Friday, February 20, 2015

$209 million 'significant hit' to UI's funding

The University of Illinois goes through a lot of money in a year — more than $5 billion, in fact.

But most of it is restricted to specific uses — gifts from donors for a designated building; grants for a particular research project; income from the medical clinics in Chicago. It can't be used to pay an English professor (unless it's designated for that purpose).

So when the governor talks about cutting nearly $209 million from the university's appropriation — 31.5 percent of its state funding — it is a "significant hit," says Randall Kangas, UI associate vice president for planning and budgeting.

The UI gets about $667 million in state general revenue funding, plus more than $1 billion in state-appropriated tuition income, or $1.765 billion in total. That $209 million represents a 12 percent cut to the UI's unrestricted funding, Kangas said.

"State funds really are the skeleton of the university," Kangas said.

What does $209 million buy, in university terms? Two Springfield campuses, and then some, in terms of total budget ($88.8 million) — or four if you consider just their $53 million in unrestricted funding.

At Urbana, it covers 60 percent of the campus instructional budget ($345 million), or nearly the entire budget for the huge College of Liberal Arts and Sciences ($232.4 million).

This article was published online in The News-Gazette on February 20, 2015.

Read the entire article online.