Western Illinois University announces two-dozen faculty layoffs

MACOMB, Illinois -- The Board of Trustees of Western Illinois University announced that two-dozen faculty members, including seven on tenure, will be laid off by June 30, 2019.

The layoff announcement came in a media release sent by the Board on Thursday, June 28.

The layoff notices, which provide a one-year advance notice, will be sent in accordance with the University Professionals of Illinois 4100 WIU Chapter agreement and any mutually agreed upon extensions. The last date of employment is dependent upon the dates outlined within the agreement, according to the release.

In addition to the layoffs, there will be a further 62 vacant faculty positions from retirements and resignations eliminated.

A WIU spokesperson said 23 of the layoffs will be on the Macomb campus and one in the Quad Cities campus in Moline.

"This directive we are putting forth to University leadership is not a decision we have made lightly as these decisions affect people, and we realize that at a later date there may be other employee groups affected by layoffs," Board Chairperson Cathy Early wrote in the statement. "The Board directs the University administration to make the decisions necessary. Higher education institutions must continually reevaluate their methods of delivery and recalibrate to meet the ever-changing challenges and opportunities. We are making these decisions in order to reposition Western for future growth, viability and sustainability, while remaining fiscally responsible to our students and taxpayers."

Early stated that the reductions are necessary to "meet the changing nature of higher education" and that the current realities facing public higher education. Early expressed her belief that WIU's mission and students' academic progress will not be compromised by the decision.

Bill Thompson, president of University Professionals of Illinois 4100 WIU Chapter, said it is unfair for faculty to bear the brunt of poor administration and government decisions.

"This is another dark day for Western Illinois University," Thompson said. "Faculty and academic staff did not cause the enrollment decline and, yet, once again are being let go to pay for the failure of the administration to successfully address the decline.
Students do not come to a university because of its administration. They come because of the faculty and the curriculum the faculty teach. Students come to work with the faculty who will challenge them to surpass their teachers, that is to go forward, learn more, do more. When faculty are laid off, those opportunities decrease. And that can never be a good thing."

Thompson said UPI is committed to making sure employees are treated fairly and in accordance with the contract.

WIU President Jack Thomas said the university continues to adapt to the "changes facing public higher education" and that realignment of staff is a necessary part of that adaption.

"As the state returns to what we hope is an era of fair and predictable funding, Western is making greater investments in high demand programs," Thomas said. "Western remains committed to addressing the needs of our community, our region, and beyond, and accommodating public demand by providing affordable, quality educational opportunities."