The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a request for increased state funding for the next fiscal year that would be used to continue improving access and affordability at its three universities, enhance student mental health services and strengthen efforts to attract and retain world-class faculty.
The budget request seeks $683.2 million in operating funds for fiscal year 2023, which would represent a 9.8 percent increase over the current year’s appropriation.
“The University of Illinois System is dedicated to offering a world-class education to Illinoisans from all backgrounds, and to serving the state beyond our campuses with innovation that promises the keys to a better, more-prosperous future,” President Tim Killeen said. “As demonstrated by the development of our SHIELD COVID-19 test and the trials of life-saving vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic, our talented faculty offer solutions to the greatest challenges facing our society.
“To continue serving Illinois and providing excellence at scale, we count on the investment of state funding to add to and retain our talented faculty, and to provide more financial aid to ensure that a U of I education remains accessible and affordable for our students,” he said.
Trustees met virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 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 requested operating funds would allow the U of I System to expand its support for the state’s economy and Illinois’ citizens by focusing in particular on five key areas:
- The new funding would allow the system to provide an additional $10 million a year in undergraduate scholarships for students from Illinois to slow the flow of students who choose to leave the state for college. The system currently provides $261 million in institutional aid per year, nearly double what it provided a decade ago.
- The system plans to use $7.5 million in new funding to expand “bridge” programs to reduce barriers to enrollment for many students. Programs include, among others: the Illinois Scholars Program to help incoming, first-year students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) acclimate before school starts; the Summer College Program to help students transition from high school to the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC); and the STARS and Summer Bridge programs to help students transition to life at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS).
- Another $7.5 million would be used to enhance mental health programs for students. The mental health needs of the system’s more than 94,000 students have expanded dramatically during the pandemic.
- System leaders plan to devote $10 million as part of a five-year plan to recruiting world-class faculty to meet demand created by growing enrollment. As part of the system’s commitment to increasing the educational opportunities available for Illinoisans, it has increased enrollment by 16 percent since the fall of 2017. Faculty hiring has not kept pace.
- The remaining funds would be used for a modest salary program in order to maintain competitive compensation rates and retain talented faculty and staff. A recent analysis found that faculty salaries at the three system universities lag those found at many peer universities.
The budget request also includes $673.3 million in capital funds that would pay for new buildings and renovations while also addressing deferred maintenance at the three system universities.
The three U of I System universities pump $17.5 billion into the state’s economy every year and account for more than 171,000 Illinois jobs – one in every 46 jobs across the state.
Trustee Kareem Dale
Trustee Kareem Dale was recognized with a resolution thanking him for his leadership and loyalty while serving on the board.
Dale’s term is scheduled to end in 2023 but he is leaving the board effective Friday as he and his family relocate to Atlanta.
Dale was appointed to the board in 2019. He is a graduate of UIUC, with a bachelor’s degree in advertising in 1995, as well as a juris doctorate and MBA in 1999.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to appoint a replacement soon.
Online-Degree Agreement Extension
In addition, trustees agreed to extend an agreement between UIUC and Coursera Inc. for the promotion and delivery of online programs for students through September 2026, with a two-year renewal option.
The extension amends the terms of the agreement to provide UIUC with a greater share of revenue generated by the programs. The programs currently generate about $54 million a year.
UIUC has worked with Coursera since 2012. Gies College of Business launched its online iMBA with Coursera in 2015 and now offers three online degrees. The UIUC Department of Computer Science launched its Master of Computer Science in Data Science degree with Coursera in 2016.
Swine Research Center
Trustees also approved an $18 million plan to modernize the Swine Research Center (SRC) at UIUC and relocate the Imported Swine Research Laboratory.
The project includes renovation of existing buildings, installing new biomedical facilities and improving biosecurity capabilities. The Imported Swine Research Laboratory will be moved from its current location at Hazelwood Drive and First Street to the 17-acre SRC at Curtis Road and First Street.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will contribute $7 million to the project, with the university covering the remaining costs.