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Killeen message on state funding agreement

July 1, 2016

The following message was sent today by University of Illinois President Tim Killeen to faculty, staff and students regarding the agreement that provides short-term funding for higher education in Illinois.

Dear colleagues:

Yesterday, legislators and the governor agreed upon legislation for an initial fiscal 2017 spending plan that will fund higher education, K-12 schools and other essential state services through December.

We are grateful for their hard work and bipartisan compromise, which will improve the University’s financial outlook – providing much welcomed funding and temporarily resolving a year-long budget impasse in Springfield.

I am also deeply grateful to everyone in the University of Illinois family who has stepped up over the last year to advocate on our behalf. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and our Board of Trustees have traveled to Springfield to meet personally with legislators. More than 1,200 supporters responded to a call to action last month, sending over 3,500 emails telling their stories about the University’s importance in their lives and to the future of our state. Our U of I Legislative Caucus also has come through for us. All of these contributions have been impactful.

Under the agreement, the University of Illinois system will receive an appropriation of about $350 million for fiscal year 2017, which begins today, about 55 percent of the nearly $650 million we received in our state appropriation for fiscal year 2015. The funds may be used to pay obligations for both fiscal 2016 and 2017. In addition, the measure also funds MAP financial aid grants that students received for last spring’s semester.

The appropriation will provide critical support for our students, our faculty and staff, our world-class academic and research programs, our Chicago health-care enterprise and our Urbana-based state research institutes. It represents a significant step in the right direction, and for now defers the need for layoffs and other austerity measures that could have had an irreversible impact on our core missions and our global standing.

The short-term spending plan is a milepost, but does not bring us to the finish line.  We will continue to advocate for a full fiscal 2016 and 2017 state budget to support our excellence and ensure the long-term stability that is crucial to plan our future. At the same time, we will continue to make our case for future MAP funding to support our most vulnerable students, affordable health-care for our employees and solutions to protect the retirement benefits they have earned.

We also will continue to apply the lessons we have learned through a year of self-examination and self-assessment – hard and ongoing work that has helped us operate more efficiently and effectively, and sharpened our focus on marshaling resources to serve our students and the public good.

Despite our challenges over the last year, the University of Illinois system has remained a go-to destination for students and a world leader in education and innovation. We have held our place because of you, and I can’t thank you enough for your patience, your commitment, your creativity and your passion for this great university.

Sincerely,

Tim

           

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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.

 

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