Budget uncertainty ushers in SIU retrenchment era
Nearly three months into the Illinois budget impasse, uncertainty is reshaping how one local university does business.
As an out-of-state student, Matthew Kuns had his choice of schools across the country. He chose Southern Illinois University.
"It’s one of the best schools in the nation, and the price of the school makes it one of the best in the nation by far," said Kuns.
SIU President Randy Dunn says he is committed to maintaining SIU’s status as an affordable research university. However, declining enrollment, coupled with a lack of state funding, has ushered in a new era in education.
"The core mission that belongs to SIU isn’t going to change," said Dunn. "We’re not going anywhere. The processes, the means by which we get our work done, (and) the operating models that we follow have to adjust."
Dunn has tried to create a one-year fix by cutting roughly $13.9 million from this year’s budget, but he says MAP grants could be the first to go if state funding isn’t in place by December.
"These sacred cows that we’ve supported in the same way for 50 and 60 years as we move into this new era, we have to be open to looking at those," said Dunn.
"All of the grants and things from the federal government help me attend," said Kuns. "If I don’t get that, I simply can’t attend."
Dunn says raising tuition isn’t an option. So, if a budget isn’t set soon, they have no choice but to make cuts.
One program Dunn is already targeting to cut is putting tablets in the hands of incoming students.
While Dunn says he sees benefits in the program, he says it may simply be too costly in the long run.