University funded through December after state legislature approves stopgap funding



Gov. Bruce Rauner gives a thumbs up after giving his first speech as governor on Monday Jan. 12, 2015 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Ill. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

By Claire Hettinger, News editor

From the continuing budget crisis in Springfield to paying more employees overtime, the senate executive committee discussed a wide-ranging agenda at its July meeting.

More University employees will be receiving overtime pay starting in December. The Fair Labor Standards Act increased the threshold so that those making less than $47,476 a year will be eligible for overtime pay.

This will affect many post doctoral researchers and civil service employees, along with other positions on campus who are currently exempt but will now make less than the required threshold. The new regulations will pay people for work that supervisors may have taken for granted in the past, such as reviewing papers, answering emails and making phone calls.

The executive committee stressed that it is important to continue to pay people enough to stay competitive with other universities to attract the best possible people.

The human resources department is looking at current policies in place in addition to drafting new ones to decide the best way to be in compliance with the new regulations.

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The University started its second fiscal year, FY17, without a state budget on July 1. The Campus Budget Advisory Task Force issued a report that evaluated the University’s budget model. The task force is looking into the way the University does accounting and reporting and how it takes in resources and distributes them.

The end goal is to change the budget model, which is expected to take 18 months. The task force hopes to make people understand how their actions impact the campus-wide budget and the amount of funding at the college level.

They are asking the deans to think about how to reduce reliance on state support overtime, “so we are less reliant on things going on in Springfield,” Interim Vice Chancellor Edward Feser said.

The new chancellor, Robert Jones, has a particular interest in the international strategy effort, Feser said. The committee will wait to move forward with a plan until Jones is settled on campus.

The University will also be censured by the American Association for University Professors, AAUP, for another year. The organization did not vote to remove the censure over the summer, Feser said

Feser called the continue of the censure “a procedural outcome that people did not expect,” resulting from poor communication between the AAUP UIUC chapter and the national office.

The University was originally censured by the AAUP in June 2015. According to the association’s website, “censure results from the Association’s findings that conditions for academic freedom and tenure are unsatisfactory at a college or university.”

Former Chancellor Phyllis Wise, former President Robert Easter and the Board of Trustees came under scrutiny in August 2014 after dismissing

Steven Salaita from his tenure position in the American Indian Studies department. The reason behind his firing pertained to tweets Salaita sent regarding the conflict in Gaza.

The executive committee reinforced the University’s commitment to academic freedom. They also said the current Board of Trustees is not the same one that was in place at the time of the Salaita incident. And that the current board feels like, despite the censure, they have always supported academic freedom and are not the same board that did not approve Salita for the campus.

“We obviously wanted really badly to be removed from censure and we are working toward that goal,” Feser said.

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