Leaders in higher education in Southwest Illinois spoke to a full room of Illinois Public Affairs Network members on Friday, July 15th at the Doubletree Hotel in Collinsville. Dr. Randy Dunn, President of the Southern Illinois University System, and Ken Scheffel, Vice President of Enrollment Services at Lewis and Clark Community College spoke to the budget challenges higher education institutions in Illinois are facing. Sen. Dave Luechtefeld spoke to higher education funding from the legislature’s perspective and provided a legislative update.
Kent Scheffel spoke to the impact of delayed and reduced funding from the state on Lewis and Clark Community College. He cited a number of examples, including reducing the number of adjunct faculty by more than 30, which in turn reduced more than 60 class offerings and creates challenges for students. Adult education classes have been cut, as has travel and supply budgets, and the school is in a semi-hiring freeze.
Dr. Randy Dunn echoed many of the sentiments shared by Kent, and spoke to three major ways they are impacted, through dismantling, disinvestment, and disinterest. He noted that the funding cuts and delays have led to a dismantling of their organizational infrastructure, disinvestment in the schools and in the communities they serve, and disinterest from students. Both speakers noted that it was tough to watch the migration of students from Illinois to other states. MAP grant applications are down by 18,000 and SIUE growth will slow next year, both indications of Illinois students going to colleges and universities in other states.
Senator Luechtefeld gave some context, that higher education has faced significant cuts over the last three governors’ administrations. It made it tough for them to be cut repeatedly, then hit with a budget crisis and state higher education institutions don’t have any spare resources to deal with it. Dr. Randy Dunn, President of the Southern Illinois University System speaks to the July IPAN meeting as fellow panelist Kent Scheffel of Lewis and Clark Community College looks on.