test image

U of I trustees call for approval of state budget
Board says ongoing impasse threatens short- and long-term damage

November 12, 2015      Tweet this | Share on Facebook

CHICAGO—The University of Illinois Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution Thursday urging approval of a state budget to support campuses that help drive the Illinois economy, but have been forced to operate without state funding for more than four months.   

Trustees say a budget impasse that has lingered since July threatens short- and long-term damage to a University system that enrolled a record 80,000 students this fall, provides critical healthcare to underserved communities and contributes nearly $14 billion annually to the state’s economy.

The resolution, signed by every trustee, will be forwarded to Gov. Bruce Rauner, legislative leaders and leadership in the state’s higher education community.

“State-funded support is essential to maintain a University system regarded among the world’s very best – a University that transforms students’ lives and supplies the workforce and innovation that move our state forward,” President Tim Killeen said.

He said the impasse and related funding challenges have reduced employment by about 230 over the last year – a number that could grow to about 500 by the end of the current academic year, affecting class sizes, quality of instruction and essential support services.

The revenue shut off also has nearly exhausted a fund that provides Medicaid care at the University’s hospital in Chicago. The University is committed to continuing care if the fund runs dry, but Killeen said it will create cash flow problems that are unsustainable.

He said the impasse also poses a threat to the University’s global reputation for excellence, aggravating financial challenges that have mounted as state funding has declined by more than 26 percent since 2006.

“Academic and research excellence is the magnet that attracts world-class faculty and top students,” Killeen said. “If our global standing slides, so will our contributions to the state and people of Illinois.”

An economic impact study released last month found that the University pumps $14 billion annually into the Illinois economy, equaling 2 percent of the gross state product. Spending by its campuses and students and the increased earning power of its alumni also supports nearly 177,000 jobs that would not exist without the University, according to the study.

President’s compensation

Trustees approved a request by Killeen to eliminate a deferred compensation clause from his contract that would have paid him $225,000 if he remained in his position for five years.

Killeen took office in May and asked that the retention clause be removed last summer, citing government budget challenges that have reduced state funding for the University and saying he does not need a financial incentive to stay at the U of I.

He earns $600,000 in base salary and remains eligible for up to $100,000 in annual incentive-based compensation under a program created by the board in 2013 that ties presidential pay to performance.

Trustees developed the new compensation program to move away from retention initiatives that are often paid to senior administrators in higher education and tend to make longevity a premium rather than results. The performance-based incentive program links pay to progress toward specific goals set by the board that advance the University and its missions of education, research, public service and economic development.


The board approved the appointment of Robert A. Barish as vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), a position created through a reorganization that aligned the University of Illinois Hospital, clinics and UIC's health science colleges under a single umbrella.

The reorganization creates a unified health-care enterprise that integrates faculty research and expertise into clinical care, and promotes collaboration among the colleges to foster unique, multidisciplinary programs.

Barish, who is currently chancellor of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, will oversee all academic and clinical programs. Deans of the seven health-science colleges have reported to the UIC provost, while a University-level vice president supervised patient-care operations. Jerry Bauman, who has served as interim vice president for health affairs since 2013, will return to his position as dean of pharmacy at UIC.

A distinguished physician and academic leader, Barish has served as chancellor of LSU’s Health Sciences Center since 2009, providing leadership for the schools of medicine, allied health and graduate programs; a major academic medical center; and two affiliated hospitals.

Barish, who will begin his new duties Jan. 1, was an administrator at the University of Maryland School of Medicine from 1985 to 2009, serving as chief of emergency medicine and as associate dean and vice dean for clinical affairs. He earned his medical degree from New York University Medical School and an MBA from Loyola College.

The board also approved the appointment of Paul Kowalczyk as interim director of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics in Urbana-Champaign. He replaces Mike Thomas, who was dismissed this week after four years as athletics director.

Kowalczyk, who joined the Illini program as senior associate athletic director in 2012, was athletics director at Colorado State University from 2006-2011 and at Southern Illinois University from 2000-2006. During his nearly 30-year career, he also has served with athletics departments at Northwestern University, Kansas State University and Portland State University.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and his master’s degree in sports administration from Kent State University, and will serve during a national search for a permanent athletics director.

Trustees also approved the appointment of James Ermatinger as interim dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS).

Ermatinger will continue to serve as dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, a position he assumed when he joined UIS in 2009. He also has served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Bloomsburg University, chair of the History Department at Southeast Missouri State University, chair of the History Department at Lourdes College and taught at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

He will serve during a national search for a permanent dean and replaces David Racine, who resigned last month as acting dean of the college.

Distinguished Service Medallion

The board presented its Distinguished Service Medallion to Roger L. Plummer, honoring his more than 50 years of loyal and exemplary service as an alumnus and University volunteer.

Plummer earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Urbana-Champaign campus in 1964. He spent his career as an executive in the telecommunications industry, retiring as president of Ameritech’s Custom Business Unit.

He also served for more than a decade on the Board of Trustees and on the boards of directors of the University of Illinois Foundation and Alumni Association, including terms as chairman of both boards.

The Distinguished Service Medallion is only the 30th presented by the board since the honor was created in 1974 to recognize individuals who have contributed to the University’s growth and development with “unusual distinction.” Past awards have honored University presidents, public officials, faculty, staff, and alumni, including professor and two-time Nobel Prize winner John Bardeen and Illini football icon Harold “Red” Grange.

Dental clinic

The board named a clinic in the UIC College of Dentistry as the Dale C. and Caren C. Nickelsen Postgraduate Dentistry Clinic.

The Nickelsens donated $250,000 and helped attract $800,000 in additional gifts for a $1.4 million renovation of the clinic that was completed in 2013. The 3,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art clinic includes 20 operatories, a postgraduate dental laboratory and a resident room with 22 workstations.

Dale Nickelsen spent more than 50 years in private practice after earning dental degrees from UIC. He received the College of Dentistry’s Distinguished Dental Alumnus Award in 2008, and also has held various appointments in the college’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry. The Nickelsens are longtime supporters of the college and were installed in the University of Illinois Foundation’s Centuria Circle in 2010.


The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 80,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.

Follow us on Twitter