I hope this note finds you rested and re-energized for a great spring semester. Despite the continuing state budget stalemate, we look ahead to this semester with optimism and excitement about all we will collectively accomplish.
Working with the Office of the President, our campus has been in constant communication with state leaders to reiterate the value of our university to Illinois. My office is also working closely with the Council of Deans and the Campus Budget Advisory Task Force to plan for possible reduced state appropriations in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, as well as to review our budgeting system and approach for likely reforms.
We face much uncertainty with respect to our state appropriation, not just in the short run, but also in the long run given fiscal conditions in the State of Illinois. Provided we are proactive in response, our university has the fundamental excellence, outstanding students and faculty, talented staff, robust demand, and diversified funding streams to adjust successfully and remain right where we belong: on the leading edge of teaching, research, and engagement.
You should be aware that our budget planning guidance for the FY17 cycle is now being distributed to units across the campus, both academic and administrative. Colleges and schools are being asked to propose FY17 unit budget plans with reductions of three, five, and seven percent that could address anticipated significant cuts in the general state revenue portion of our overall operating budget. Administrative units are planning for possible reductions of five, seven, and nine percent. We don’t know if changes in our state appropriation will necessitate reductions at those levels and we are confident that various sources of revenue growth will help partially offset reductions. We are in a planning phase at this stage. Our budget guidance asks units to plan creatively and proactively not just for the coming year but, more importantly, for an emerging higher education funding climate in Illinois that portends less reliance on state support.
I want to emphasize that although it makes sense to give units broadly uniform planning guidance, the campus won’t be making reductions in an “across the board” manner. We will make any necessary spending reductions in strategic and transparent ways that protect our core academic mission. We will also invest in areas of greatest promise and opportunity.
I certainly wish I could offer a more inspiring welcome back message. However, I want to be clear that the budget stalemate in Springfield will not drive this university. All across campus, we are exploring new ideas, creating new knowledge, and providing an enriching and life-changing education to our many thousands of students. We will continue to do so, long after the present crisis has passed.
Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost