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September 27, 2018

U of I trustees approve $6.8 billion budget
Increased revenue will support key educational, research priorities

URBANA, Ill. – The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a $6.8 billion budget for fiscal 2019 with nearly $300 million in projected new revenue that will help fund key educational and research priorities such as faculty, facilities and student financial aid.

The budget for the fiscal year that runs through next June is up 4.6 percent, or $298.3 million, from $6.5 billion last year to fund operations and employee benefits for the system and its universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

President Tim Killeen said projected revenue increases from tuition, state appropriations and private fundraising will support the system’s ongoing efforts to ensure student access and affordability, and to continue building on its legacy of academic and research excellence.

“We will ramp up our investment in the core, land-grant missions that have guided us from our very beginning,” Killeen said. “We will open our doors wide to a greater number of deserving students, and continue our push to enhance the next-generation workforce and pioneering discovery that will keep Illinois moving forward.”

Tuition revenue grew even as a rate freeze for Illinois students was extended to a fourth straight year this fall. The in-state freeze was financially offset by a 2.7 percent enrollment increase that netted a new record for the sixth straight year. With nearly 85,600 students system-wide this fall, tuition income is projected to increase 5 percent, or $62.6 million, to more than $1.3 billion, compared to $1.24 billion last year.

State funding is up 1.9 percent, increasing $11.5 million to $600.5 million. Income from private gifts is projected to grow by 22.2 percent, increasing by $38.4 million to $211.4 million. The system’s universities kicked off fundraising campaigns totaling $3.1 billion last year – the largest in their history – are already more than halfway toward their goal.

The projected revenue increases, along with savings from ongoing cost-control efforts, will help support a variety of new initiatives focused on student costs, and academic and research achievement.

Along with the in-state tuition freeze, the U of I System continues to prioritize institutional financial aid for students. University-based financial support has increased from $84 million annually to $219 million over the last decade. Total financial aid, including federal and state support for students, is projected to increase 6.5 percent to $355 million.

The system also has launched new efforts to add faculty, who Killeen said are the magnets that attract both students and research funding. A three-year initiative to recruit distinguished, tenured faculty hired its first cohort of professors over the summer, and Killeen is working with chancellors to develop a long-term plan that will hire hundreds of assistant professors over the next five years.

Killeen and chancellors also are developing a new plan to ensure that classroom and research facilities keep pace with academic excellence. The long-term strategy will set system-wide priorities for capital projects, adding to more than $1.2 billion in investments over the last five years across the system.

Overall, the budget is built on funding projections in three categories.

It projects $2.3 billion in unrestricted funds, which include tuition revenue and state funding, and are expected to increase 3.9 percent or $84.6 million for fiscal 2019. Unrestricted funds cover most educational activities and day-to-day operations.

The budget also projects a $135.3 million, or 5.1 percent, increase in restricted fund revenue, to $2.8 billion. Restricted funds include research grants, private donations, hospital and medical service revenues, and auxiliary operations such as campus housing and food services. Those funds must be spent for a specified purpose or in accordance with donor and contractual restrictions.

In addition, the budget includes $1.8 billion in estimated payments from the state for employee healthcare and pension benefits, up $78.4 million or 4.6 percent from fiscal 2018.


The board approved the appointment of longtime Urbana-Champaign faculty member William H. Sanders as interim director of the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), a new world-class innovation center led by the U of I System. He began his new role in a designate capacity on Aug. 16.

Sanders had served as head of the electrical and computer engineering department in Urbana-Champaign since 2014, and also has directed two campus-wide research centers since joining the university’s faculty nearly 25 years ago. Sanders holds a PhD in computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan, where he also earned his master's and undergraduate degrees.

He will be in charge of all aspects of launching and operating DPI, a Chicago-based institute that will be the cornerstone of the Illinois Innovation Network. The initiatives were created to accelerate job creation and economic growth through groundbreaking research and innovation.

Trustees also approved the appointment of Joanna Groden, an internationally recognized cancer researcher, as vice chancellor for research at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She has served in an interim capacity since Sept. 16 and replaced Mitra Dutta, who is returning to the faculty after six years and will lead a new research collaboration between UIC and the Army Research Laboratories.

Groden had served on the faculty of The Ohio State University and held a variety of administrative roles in its College of Medicine, including five years as vice dean for research. A human geneticist, she has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1994 for her research into identifying key genetic causes of colon cancer and other inherited cancers.

She earned her undergraduate degree from Middlebury College and a doctorate in cell biology and genetics from Cornell University Graduate School of Medical Sciences. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Human Genetics/Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Utah.

The board also approved the appointment of Kevin Hamilton as dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts (FAA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His three-year appointment will run through Aug. 15, 2021.

Hamilton, who has served in the role in a designate capacity since Aug. 17, joined the college’s faculty as a professor of new media in 2002, and most recently served as senior associate dean in FAA. He received his undergraduate degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and a master’s from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He succeeds Peter Mortensen, who has returned to the university’s faculty after serving for a year as interim dean.

Trustees also approved the appointment of Tracy Sulkin as dean of the College of Media in Urbana-Champaign, where she served for the last year as interim executive associate dean. She assumed her new role in a designate capacity on Sept. 16.

She joined the university’s faculty in 2002 as a professor of political science and is a Romano Professorial Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She will serve a three-year term, and replaces Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, who served for two years as interim dean while also serving as dean of the university’s Graduate College.

Sulkin earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Washington, and an undergraduate degree from Western Washington University.

Facilities named

The board approved naming a new football performance center in Urbana-Champaign as the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center, honoring a donation in their honor that is the largest in the athletic department’s history.

The H.D. Smith Foundation, led by the couple’s children Dale and Chris, donated $20 million to the university earlier this year, including $15 million for the 107,000-square-foot facility that will include strength and conditioning space, locker rooms and coaches’ offices. Currently under construction behind Memorial Stadium, it is scheduled to open in August 2019.

The gift honors the memory of the late Henry Dale Smith, a longtime Illini football supporter who founded Springfield-based pharmaceutical wholesaler H.D. Smith Co., and his wife, Betty Smith, who still attends games.

Along with the sports facility, the foundation’s gift provides $3 million to help former student-athletes return to complete their degree and $2 million to support the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine in Urbana-Champaign.

The board also approved naming a dispensing laboratory for UIC pharmacy students the Herbert and Carol Retzky Simulation Center in honor of their $1 million gift to modernize the 5,280-square-foot space. Construction of the dispensing simulation center will begin in May and is scheduled to be completed by fall 2019.

Herbert Retzky, who died in October 2017, was a 1946 graduate of the pharmacy school and owned independent pharmacies in Chicago. His wife, Carol, was a pharmacy technician and partner in the family business.


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with nearly 85,600 students, about 25,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.