Board of Trustees approves 2008 budget, energy policy for University

By Eric Heisig

The University Board of Trustees passed the budget for the 2008 fiscal year during its meeting in Springfield, Tuesday.

The budget, projected at $3.9 billion, is a 6.1 percent increase from the fiscal year 2007 budget.

Only Trustee Kenneth Schmidt voted against the bill, saying the budget did not address the needed money for the university’s medical program.

“No matter how you cut the numbers, we are running about $18 million over in the cost for medicine and dentistry and $10 million over in nursing,” Schmidt said. “We are poorly funded in our medical program.”

Schmidt said the state should be giving more money to the medical program because the university is one of the main training grounds for state doctors.

University President B. Joseph White said the problem was that the university is requesting the money, but the state is not funding it.

The board also approved a new energy policy, designed to reduce the cost of running the university and to help educate students, faculty and staff about ecologically sound practices on all three campuses.

“We want to reach out to learn more about the needs of Illinois and the communities,” said R. Michael Tanner, provost for the University of Illinois at Chicago, during a brief presentation on the policy.

The Urbana-Champaign campus has a head start with the new energy projects. According to Chancellor Richard Herman, the President’s Climate Committee and the Clinton Foundation chose the University as one of the 11 pilot institutions for energy efficiency.

“We will have access to financial mechanisms to move forward with other projects of this sort,” Herman said.

Lawrence Eppley, chairman of the board, said the future of employee salaries lies in the money the university saves with the new energy policy.

“The funds used to produce energy are the same funds used to pay academic salaries,” Eppley said. “Our ability to pay them lies in the ability to cut energy rates.”

In addition to the new policy, White said he intends to start a University initiative to replace all incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs and LED lighting in order to save energy.

“The students need to see action,” White said. “They need to see us responding and doing what they care about. We need to figure out a way to advance the money and reap the energy savings.”

The board also approved the project to create a housing facility for Blue Waters, the world’s fastest supercomputer, which will be run by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University. The supercomputer is projected to be built and on campus by 2011.