The university's preliminary budget request for the 2006 fiscal year, presented to the UI Board of Trustees July 15, will concentrate on salary increases, deferred maintenance and academic programs.
The UI will request an $82.8 million increase for the operating budget, a 7.4 percent boost over the expected FY05 budget, which has not been finalized yet.
"This budget request was influenced by history," said Chester Gardner, university vice president for academic affairs, referring to several consecutive years of decreased state funding.
"This is a needs-based budget," he said. "We've taken a realistic look at what the university needs. Academic program needs have guided this request."
Salary increases are key to retaining top faculty and staff members, Gardner said at the board meeting on the Chicago campus.
During the last few lean budget years, UI employees have gone without salary raises or minimal raises and the university has been forced to leave positions vacant or lay off employees.
Universities that compete with the UI for faculty have been able to offer raises.
Capital requests for FY06 have not been finalized. The board will receive a list of about 10 priority projects at the September meeting.
Trustees were shown a list of proposed projects that could be on that list, including $11.5 million in repair and renovations for buildings on the three campuses, $98 million to renovate the nursing building at Chicago, $70 million to build an addition and remodel the education building at Urbana, $67 million to construct the advanced pharmacy research pavilion , $60 million for the College of Business Administration building at Chicago and $48.6 million for Lincoln Hall renovations at Urbana.
“We have at least $600 million in projects that are under consideration,” said Randall Kangas, director of university planning and budgeting.
He said priorities can change over time and certain projects might be moved up based on necessity.
“We certainly recognize the state has more real needs than funding,” Kangas said.
Stephen Rugg, university vice president for administration, said funding for renovations and repairs of existing buildings has reached a critical stage.The university’s priorities have concentrated on the integrity of academic programs, especially during the past few lean budget years.
“We have a backlog of deferred maintenance problems,” Rugg told trustees. “When we protect academic programs, something is left unprotected.”
Gardner said the budget request will not be unreasonable and is optimistic that as the state economy improves, so will funding for higher education. "It's realistic; it reflects what our actual needs are," Gardner said.
The board of trustees will hear another budget proposal at its September meeting after the state's FY05 budget is approved by the Legislature.
In light of the previous budget cuts, the university has reduced administrative costs by 25 percent, including cutting 57 senior positions. The $5.75 million savings in salaries will be redirected toward funding the university’s core missions of teaching, research and public service, Gardner told trustees.
The university will save between $13 million and $28 million from strategic purchasing of commodities, such as computers, medical supplies and food.
Governor Rod Blagojevich and the Illinois Board of Higher Education had asked public universities to cut administrative costs.
A study conducted by an independent firm found that the UI system already has the lowest administrative costs among Illinois public universities and seventh lowest among Big Ten schools.
“The University of Illinois has a long history of being a leader in education, research, outreach and economic development,” UI president James Stukel said. “Now, I am proud to report, we are leading the way in finding the best, most efficient and most economical ways to run the university.”
Gardner said that the cuts did “have a human toll.”
“You cannot make 25 percent cuts and not have it affect services,” he said. “In the years ahead, the challenge will be to continue the savings.”
In other business:
- Trustees adopted a financial aid policy that will help the university provide aid to more students. The new policy gives broader authority to the three campuses to manage aid that is used to fill gaps in state grants and tuition costs.
“It will allow us to better serve our low income students,” Gardner said.
- The design for the Business Instructional Facility, located west of Wohlers Hall on the Urbana campus, was approved by the trustees. The architects of the building aimed for a design that would “fit comfortably within campus and encompass the traditions of the campus.”
Avijit Ghosh, dean of the College of Business, said he was pleased with the design.
“We wanted a building that really fits in with the campus,” he said.
A commons area will serve as the focal point of the new design and will include classrooms, office space and business career services in the 83,000 square-foot building.
- A site for a new day-care center was approved by trustees. The facility will be located at the northeast corner of First Street and Hazelwood Drive. A site needed to be selected so that the university could apply for grant funding. It is expected that a large portion of the project will be funded by grants.
- Jesse G. Delia, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was approved as the acting Urbana provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. The spot was vacated after Richard Herman was appointed interim chancellor following Nancy Cantor’s departure.