Trustees unanimously approve preliminary 2009 budget

By Sarah Small

In the afternoon session of today’s meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the preliminary operating budget for the 2009 fiscal year by a unanimous vote.

This preliminary budget is increased by 5.9 percent from last year’s budget with the majority of this additional funding coming from the increase in student tuition which was approved by the board earlier this year, said Walter K. Knorr, comptroller of the Board of Trustees.

Currently, the preliminary budget allocates sufficient funds that allow a 1.5 percent increase in funding for faculty, however discussion among the trustees favored a greater percentage of funding for the University faculty on all three campuses, Knorr said.

Trustee Frances G. Carroll proposed that the faculty be given a three percent increase, at least.

“Academic quality of the University is our top priority,” said President B. Joseph White.

White said that the board will further review this issue of increasing faculty funding when they reconvene in July.

In addition to approving the preliminary operating budget, the board approved all of the 55 agenda items. A

These items included the approval of establishing a University-related organization for the research programs in Singapore, the approval for an annexation agreement with the Village of Savoy, approval of funding for current construction projects on campus.

In the morning session of Thursday’s meeting, chairman Lawrence Eppley announced the University of Illinois system received three grants from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation which collectively total $4.025 million.

By the fall, offices of sustainability will be established on the Urbana-Champaign campus, along with the Chicago and Springfield campuses, White said..

These offices will collaborate administrative and student efforts to “encourage energy conservation, promote environmentally friendly practices and integrate green thinking into the campuses’ curricular, research and extracurricular activities,” according to a press release.

The new office will use input from the students as well as Champaign-Urbana community members, said Chancellor Richard Herman.

University students were acknowledged by Eppley for having voted to pay an energy-technologies fee which will support alternative-energy production.

$300,000 of this student fee will contribute to financing a wind turbine project to replace some electric power on campus, as well as research regarding wind velocity, electrical generation and other data, according to the release.

Also during the morning session, an update on Global Campus was given by Chester Gardner, special assistant to the president on the program.

There are 42 students enrolled for the May/June term, and 60 nursing students provisionally admitted for the fall semester, assuming they meet prerequisites for the program, Gardner said.

He also acknowledged that the program is about four months behind schedule.

“It’s been a challenging yet productive year, and we anticipate that 2009 will also be challenging,” Gardner said.