UI sees record enrollment, Killeen receives $100K incentive amidst budget cuts


Sonny An | Assistant photo edito

The Board of Trustees approved a $100,000 bonus for University president Timothy L. Killeen at its meeting on Sept. 8.

By Megan Jones , Staff writer

The Board of Trustees approved a $100,000 performance-based incentive for President Timothy Killeen at Thursday’s meeting. During a time of financial uncertainty from the state, Killeen said he does worry how the move will play in Springfield.

“Executive compensation is a real, fundamentally public thing. We are in a public institution and it’s important that it be looked at with very careful attention,” he said. “This process was built into my contract and I didn’t draft that or even think it through carefully enough, perhaps. But I do think pay-for-performance is appropriate for a board that seeks leadership that is accountable on specific goals and objectives that are illuminated and defined ahead of time, and assessed quantitatively.”

Trustee Patrick Fitzgerald noted that it is not a bonus, but something that is earned. Killeen was evaluated based off of nine performance areas he set with the board.

“At least from my perspective, he has earned every dollar of it,” Fitzgerald said. “When you look at the leadership he has shown … we are headed in the right direction.”

Trustee Patricia Brown-Holmes also voiced support for Killeen’s incentive, saying that Killeen has done everything he said he would do and brought pride to the university.

University of Illinois at Chicago Chancellor Michael Amiridis was also approved to receive $75,000.

Killeen’s initial contract included a $225,000 retention bonus if he remained president for five years, but he requested to drop the bonus. Fitzgerald said that that is important, sending the signal that we are paying him for performance and not just for sticking around.

Faculty and staff were notified early August that no general raises will be given for the second year in a row. When asked how the faculty would react to Killeen’s incentive, he said the budget situation is tricky and he is working hard at restructuring salaries.

“We need to reward people appropriately,” he said. “And we can’t forget that, even though the budgetary situation is tricky and we are hundreds of millions of dollars behind.”

Killeen said that he is looking at available resources and making sure UI can commit to keeping the raises and not giving a “one-off that goes away.” He said raises would be a “modest” increase and asked for employees to be patient, adding that he hopes raises will come before January.

“There is a lot of uncertainty going forward, but given all of that, our most important asset is our people and we need to invest in our people, so we are working hard to find a way to do that,” he said.

UI system reaches record enrollment

The UI system has more students on campus than ever before, according to enrollment statistics released Thursday. UI enrolled a record number of 77,073 on-campus students at its three campuses, and total enrollment is expected to reach 81,000 students when combined with online enrollment.

“Our continuing enrollment gains are especially remarkable considering the financial climate in which we operate,” Killeen said. “Despite a year of headlines about the state budget impasse that has significantly reduced state support, students are flocking to our universities in record numbers.”

The Urbana campus increased on-campus enrollment by 1.8 percent from 44,087 to 44,880 students, and has the largest freshman class ever with 7,592 students. This breaks the previous record set in 2005.

“We are fitting all of our students into residence halls as we speak,” Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson said. “We had a bit of an overflow this year, but that is good news.”

African-American enrollment increased by 9.8 percent — from 1,786 to 1,961 students — and Latino enrollment rose 11.2 percent — from 3,110 to 3,457 students. Latino and African-American enrollment comprise around 25 percent of the UI system’s on-campus undergraduate enrollment.

“We need to do better and we will continue to strive to do better, but this year’s gains shows that we are heading in the right direction,” Killeen said.

This is the second year in a row that UI has had record enrollment, a goal in the Strategic Framework plan the University approved earlier this year. Last year’s fall enrollment was 80,292 students.

University-wide in-state students also increased this year, with 4 out of every 5 students being an Illinois resident.

The finalized numbers will not be known until all online and off-campus students are counted later this fall.

Killeen also highlighted other statistics, including that Urbana’s completion rate ranks in the top three percent of U.S. public universities, with 85 percent of students completing their degrees.

He is proud of the affordability of the University, he said, and that is significantly improving. For the past two years, tuition did not increase for incoming in-state freshmen, despite budget uncertainties from the state.

Chairman Edward McMillan complimented the board on freezing tuition.

“To all of you at the three universities, I know it’s been a challenge to manage within that particularly with the limits we’ve had from revenue from the state,” he said. “I don’t expect it’s going to get any better for awhile, so we are going to have to continue to find a way to live within our means.”

Budget shortfalls

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Walter Knorr said the University system has received around $50 million so far from the $351 million state appropriation received for fiscal year 2017. He said it can be used to pay expenses through Dec. 31. He expects to receive the full amount by December and will visit with the state comptroller on Sept. 15 to confirm that the money is coming in.

The University will apply $29 million of state appropriations for fiscal year 2017 for the Monetary Award Program, MAP, grants for the 2016 spring semester.

When looking at state support for students in 2005, each student brought $12,500 of state appropriations. But now in 2016, the University receives $8,000 per student.

Around 50 percent of Urbana students pay full tuition, with 10 percent paying less than $3,000 and 15 percent paying $0 with the help of financial aid.

In Urbana, the campus is cutting $20 million in its budget this year, trustees learned at a subcommittee meeting Wednesday.

The campus cut $49 million in 2016 and was still short on its budget by $140 million. This year, the campus is $50 million short on its budget. Despite cuts made on campus, the state is behind $190 million in funding for 2016 and 2017, Interim Provost Ed Feser said.

Feser warned that a large portion of cuts came from the administration in 2016 and that in 2017, it will be hard to make large cuts again from the same unit.

He also showed trustees that the campus has continued to give out financial aid to students, totaling $69 million in 2016, but he warned it will be harder to continue to do this.

“We put a lot of investment in financial aid and to maintain the accessibility of the institute,” he said. “This will get harder to do unless we see some relief.”

Marilyn Marshall, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, said the lack of state budget funding has heightened the need to maximize each campus’ resources.

She said there are many parts to academic unit planning, including the current budget uncertainty and ensuring that classes offered fit with student demand.

At the Urbana campus, there has been a shift in enrollment over the years, as students have been choosing STEM and social sciences programs over the humanities, Feser said.

The campus is looking for ways to add in interdisciplinary options, such as CS+X, which combines computer science with other humanities, such as linguistics.

By adding these new programs, the University hopes to award 2,666 more degrees per year by 2022  —  a 21 percent growth.

A budget reform group is working on new ways to budget, and the group is expected to have the plan reviewed by the provost in May 2017. The new budget system is expected to begin July 2019.

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