URBANA, Ill. —The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a $5.64 billion budget for fiscal 2015 that increases spending by less than 1 percent for the more than 78,000-student university and its three campuses.
The budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 is up 0.2 percent, or $11.1 million, from the year before and reflects the university’s ongoing efforts to maintain academic quality while holding down student cost increases.
“Through cost containment and prudent financial management, the University of Illinois is maintaining its place as one of the world’s premier universities and fulfilling its land-grant mission of student access and affordability,” President Robert Easter said.
The budget includes $4.5 billion for day-to-day operating costs on the University’s campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield – up $69.5 million or 1.6 percent from fiscal 2014. Combined, the three campuses are home to hundreds of academic programs and facilities, more than 28,000 faculty and staff and award more than 20,000 degrees annually.
Day-to-day costs of the University’s educational mission, including salaries and academic support costs, are covered through the budget’s unrestricted funds. State funding and tuition revenue comprise the bulk of unrestricted funds, which increased $35.0 million to $2.10 billion for fiscal 2015, up 1.7 percent from the year before.
The university’s direct state appropriation for fiscal 2015 decreased $1.2 million, or 0.2 percent, to $667.5 million. Tuition revenue increased by $33.8 million, or 3.2 percent, to $1.10 billion, but growth has slowed under a policy adopted by trustees four years ago that seeks to promote student access and affordability by holding tuition increases to the rate of inflation. Under the policy, tuition for incoming freshmen has increased 1.7 percent each of the last two years – the lowest in nearly two decades.
Revenue from restricted funds rose by $34.5 million, or 1.4 percent, to $2.4 billion. Restricted funds include research grants, private donations and gifts, hospital and medical service plan revenues, and auxiliary operations such as campus housing and food services. Those funds must be spent for the specified purpose or in accordance with donor restrictions.
The budget also includes $1.1 billion in payments from the state for employee health-care and pension benefits, down $58.4 million or 4.9 percent from fiscal 2014For the fourth consecutive year, the budget provides a salary program for University faculty and staff, who received no pay increases in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. The merit-based raises will average 2.5 percent, down slightly from 2.75 percent last year.
Easter said the salary program is critical to attract and retain top faculty, who are vital to the University’s teaching and research missions and in high demand by colleges across the nation and beyond.
Fiscal 2016 funding request
The board also approved the University’s request for state operating funds for fiscal 2016, which begins July 1, 2015. The proposal seeks $707.8 million, an increase of $40.3 million – or 2.3 percent – from the fiscal 2015 direct state appropriation.
The request is the first step in the annual budget process, and will be submitted to the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the State of Illinois for consideration.
Officials say most of the requested increase would be used to strengthen academic quality by providing competitive compensation to recruit and retain top faculty and staff. The remainder would address deferred maintenance and facility renovation needs, and cover inflationary cost increases.
The fiscal 2016 budget request also seeks $452.1 million in capital funding, which would largely be used to repair and renovate aging facilities on the university’s three campuses.
The board also appointed longtime University of Illinois at Chicago administrator and professor emeritus Eric A. “Rick” Gislason as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost of the Chicago campus, effective Aug. 16.
Gislason joined UIC in 1969 as a professor of chemistry, and served as interim chancellor of the 28,000-student campus from 2008 to 2009. He also served as head of the chemistry department from 1993 to 1999, as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 1997 to 1998, and as vice chancellor for research from 1999 to 2008.
He replaces Lon Kaufman, who accepted a new position with the University as assistant vice president for corporate and community relations in the Office of the Vice President for Health Affairs, and will serve during a nationwide search for a permanent provost.