The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a request for increased state funding for the next fiscal year that would allow the system to expand its support for the state’s economy by increasing the talent pool, particularly from underserved communities, and further developing the state’s innovation infrastructure.
The budget request seeks $731.77 million in operating funds for fiscal year 2024, which would represent an 11.7 percent increase over the current year’s $655.24 million appropriation.
“This investment from the state of Illinois would expand the ability of the U of I System and its three universities to make real, life-changing differences in the lives of Illinoisans,” system President Tim Killeen said. “Part of this funding would finance new programs designed to increase access to a world-class education for underserved students, and increase their odds of success. Expanding mental health programs, an area of critical need across all of higher education, is also an important part of our plans.”
The U of I System is already an economic engine for the state, one that produces strong returns, Killeen added.
“With almost 95,000 students at our universities and almost 25,000 graduates a year, the university system is helping create the workforce that Illinois needs for the new knowledge economy” he said.
The U of I System’s enrollment accounts for 52 percent of all students attending public universities in the state. Of last year’s 24,700 U of I System graduates, 70 percent stayed in Illinois to become citizens, taxpayers and participants in the state’s economy.
In addition to its contributions to a well-educated workforce, the U of I System has an annual economic impact on the state of $18.9 billion, supports more than 164,000 jobs – one of every 46 jobs in the state – and provides an 11.1 percent return on every state dollar invested, according to a study released in 2022 by the firm Lightcast.
Thursday’s request is the first step in the annual budget process and will be submitted for consideration by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the governor and the legislature.
The additional operating funds requested from the state would provide:
- $7.5 million to expand bridge programs that reduce barriers to enrollment for many students.
- $7.5 million to expand mental health programs for students. Student mental health needs have expanded dramatically during the pandemic.
- $10 million to recruit additional faculty to meet growing enrollment demands and maintain academic excellence. In the past seven years, the U of I System has increased its enrollment by more than 21 percent, adding over 16,300 students.
- $16.47 million to partially offset inflation-driven cost increases, including $8.5 million to offset significant increase in energy prices.
Trustees also approved a request for $682.9 million in capital funding to preserve and enhance facilities already in place on the three campuses and support new initiatives. This includes:
- $243.3 million for repair and renovation. The U of I System has a backlog of more than $2 billion in deferred maintenance.
- $212.6 million that will enhance innovation and education facilities. This would include a renovation and building addition for the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), a new College of Business Administration building at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and remodeling the Brookens building at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS).
- $75 million for hospital and health sciences, including a new Rural Health Sciences Education Building in Rockford.
- $152 million to renovate and upgrade the main undergraduate library at UIUC and fund an expansion of the Richard J. Daley Library at UIC.
Trustees also approved the appointment of Marie Lynn Miranda as the 10th chancellor of UIC. Miranda is the former provost of the University of Notre Dame and a leader in the drive to make higher education more inclusive. She also previously served as provost at Rice University and brings a wide range of other leadership experience from the University of Michigan and Duke University to her new role as chancellor of UIC and its nearly 34,000 students and 13,000 faculty and staff.
Miranda will take office on July 5, 2023. She will succeed Chancellor Michael Amiridis, who became president of the University of South Carolina in June.
Also Thursday, trustees voted to appoint Nicholas P. Jones as the new executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs of the University of Illinois System. Jones comes to the U of I System from Pennsylvania State University, where he is a special advisor to the president after serving as executive vice president and provost for nine years.
When he takes office on Jan. 3, 2023, Jones will replace Avijit Ghosh, who plans to retire after serving as interim executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs since July 2021.
Ghosh joined the U of I System in 2001 as dean of the College of Business and a professor of business administration at UIUC. He has since served in a variety of senior leadership positions that also include heading the system’s economic development efforts and the University of Illinois Hospital.
Trustees also voted Thursday to appoint Robert R. Dixon as the interim vice chancellor for student affairs and interim vice provost for student affairs at UIC, effective Nov. 18. Dixon is currently the registrar at UIC and has been serving as interim vice chancellor-designate since Oct. 16. He succeeds J. Rex Tolliver, who served as vice chancellor for student affairs since July 2017. With Tolliver’s departure, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs was reorganized to include the vice provost’s role.
Trustees voted to extend the contract of UIC men’s head basketball coach Lucas Yaklich by one year, through April 2026. He was hired on a five-year contract in March 2020. Yaklich’s salary will increase from $418,000 to $428,000.