News Local/State

Killeen: Continue Advocating For Universities During Impasse


University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen says it’s on him and other state university leaders to sell the benefits of higher education as Illinois’ budget impasse continues.  He says it could be another two months before the governor and legislative leaders come to an agreement.

And over that time, Killeen says administrators need to motivate lawmakers, and not blame their decision-making process.

"I think the urgency level is increasing because the longer this drags on, the more damage occurs," he said. "I’m particularly concerned about not just operational damage, but reputational damage too.  We have a world-class institution here at the University of Illinois.  And we need to preserve that.”

Killeen Friday said he agreed with some of the concerns made in a memo this week from Governor Bruce Rauner Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Goldberg about heavy spending at Illinois' public universities.

"In the months that I've been in this job, we've done a number of steps already, in that sense, to move funding from administrative function to student experience function," Killeen said, citing an administrative hiring freeze, and other efforts to be 'fiscally prudent.'  "I believe the University of Illinois is going to be a wonderful example of effective processes to provide affordably for our students."

Killeen says the university is developing a new website that will show the metrics of how some of these financial changes are being done.

Meanwhile, Killeen says it's unlikely that the university would have a recommendation for a new athletic director for the Urbana campus by next Thursday’s U of I Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago.  But the president says a candidate should emerge in the next few weeks.

Mike Thomas was fired as the U of I's athletic director in November. Paul Kowalczyk has been serving as interim athletic director since then.

Killeen made his comments Friday at the U of I's Beckman Institute, appearing with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, who was on campus to announce funding for scientific and biomedical research.