SIUE chancellor urges 9 percent budget ‘realignment’

BELOW: Interim Chancellor Stephen Hansen.

From Illinois Business Journal news services

EDWARDSVILLE – SIUE Interim Chancellor Stephen Hansen introduced a 9 percent “realignment” spending plan for the remainder of fiscal 2016 during the annual chancellor’s address Tuesday in the Morris University Center Meridian Ballroom.

hansenApproximately 500 faculty, staff, students and community representatives heard Hansen deliver a proactive approach to the budget issues hanging over the university system as the state of Illinois government remains in a budget stalemate.

“We cannot fiddle while Springfield burns,” Hansen said. “SIUE must not merely survive, it must thrive.”

Hansen enumerated the challenges facing SIUE:

– Declining state appropriations to higher education
– Variety of financial issues that include uncertain cash flow from the state, an unfunded pension system and the cost of health insurance
– Decline in total number of high school graduates and increased competition for those prospective students
– Need for program quality and rigor
– Need for new and expanded programs to meet the demand of prospective students

Hansen then outlined the FY16 Budget spending plan.

“This 9 percent realignment will address the potential state reduction, address unbudgeted obligations, follow the strategies of University Policy5A2, and remove uncertainty and free action,” he said.

Essentially, the realignment is a reallocation of resources available to the university, a reserve of approximately $13.4 million, which is 9 percent of last year’s Fiscal Year 2015 total state operating budget of about $149.2 million, Budget Director Bill Winter told the Illinois Business Journal.

Campus spokesman Doug McIlhagga said, “It is in anticipation of reduction of state appropriation, which we don’t know at what level that will be.”

Such reallocation would allow the university some flexibility in the months ahead, as it reprioritizes how to use funds.

 “We cannot allow the budget to define who we are,” Hansen said. “We are facing a rapidly changing world. We are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, to solve problems that we haven’t yet invented or thought of.”

A university congress will be convened in November that will be comprised of all institutional constituencies. It will be asked to consider:

– How can SIUE continue to grow enrollment while operating with fewer state resources?
– How does the university determine SIUE academic program priorities?
– Is there a more effective way to manage the budget to reward units for growth?
– How can SIUE increase revenue to replace the loss of state appropriated dollars?
– How can SIUE revise the curriculum and the delivery of the curriculum to improve quality and efficiency?

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