Senate Executive Committee discusses campus budgeting in light of ongoing impasse

By Samantha Jones Toal

The Senate Executive Committee of the Academic Senate met Monday and discussed how the state budget impasse is affecting the University as well as other Illinois universitiesbr. The handling of electronic communications and Freedom of Information Act requests was discussed as well.

Budget Impasse

Senate Executive Committee Chair Gay Millerbr expressed her concern for the University given the continued state budget impasse.

“The governor doesn’t even mention higher education as a component in his address,” she said.

Miller said when President Timothy Killeen spoke to the committee last month, it seemed as if he had high hopes for a budget to pass relatively soon.

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However, Eastern Illinois University recently announced continued layoffs and furloughs while Chicago State University has announced financial contingency — it will not be able to operate next year without funds from the state.

Interim Provost Edward Feserbr spent the day in Springfield on Feb. 16 to speak with legislators.

“We were met with a lot of sympathy with our situation,” Feser said. “I think we were able to open some eyes here and there.”

He said he couldn’t access inside information about budgeting plans.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” he said, when asked when the budget impasse will end.

Feser said there will be three budget sessions held at the University during the second week of March that explain how the budget is organized, how the University spends money and how the University receives its revenue. All staff, faculty and students are invited to attend.

Feser said the University continues to think of long-term solutions. Currently, all units are preparing budget reports, several of which will include reductions to spending.

“The biggest challenge is adjusting to a sustained reduction,” he said. “We’re not only planning for potential reductions but also thinking about significant reforms we actually need to take in the budgeting model.”

Feser said the University is currently searching for someone to take the role of vice provost for planning and budgeting.

He said while hiring someone may seem counterproductive financially, additional personnel could aid the University in finding deficiencies that aren’t properly utilizing funds.

University Access of Employee Electronic Communications

The SEC voted to forward a report to the General University Policy committee that aims to balance the privacy rights of an individual with the property rights of the University and the public’s right to know.

John Hart, chair of the committee on information technologybr, said on Aug. 7 emails were released and published without properly notifying employees or those involved with the emails.

This release resulted in the resignation of Phyllis Wise, chancellor, and Ilesanmi Adesida, provostbr.

The Employee Electronic Communications report seeks to further define the rights of employees and email recipients in ethics investigations.

According to the report, there are legally allowed exemptions of material, such as private information and personal information.

Robin Kaler, campus spokeswomanbr, said employees involved with Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requests need to submit all of the information they have to the FOIA office and can’t exempt information themselves.

“If you don’t comply with an ethics investigation, you should assume you’ll lose privacy rights,” Kaler said.

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