WIU cuts 100 jobs, implements furlough for others, and freezes hiring

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Western Illinois University will cut 100 jobs, implement a hiring freeze, reduce office hours and reduce staff contracts to make $20 million in cuts.

The university confirmed in late 2015 that staff cuts and other reductions were coming; they blamed the Illinois state budget impasse and “probable reductions to state appropriated funding for higher education” for the cuts in a statement February 26, 2016.

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At least 50 employees took advantage of a retirement incentive offered in 2015. WIU also increased tuition for the current school year.

WIU will cut $20 million over the next two fiscal years, the February announcement said. Additional cuts will include reducing 12-month administrative staff contracts to 10 or 11 months, closing or combining some offices, reducing 100 faculty and staff positions, and reducing the office hours for some offices.

Officials at the WIU campus in Moline had no indication of whether anyone on that campus would be part of the newly-announced cuts.

WIU is also under a hiring freeze, effective immediately.

“Without a state budget and additional reductions across divisions, payroll obligations will be difficult to meet for July and August,” the WIU statement said. So, they will limit spending to essential needs and implement mandatory furloughs for all non-negotiated personnel beginning April 1, 2016.

WIU President Jack Thomas said staff cuts were also necessary to “protect our ability” to implement contractual salary increases for workers covered by collective bargaining units.

“We must brace for the difficult times ahead. We must protect the cash resources of the university in order to continue to provide services to our students and prepare for Fall 2016,” Thomas said. “Without these reductions, we risk jeopardizing the entire enterprise.”

Thomas said WIU officials hoped the budget stalemate would end soon.

“Our hope is our governmental leaders will end this unprecedented impasse and recognize that our public universities need our state funds to operate and continue to support our students,” Thomas said.