July’s Board of Trustees meeting brought an unprecedented distribution of new state funds between the Edwardsville and Carbondale campuses and further talk of creating a fair distribution of recurrent funding between the two campuses.
BOT approves evenly splitting what remains of the new increase in state funding, deviating from the traditional allocation model
The SIU system received a 5 percent increase in state appropriations for FY 20. Board Chair Phil Gilbert and Vice Chair Ed Hightower proposed to split what remains of these extra funds evenly between SIUE and SIUC after the traditional allocation of funds to the School of Medicine and System Office are awarded. The plan was approved at the meeting by the remaining board members.
This new plan differs from the traditional formula that awards Carbondale roughly 60 percent of the funds and Edwardsville 40 percent. According to Gilbert, the new plan will give Edwardsville approximately a million dollars more than it would have received under the traditional model.
SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook said this increase will allow proposals to increase faculty and staff salaries and said such a proposal will go before the board at the September meeting.
“[It will be used] to increase support for faculty and staff as it relates to salaries, so we’ll be taking a proposal about salary increases back to the board at the September meeting,” Pembrook said.
Pembrook also said the additional funding will help to develop and improve academic programs, such as cyber security and starting physical and occupational therapy programs, as well as to balance out inflationary costs that come with running the university.
“There are what I call inflationary costs that just make it more expensive to run a university every year, just like [how] the price of gas and the price of stamps go up and the price of electricity goes up, so part of that increased support helps us with the ongoing [costs] of running a university,” Pembrook said.
Gilbert said he and Hightower crafted the plan as a small step toward addressing the need for a new funding allocation model for recurring state costs.
“We wanted to be fair, and Dr. Hightower and I thought that as a start, we would split this new money fifty-fifty between Edwardsville and Carbondale,” Gilbert said. “It doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be the division allocation going forward.”
Mathematics and statistics professor Marcus Agustin, who was the 2017-18 Faculty Senate president, said while he views this fifty-fifty split of new money as a step in the right direction, he wonders if funding changes are happening quick enough. However, he said he appreciates the board’s consideration of SIUE’s needs.
“I think it’s going in a good direction, but is it fast enough? It’s hard for me to make that decision,” Agustin said. “It appears that at least the current board probably are looking more into SIUE’s progress and the direction that we’re headed. It’s not about forgetting about all the things that are happening at Carbondale, but I think that it’s a good, positive direction that hopefully will have a positive impact on us.”
AGB Consulting does not provide board with specific formula for recurring fund allocations, board forms a group to get the job done
While it did not provide a mathematical formula for allocating recurring state funds between Edwardsville and Carbondale, AGB Consulting firm gave the board a list of recommendations to create the formula themselves.
Gilbert said this was not the response he was expecting, as he was hoping to gain more guidance from the firm and recognizes the board must take steps to create the large-scale model.
“They gave us the framework for it, but I was hoping for more from them,” Gilbert said. “We didn’t get it, so as I said in the meeting, we are going to take the bull by its horns and finish this job. They gave us a good start, but we are going to finish it.”
The board committed to create a group with representatives from Carbondale, Edwardsville and the system as a whole, complete with financial experts, to examine the recurring state funding, according to Pembrook. The team will be expected to present a recommendation for a new allocation model by December.
According to Gilbert, this will not be an easy task, as a variety of factors have to be considered beyond just enrollment, including how to best serve the different missions of each campus and the costs to educate students in certain fields.
“For example, it costs more to educate somebody in the dental school or in pharmacy than a person getting an English degree,” Gilbert said. “It costs more to educate somebody in aviation in Carbondale because you’re buying airplanes and simulators than somebody getting a history degree. So the missions are similar, but there’s also some differences between the missions of the two campuses, and we are going to take all that into consideration.”
SIUE’s budget director William Winter and Chief of Staff Kim Durr were asked to represent the Edwardsville campus in this group, according to Pembrook.
Facilities Management sees contracts awarded and approval of water-valve replacement at meeting
The board also awarded contracts relating to the swing space used during phase two of the Founders Hall renovation.
This renovation is part of the 21st Century Buildings Plan, and according to Director of Facililties Management Craig Holan, phase two includes working on the basement and first floor of Founders.
During phase one of the Founders Hall renovations, which included the top two floors, space was made in the Vadalabene Center and Science East to meet the needs of those who had to be relocated. Holan said the relocated individuals are moving back into Founders and those who are impacted during phase two are moving into the swing space.
“As we move people back into Founders that are in the top two floors, we are taking the space that was configured for them and reconfiguring it for phase two use,” Holan said. “[There will be] more classrooms in Science East and the Speech Pathology over in the Vadalabene.”
The majority of the money awarded, which comes from the Facilities Fee, was awarded to Fry-Wagner Moving & Storage for reallocation services.
A system-wide water valve replacement for the Edwardsville and Alton campuses was approved during the BOT meeting, as the Capital Development Board decided to fund the replacement of remaining water valves, hydrants and main distribution pumps of the Water Distribution System on the two campuses.
According to the meeting agenda, many of the valves are from the original construction of the campus and have been failing, along with fire hydrants. Because of a lack in isolation valves, large parts of the system have to be shut down when doing repairs.
The $2.5 million funding was granted after this need rose higher on the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Emergency Critical Infrastructure and Life Safety Projects List.
Holan said before this funding was approved, Facilities Management had been upgrading and repairing SIUE’s Water Distribution System little-by-little for three years using internal funding. Now that they will be getting external funding for the project, Holan said the project will speed up exponentially.
“We were only approaching it in the neighborhood between $4,000 and $6,000 a year, and so now what we’ll be able to do is we have that plan set already, but we’ll be adding Alton in and we’ll have enough funds to just do it all in one year and finish everything up,” Holan said.
BOT meeting brings additional changes to campus, while SIUE will continue use of Blackboard
Other changes will be happening on campus as a result of July’s BOT meeting, including changes within the Vadalabene Center. The board approved a proposal to name the gym inside the Vadalabene the First Community Arena as part of a naming rights and sponsorship agreement with First Community Credit Union.
According to the meeting agenda, the agreement will provide SIUE with up to $2,760,000 over the 10-year initial contract period, which ends June 30, 2029. If SIUE receives a two-year extension, the end date would be June 30, 2031.
Changes in leadership also resulted from the meeting, as the BOT approved Mark Luer as Dean of the School of Pharmacy and Robin Hughes as Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior.
The university will also be using Blackboard Learning Management System for five more years as the board approved a five-year, $1,300,676 contract with Blackboard, Inc. The contract is set to expire on June 30, 2024 and is funded by ITS student fee accounts.
For more information on BOT affairs, visit their website. Specific information on past meetings, including audio recordings and minutes, can be found under the site’s “meetings” tab.