Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Eating Our Seed Corn - Illinois Version

I got this via e-mail.

As we approach the spring semester I write to inform you of the current financial situation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

As is the case with all public universities in the state we currently face a cash crisis. In the current fiscal year that commenced on July 1, 2009, we have only received 7 percent of our annual appropriation from the state. As I write this letter the state of Illinois owes the University more than $436 million of its appropriation. That number increases every month.

As a response, we have instituted a number of measures on campus to ensure that we have the necessary resources to get through the semester with an eye to confronting a similar fiscal shortfall in the next fiscal year. Our faculty and administrative staff will begin mandatory furloughs in February. (A furlough is a leave of absence without pay.) We have also been cutting costs at all levels of the university and we are looking at ways we can consolidate services to garner even more savings. Finally, we continue to draw on cash reserves, but these are finite and we can no longer continue to go down this path.

Please understand that we are doing everything we can to protect our students - our number one priority - from the impact of these cost-cutting measures. We believe that each fiscal decision we make must not compromise the education of this state's greatest assets, its daughters and sons.
You can also find the e-mail online at The Quad

In many ways the University System is obsolete. An online learning system would allow students to go at their own pace and eliminate the need for keeping so many buildings (for classrooms) operational. Teachers in courses that don't require labs would only need an office plus a high speed internet connection. Lectures could be done by video.

The time is coming. I don't believe the pain is sufficient yet for a complete rethink.

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