Already more than a month into the 2004-05 fiscal year, the UI Board of Trustees approved an operating budget of $3.38 billion for FY05 and an operating budget request for the coming fiscal year increasing that budget by $87.8 million.
In presenting the 2005-06 operating budget request, staff members told the trustees, who met on the Springfield campus on Sept. 9, that the increase is needed so the university can remain competitive as an employer and as a research and educational institution. Declining state appropriations during the last three fiscal years, mid-year budgetary rescissions and rising unavoidable costs, such as Medicare payments and utilities, have cost the university more than $220 million in recent years and caused it to lose ground in comparison with peer institutions in critical areas, such as salary and benefits programs and the rankings of its libraries.
The highest priority in next year’s budget will be attracting and retaining faculty members. Vice President Chester Gardner told the board that about half the budget would be directed toward salary improvements and to cover inflationary increases in general prices, utilities, library materials and technology. The other half of the budget would be directed toward critical academic needs, such as hiring faculty members and investing in instructional technology and information resources. The request includes $25.8 million for faculty and staff salary increases in addition to another $17.2 million that is part of a statewide initiative for recruitment and retention of critical faculty and staff members. The request also contains $21.1 million for academic program initiatives, including $7.2 million for strengthening the academic program by adding faculty positions to respond to higher enrollments, adding new courses or course sections, buying library materials and expanding public outreach. The plan also includes restoring 150 tenured faculty positions across the university, particularly in information technology, biotechnology, and the arts and humanities.
Replacing out-of-date equipment and labs also will be a high priority next fiscal year. The budget calls for $1.7 million in technology updates plus another $2 million to address a backlog of deferred maintenance projects and repair deteriorating heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems in various buildings.
Repair and renovation of existing facilities and reducing the backlog of deferred maintenance also are the highest priorities in the FY06 capital budget request also approved at the meeting.
Budgeted capital projects at the Urbana-Champaign campus include $48.6 million for remodeling Lincoln Hall. In the current fiscal year, $2 million was appropriated to begin planning the project and another $3 million may be approved in the Illinois legislature’s fall veto session. The budget proposal also includes $31.2 million for construction of a new College of Business Instructional Building, a $30 million private match from the state for construction of a new Electrical and Computer Engineering Building and $48 million for continuation of the South Farms relocation project.
In presenting the 2005 operating budget, Douglas Beckmann, senior associate vice president for business and finance, reported that state appropriations declined more than $100 million from FY02 to FY05, a trend consistent with other public universities. However, the university income fund gained 19.2 percent, to $1.4 billion, from FY04 to FY05, partly as a result of increased tuition revenue from implementing the tuition guarantee program, a $1,000-per-student tuition surcharge, and higher enrollment. Income from gifts and endowments increased 6.5 percent, from $98 million to $100 million, in FY05, while royalties dropped 30 percent, from $18 million to $13 million.
In other business, the trustees:
- Presented a resolution to Sen. Deanna Demuzio, wife of the late Sen. Majority Leader Vince Demuzio, expressing condolences on his death on April 27 and recognizing his support and advocacy of the university during his career.
- Approved faculty/staff appointments, including Christopher Mark Comer as dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UIC; and Sarah Mangelsdorf as acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Urbana.
- Awarded a $4.018 million contract to Williams Brothers Construction, Inc., of Peoria, for construction of Doris Kelley Christopher Hall at Urbana.
Awarded a Distinguished Service Medallion to Thomas M. Siebel in recognition of his extraordinary service and benefaction. Siebel’s gifts to the university include a scholarship fund for computer science students and funds for construction of the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computing, which opened earlier this year on the Urbana campus.
- Passed a resolution establishing university policy that will preserve, affirm and publicly celebrate Native American culture and traditions in reaching a consensus resolution on the Chief Illiniwek controversy. President James J. Stukel, who explicated that the resolution calls for celebrating Native American culture, not honoring the Chief as the school’s symbol, said that the measure was significant and would provide a basis for dialogue that he hoped “will carry us to the next step.” Richard Herman, acting chancellor at the Urbana campus, conveyed that all campus constituencies “feel considerable urgency” to resolve the Chief controversy.
- Chairman Eppley announced that Gov. Rod Blagojevich had declared Sept. 10 “James Stukel Day” in Illinois.