Senate Executive Committee discusses budget concerns and background checks

By Maggie Sullivan

Members of the Senate Executive Committee continued discussions about Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget cuts Monday.

“We are expecting between $80 to $120 million cut for our campus,” said Vice Provost Abbas Benmamoun. “To put it into perspective, $80 million is about two-thirds of state allocation that goes to LAS, the largest college on our campus. That is the magnitude of the cuts we are talking about.”

Benmamoun stressed the importance of the administration taking the biggest hit of the cuts in order to save the colleges and protect the University’s mission.

“The conversation is ongoing, but the guiding principle is we have to protect the colleges in order to make sure students are getting a state of the art education with the best facilities and professors,” he said.

Roy Campbell, Senate Executive Committee chair, said the budget cuts were discussed at the University Senates Conference, where representatives drafted a document recommending how the University should deal with budget cuts.

Benmamoun said it is important not to underestimate the magnitude of the impending budget cuts but he is hopeful for the University’s future.

“This University has been around for 150 years, through depressions and world wars,” he said. “This is a resilient institution. We endure, and we will continue to endure.”

Joyce Tolliver, University Senate Conference representative, said the conference drafted three main principals to deal with the cuts. The principals state any budget reductions to be implemented must be considered across all levels of the University administration, budget reductions must be made within administrative units first to preserve the academic mission of the University and short-term strategies seeking to soften the impact of the budget cuts should not replace long-term structural and organizational changes.

Tolliver advocated bringing the report to the Urbana-Champaign Senate, and the committee agreed to add it to the May 4 meeting agenda.

Nick Burbules, General University Policy chair, also advocated moving forward with the suggestions made by the University Administration review two years ago.

In the review, President Robert Easter encouraged accepting almost all recommendations made by committees reviewing the University administration, Burbules said. Recommendations included streamlining the administration and removing certain vice president positions. While most recommendations were followed, the administration resisted implementing others, he said.

“I want to see the University administration accept the remaining recommendations, and I want to see them implemented,” Burbules said.

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