URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois continues to struggle with faculty recruitment and retention despite the state budget crisis subsiding.

Interim Provost John Wilkin addressed the issue at an annual faculty meeting Monday. He said outside recruiting of the university's top professors was up 50 percent in the past two years.

"It was a challenging couple of years," Wilkin said

More than 120 faculty members were recruited by other schools for the 2015-16 academic year, up by more than 80 from the previous year, The News-Gazette reported.

"We're very concerned about the loss of talent. We have had some painful losses," said UI President Tim Killeen. "Had this gone on another year, we would have been in trouble."

The number of new faculty hires dropped by half, and at least 50 faculty members opted to stay for the following year, many with the help of retention packages.

But recruiting offers were up over the past year.

"I don't have final numbers on how successful we were, but it was a pure onslaught of people coming after our faculty, and it corresponded directly with the period of budget uncertainty," Wilkin said.

Wilkin said it's too soon to determine the outcome for the 2017-18 year, as this is not an intensive recruiting period. Many of the offers come in late winter and spring.

"I can think of good cases where we were able to keep people," Wilkin said.

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