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University of Illinois seeks more money to hire faculty

November 16, 2018

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — University of Illinois officials are looking for a big state funding increase to make up for stalled faculty hiring while its enrollment has grown during the state’s two-year budget impasse.

Administrators say the Urbana-Champaign campus is now last among its 10-member national peer group with a student-faculty ratio of 18-to-1 after the campus ranked sixth in 2008, The (Champaign) News-Gazette reported .

Trustees voted Thursday during a meeting in Chicago to approve requesting a $98 million, or 16.5 percent, state funding increase, with two-thirds of that planned for faculty hiring and retention.

The request comes as total enrollment at the university’s three campuses grew 2.7 percent to nearly 85,600 students, including a 3.2 percent boost in the Urbana-Champaign student body to 49,339 for an eighth straight year of record enrollment.

Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson said the University of Michigan has been able to maintain a 12-to-1 student-faculty ratio since 2008 even as its enrollment rose by 11 percent because it was able to keep hiring faculty.

“We’re losing competitiveness on that front,” Wilson told the trustees. “This directly affects the student experience — how big your classes are and how well you serve your students.”

Wilson said administrators at the Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield campuses are drafting aggressive faculty hiring plans.

“This is why this budget request is so important,” she said, to “build back our faculty numbers.”

University officials say the system received only about 28 percent of its typical state funding in 2016 and that shortfall hasn’t been replenished.

Trustee Edward McMillan said the university can’t rely on the state for additional money, noting state support has been declining over the past 15 years.

“We’ve got to figure out how to do it on our own,” McMillan said.

The university’s plan would dedicate $10 million toward faculty hiring, with $23.8 million for overall raises averaging 2 percent, and $35.7 million for departments to retain top faculty or adjust salaries that have fallen behind.

University President Tim Killeen said a decline in faculty hiring is “directly attributable to the fact that state funding went down.”

“It wasn’t something we planned on doing. We had to tighten our belts,” Killeen said. “We need to rebuild that.”

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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