To: Members of the Campus Community
From: Robert A. Easter, chancellor and provost (interim) and
Richard P. Wheeler, vice chancellor for academic affairs (interim)
We write to welcome you back for academic year 2010-2011 and also to update you on some of the campus activities that have taken place over the summer and to provide you with the most current status of our fiscal situation.
Bob Easter, chancellor and provost (interim)
photo by Taylor Studios
To date, we have charged 17 Stewarding Excellence @ Illinois Project Teams, 16 of which have submitted reports. More information about each project is online.
We are grateful for the hard work of the project teams and to the campus community, who demonstrated their thoughtful engagement with this process through their public comments. It is heartening that faculty, staff, students, and the public care so deeply about our institution and are committed to our continued excellence.
Nine projects have completed the initial feedback process and have been submitted to the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Our staff has reviewed those documents and has consulted broadly with the Council of Deans, Faculty Senate, student leaders and the Campus Advisory Committee to identify short-term and long-term actionable items. We have carefully considered the public comments and the unit responses and incorporated those diverse perspectives and ideas in our decision-making
RIchard Wheeler, vice chancellor for academic affairs (interim)
photo by L. Brian Stauffer
process. In the days and weeks to come, we will tell you about the solutions we will implement this fall that will produce change on our campus that achieve both cost-savings and institutional transformation that will protect the quality for which we are known and better position the university to meet the current and future needs of our students, our state and the larger community. We will also launch new projects early this academic year as we continue the activities of Stewarding Excellence. Our objective remains to minimize the stress from this difficult financial time while transforming the institution for a bright future.
As we begin a new academic year, we continue to face the extraordinary financial challenges that we encountered in fiscal year 2010 due, in large part, to the serious fiscal problems of the state of Illinois. As of this writing (Aug. 27), the state owes the university $119 million for FY 2010 (which ended June 30, 2010) and $122 million that has already been billed for this fiscal year. In light of questions about the level of state support we might receive and an uncertain national economic recovery, we have taken steps to make the institution more fiscally nimble without compromising our core values.
One of those steps was to offer voluntary programs to reduce our work force. More than 500 employees took advantage of our Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, and some 90 tenured faculty members and 16 adjunct professors and lecturers will leave the university under the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program. Achieving this reduction in staff through voluntary programs minimized the dislocation and disruption that would have resulted from more drastic measures. We thank you for your patience and cooperation as we adjust to the reality of a smaller work force. We believe that these are significant short-term actions that position us more favorably for the future.
Although some of the employees who participated in these voluntary separation programs will be replaced, most will not. We continue to carefully monitor these and any hiring requests to ensure that approvals to hire are based on demonstrated strategic or operational needs and further the campus' commitment to a diverse work force. Additionally, because of the talent of our current work force, we restrict necessary hiring to internal applicants whenever appropriate.
We are mindful that our great faculty remain attractive prospects for other institutions. Illinois is strong because, for 143 years, we have provided a nurturing and supportive environment for faculty members to teach and engage in their research. In an effort to retain our stellar faculty, we are working with the Council of Deans and department heads to proactively demonstrate our commitment to provide our faculty with competitive compensation, a productive working environment, and outstanding research support. To this end, we have taken measures to retain faculty and those staff who we were at risk of losing to other institutions.
On Monday, Aug. 23, classes began. During our Convocation this year we welcomed 7,000 first-year students to Illinois - our Class of 2014. They, along with returning, transfer, graduate and professional students will comprise a projected total enrollment of approximately 42,000 students on our campus. Our students come not only from Illinois, but also from throughout the United States and the world.
Thank you for your tremendous contribution to our institution. We wish you a productive academic year.