Editorial: An increasing student to faculty imbalance

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

The University is seeing an increase in students this semester, and that number is going to continue to grow from here.

President Timothy Killeen’s goal is to increase enrollment to 100,000 students across the three campuses, which currently enrolls a total of 76,166.

That’s a big goal. This year, the Urbana campus admitted its second largest enrollment class in University history.

However, it leaves us wondering: Who is going to teach all these students?

Three years ago, former Chancellor Phyllis Wise launched a hiring plan to hire 500 new faculty members on the Urbana campus within five to seven years. At Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting, Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson said 120 new tenured faculty members will join the University this year.

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Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller Walter Knorr said the hiring freeze has been in place since July 1, and it will continue until further notice. University spokesman Tom Hardy said current openings would not be filled, which range from $25,000 civil service positions to $160,000 academic professional directors.

This is due in part due to the lack of state budget approval, which was supposed to be approved before the fiscal year began, leaving administrators questioning how to create a FY16 budget for the University.

It’s smart to set a hiring freeze with a lack of set budget in place because it is fiscally irresponsible to continue to spend before figuring out the University’s appropriations from the state.

However, we question how an increase in students will match a paused hiring season. According to U.S. News and World Report, the ratio of students to professors in 2010 was 16:1 at the Urbana campus . Now in 2015, it is 18:1.

The need for more professors is obvious if the University wants to continue expanding its enrollment. We are a top-tier research institution and in order to continue that status, we must look at the bigger picture instead of looking at how many students can fit in a dorm. We support Killeen’s goal of increasing enrollment, but we need to take a closer at look at the resources available to support that amount.