Wise and Adesida plan to fight budget cuts

University representatives will testify against Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget cuts for the 2016 fiscal year­ — which begins July 1 — in the Illini Union Pine Lounge Monday at 1:30 p.m.

Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Provost Ilesanmi Adesida spoke at a town hall meeting on Thursday, where they discussed Rauner’s proposed budget cuts, which would eliminate 3.7 percent of the University’s budget.

Rauner proposed to cut a total $6 billion from the state budget, affecting other government programs outside of the University. representatives from local governments and other agencies will also testify.

“We will handle this budget cut through both the University administration and the campus administration in order to protect the colleges, and units and our students,” Wise said.

However, Wise said, the more important question, one that “looms heavy,” is how to deal with the 2016 fiscal year budget.

“This is nothing less than a breathtaking cut,” Wise said. “We have reminded people, and reminded ourselves, that this is really just the first iteration of the budget and we will continue to work with legislators and the governor to impress upon them what a huge impact this would have on our ability to meet the mission of the University.”

Wise said she and counterparts from the Chicago and Springfield campuses will testify to legislature in Springfield again in May.

Wise also discussed Senate Bill 1, regarding state pension cuts, and University employee benefits such as student tuition waivers.

Wise said the University will do what it can to combat any decisions and continue to offer competitive packages to employees. However, Wise said it is critical to be mindful and strategic, no matter what decisions are made.

“Quite honestly, the year ahead of us is going to be a most challenging one,” Adesida said. “And it will require us to work together as equals.”

Adesida said Rauner’s proposed cuts are of a “magnitude we cannot simply absorb.”

Everything must be on the table when considering where to make reductions, Adesida said. However, he said the University must protect its core educational mission and instead explore University operations and new revenue options.

Student Body President Mitch Dickey urged attendees to speak to legislators.

“While we are talking about this, and while we are planning for the worst and hoping for the best, I think it’s really important for us to stay focused on our strategic plan, on our long term vision, on what we must do to maintain our position of respect and impact across the nation and across the world,” Wise said.

Wise said the University needs to create a new strategic plan for the next five years. The next comprehensive plan will be launched in 2017.

When asked about the possibility of being censured by the American Association of University Professors, Wise said she would not conclude the censure was sure to happen and she takes it very seriously. Wise said she believes it is important to promote the strengths of the University.

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