as usual. And that mistake just adds to the problems for SIUC right now.
    SIUE, on the other hand, has done a remarkable job (in general) over the past number of years in cutting back wherever possible to deal with the lack of state funds…which is what a responsible institution does during times like these.
    So, in short… you reap what you sow.
    Something has to change…because SIUC is going to suck the SIU system dry.
    It’s actually quite sad. I’m a recent SIUC alum and I am embarrassed at what is and has been going on down here.

  6. Jake on May 22nd, 2018 9:32 am

    Brent makes a good point. If you look at comparable available data from each campus’ factbook, student enrollment is relatively stable at Edwardsville (1975 total enrollment: 13,607; 2016 total enrollment

  7. Larry on May 22nd, 2018 11:52 am

    A lie, Brent? Really? In 1964, SIUE had an enrollment of around 6,500 that has since grown to roughly 14,000. Yes, there were ups and downs in that enrollment history, but the trend line clearly shows steady growth. In 1975, about the time you mention, Carbondale had just over 21,000 and peaked in 1991 with an enrollment of 24,869. Since then, though, it has been a history of steady and dramatic losses for SIUC–over 10,000 students. By 1991, SIUE had grown to just under 12,000 students, and it has since grown by another 2,000 students. No one rationally looking at the comparative figures would conclude that the distribution of funds for these two institutions should remain unchanged, despite SIUE growing by 2,000 students since 1991 and SIUC dropping by 10,000 students in the same period.

  8. Erik on May 22nd, 2018 1:12 pm

    Brent, I think you are looking at headcount (which has been rising slowly since 2,000 but which is about the same now as the peaks in the 1970’s that you mention.)

    However headcount is not the right number to look at. Back then SIUe was a commuter campus and a great deal of the head count were not full time. When you think about funding allocation what matters is not how many heads are on campus, but the overall course load. Consequently the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) measurement is the relevant measure.

    Call that fuzzy math if you want. It seems that it would cost more to educate a full time student than one that simply takes a class or two, consequently it is the headcount number that is misleading.

  9. Sanchez on May 22nd, 2018 3:06 pm

    I honestly don’t know what the enrollment of SIUE in 1974 was and don’t really care, this is 2018. The truth is that there is no fuzzy math. According to SIUC factbook, as of 2016 (the most recent information) enrollment was 12,182 and total operating budget was $488M while according to SIUE factbook, as of 2017 (again the most recent information) enrollment was 11,402 and total operating budget was $292M. The disparity in favor of SIUC is undeniable and the so called “fuzzy math” seems to work against SIUE not for them. Skewing facts to fit a narrative seems to be conventional tactics by the Carbondale folks so please be careful who you are calling a liar.

  10. Alison on May 22nd, 2018 8:46 pm

    As you all write: “Sometimes changes are necessary in order to better serve the needs of the public.” I agree. Let’s start with the SIUE students themselves. How is it Pembrook still has a job when he callously and without any reason sided with an alleged rapist, despite the university panel’s determination that this young woman was raped? Stop playing politics and actually care about the students you supposedly represent.


  11. Paul on May 23rd, 2018 9:28 am

    Hey Brent… Where is the increase in enrollment for SIUE you ask?
    Well, in that same factbook it shows steady growth at Edwardsville since 1994 (10,938 enrollment) until 2016 (14,142). 2017’s enrollment were down about 400 from 2016. You picked out a spiked number back in 1974 for SIUE to push forward a false narrative here. Enrollment has steadily climbed at SIUE since 1994 and enrollment at SIUC has steadily declined since 1994 and both campuses currently have about the same enrollment. SIUE is poised to pass SIUC here next year in enrollment numbers, yet SIUC gets tens of millions more in funding. The waste and mismanagement at SIUC is unbelievable.
    And shall we talk about Freshmen numbers of the two campuses? SIUE has record freshmen retention rate this year and SIUC’s freshmen class has dropped to under 1000. That’s telling for the future that it’s going to be more of the same for both institutions.
    Give SIUE the money they deserve/need/have earned…give them their fair share and quit throwing it away down the SIUC money pit.

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