Trustees make short business of meeting

By Karsten Burgstahler

Few administrative payroll and position changes were addressed at Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting, but university president Glenn Poshard gave an update on the university’s financial outlook during his address to the board.

Poshard said although the university has received all of its appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013, the state has only made minimal payments to Fiscal Year 2014’s budget.

“The latest amounts that we received from the state, which was about 10 million dollars a couple of days ago for our appropriations, brings us up to about 18 percent of the total for the year,” he said. “We’re in the middle of December and we’ve only received about 18 percent of our funding for FY14.”


In September, Poshard reported he had been told the state of Illinois was spreading out Fiscal Year 2014 payments by month, but that the plan wasn’t proceeding as expected.

“They owe us $80 million now for FY14,” Poshard said. “The guaranteed monthly plan can’t be enforced.”

When asked about Missouri Gov. Jay Nix’s proposal Wednesday to increase funding for state universities by 5 percent in exchange for a tuition rate freeze, Poshard said he wasn’t sure the plan could be implemented in Illinois.

“I’m not sure that that will happen in the state of Illinois, because frankly I don’t think the state of Illinois’s finances are in shape at this point in time, even with pension reform, to agree to give us a huge amount of extra money, no matter what we do with tuition,” he said.

Meanwhile, the trustees approved the position of University Architect, a job Poshard had been delegated to create parameters for. Now that the role is official the university can begin the hiring process, Poshard said.

Chancellor Rita Cheng also provided status reports for 2014-2015 school year enrollment; admitted undergraduates are 3 percent ahead of this time one year ago and admitted transfer students are up 5.6 percent. Housing contracts, which Cheng said are a good indicator of actual enrollment, are up 11 percent.

Trustee Donna Manering didn’t have much trouble getting people to speak up during a presidential search committee open forum after the Board’s session Thursday.


Manering, co-chair of the committee, led the meeting without trustee Shirley Portwood. As opposed to the Edwardsville meeting, where Manering had to coerce people to speak up, almost instantly volunteers made their way to the stand to voice their opinions.

Judy Simpson, a library civil service employee, said committee members must choose a president who understands how important the university is to the community.

“For all purposes, (the university) is the capital of southern Illinois,” she said. “It is the flagship, it is the largest employer, and the economic impact of SIU on southern Illinois has to be understood.”

 Carbondale city manager Kevin Baity also noted how intertwined the city and university are.

“As goes the university, so goes the city,” he said. “I think that is a two-way street. You can look around and you can see that, I don’t want to belabor the issue of decreasing student enrollment, but it has had an effect on the city.”

Kane Hudson, a freshman studying engineering, said the university has figure out a way to set itself apart from other state schools if it wants to retain students.

“’There’s nothing special about SIU.’ That is what a friend told me earlier this week during finals before he announced his plan to go to another school,” he said. “He’s not alone. Many students feel the same way.”

Hudson also suggested the university think of new ways to bring students in beyond beautifying the campus.

“I’m afraid this effort is going to take a tad more than tablets,” he said.

 In the same vein, Nicholas Rion, a graduate student in English as a second language from Lick Creek, said the university must not forget its commitment to students, who pay tuition and fees.

“The solution to our problem is not marketing. It’s a customer service problem, to put it in that language,” he said. “Take care of your customers and your employees.”

During the search committee meeting following the forum, Adrian Miller, Undergraduate Student Government president, said he feared the forum was used for unintended purposes and was more like a forum to select a new chancellor rather than one to select a new president. But Carolyn Harvey, Civil Service Employees Council representative, said even comments made about other personnel can be helpful in choosing a new president.

“The president of the university needs to understand that we have a morale problem,” Harvey said. “They need to understand that students are concerned about escalating fees.”

Charlotte Sarao, College of Agricultural Science assistant to the dean, said the forum gave those who feel they are without a say a chance to speak up.

“Faculty and staff, the students on this campus, felt that they have lost their voice,” she said. “(They feel) their input is not valid, it’s not listened to, and it’s really rather sad. I think we need to ramp that back up. The only way that they’re going to get re-involved is to get somebody who wants us re-involved.”

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at [email protected] or 536-3311 ext. 261.