Updates from the Board of Trustees: College of Medicine approved for Urbana campus

Following President Robert Easter’s recommendation, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted in approval of the proposed College of Medicine on the Urbana campus at its meeting on Thursday in Urbana.

Next, the proposal will be presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education for approval. Additionally, the University will enter a binding contract with Carle Foundation for to secure the promised $100 million partnership.

The college will also be funded by at least $135 million in donor gifts. At the Academic and Student Affairs committee meeting Wednesday, Chancellor Phyllis Wise announced that an unnamed donor has promised a $10 million donation to help create the new college.

Easter’s retirement 

University spokesman Tom Hardy confirmed President Robert Easter will retire May 17 and President-elect Timothy Killeen will begin work May 18.

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Originally, Killeen was slated to begin July 1 after Easter retired at the end of June but has alluded to starting work earlier since he was named as the next University president.

Financial reports

Walter Knorr, University chief financial officer, said the University’s financial situation has not changed much since the January Board of Trustees meeting.

The University is still dealing with the potential of 30 percent budget cuts, which would bring the University back to 1950s levels of state appropriation in current dollars, Knorr said.

Additionally, the state currently owes the University $325 million in receivable funds. The University’s endowment fund growth in 2014 was the third largest in the Big Ten; the University currently has $2.3 billion in endowment funds, Knorr reported. However, the funding cannot be used for administrative costs, unless directed by donors. Administrative costs are currently about five percent of the University’s total operating costs, he said.

Knorr also reported the Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments on both sides of the pension case on Wednesday, commonly known as SB1, and will make a decision on the constitutionality of the bill soon. The senate bill essentially cut pensions for Illinois government employees, including University employees.

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