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

SIU-Edwardsville%27s+cougar+statue.+%28Jacob+Wiegand+%7C+%40jawiegandphoto%29
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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