News Local/State

Provost: U of I Urbana Campus Coping With State Budget Impasse

University of Illinois Urbana campus interim Provost Edward Feser

Undated photo of Edward Feser, interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois Urbana campus. L. Brian Stauffer/University of Illinois

The $24 million in spending cuts announced by the University of Illinois on Monday is just part of its efforts to cope with the state budget impasse.  Urbana campus interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Edward Feser says those cuts affect the central administration. However, he says the university is cutting spending at the campus level, too. Feser says while much of the cost-cutting comes in administrative areas, they’re also asking faculty units to look for ways to reduce spending.

“In some cases, that means restrained hiring for a while,” said Feser. “We haven’t frozen hiring, but we’re restraining hiring. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, our biggest college, was approved only two new faculty searches this year. Again, part of an effort to keep our costs under control, as we anticipate reductions at the state.”

Feser’s comment came following his annual meeting Tuesday with faculty and staff from the College of Media. The college includes Illinois Public Media, which hosted the meeting at Campbell Hall for Public Telecomunication. It was Feser’s first meeting with the college since his appointment in September as interim Provost, following the resignation of Ilesanmi Adesida. Feser was previously dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the U of I Urbana campus, and is expected to return to that position once a permanent provost is hired.

Feser says the U of I is expecting significant reductions in state funding. But because they don’t know the specifics, he says their ability to plan strategically for the future is hampered.

Nevertheless, Feser, says the university is reviewing its spending and budgeting. He says he would like to see better organization of the U of I’s budget data so that information about spending and revenue are shared more widely. And Feser says he wants to see the University of Illinois lower its spending levels overall.

“We have a fairly high tuition rate,” said Feser. “We’re among the more expensive campuses in the Big Ten, and we still receive a fairly substantial level of state support. So we are, as a campus, well-resourced in many ways. And I think there are areas across the campus where we can economize and reduce our cost structure.”