Western Illinois University

Peter Medlin

About a mile away from Northern Illinois University’s campus in DeKalb, a nice 2-story house on the corner of Woodlawn Drive is vacant. The only sign of wear in sight is on a small metal sign in the freshly cut yard where the address is slowly rusting away. 

Built in 1955, this house has been home to the presidents of NIU. But, when Dr. Lisa Freeman was hired last year, she already had a home in DeKalb.

RICH EGGER

Tammy Yates was excited to come to Macomb seven years ago. Yates and her partner Chad Hunziker opened Chubby's, a restaurant on West Adams Street, just a few blocks from the Western Illinois University campus.

"Just the vibe of the whole campus in 2012 was happy. It was positive and people were having fun," said Yates.

"It’s a little different now."

State university officials were grilled by lawmakers Tuesday. At issue is a record of lucrative severance packages for outgoing administrators.


Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University officials say the school spent more than $180,000 for outside legal counsel to handle an investigation by the state Office of the Executive Inspector General into hiring at NIU.

NIU officials say the cost of outside legal counsel reflects 320 total hours worked by nine people in the outside firm. That calculates to more than $560 per hour.

Western Illinois University is developing contingency plans in case the ongoing shortfall of state funding continues.  But the administration is not yet ready to reveal details of these plans. 

The state has gone nearly two years without a budget.  Public colleges and universities received some state funding through a stop-gap spending plan approved in late June of last year, but they have not received any state money this calendar year.

"old gym locker room" by Flickr user Charles Kremenak / (CC X 2.0)

Student enrollment has been trending down at Western Illinois University for much of the last decade. For the first time this century, there are fewer than 10,000 students enrolled at Western.

Dr. Ron Williams is the interim vice president for student services at Western. He says there about 629 fewer students this semester compared to last spring. 

He says that’s a loss of about 6.5 percent.

Western Illinois University

  The President of Western Illinois University will keep his job for at least one more year.  

The Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to extend Dr. Jack Thomas' contract through the 2016-2017 fiscal year. 

Reading from a prepared statement during the board's quarterly meeting, Chairman Roger Clawson said trustees enthusiastically commend Thomas for the leadership he showed in difficult times.  Trustees also say they support his strategic vision for WIU.  

Rich Egger

Jerry Tyson has been cutting hair since 1955. And his single-chair barbershop – aptly named The Barbershop – has been providing  haircuts and shaves near downtown Macomb since the early 1980s.

  Tyson estimated 30%-40% of his customers are workers or students at Western Illinois University.  But he suspects his customer base might shrink as workers are let go or furloughed.

EIU

Two publicly funded universities in Illinois have taken steps to deal with financial strictures caused by the state's continuing budget impasse. 

Eastern Illinois University's president says layoffs and furloughs are a possibility if the impasse isn't settled soon.  David Glassman is halting some equipment purchases, delaying maintenance and freezing employee travel to save money.  Glassman sent a letter to campus, blaming Illinois' financial troubles for EIU's monetary problems.  Eastern is waiting for a $40 million state appropriation.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University hopes a decrease in tuition rates will increase its enrollment numbers.

The three-percent tuition decrease goes into effect next fall. It’s only for new students.

In addition, western will no longer charge out-of-state students a higher tuition than in-state students.

Western Budget Director Matt Bierman says the University hopes to make a splash.

Regardless Of Budget, WIU Workers Get Paychecks

Jun 15, 2015
Tim Schroll/WIU

Employees of Western Illinois University will receive paychecks next month whether the state has approved a new budget or not. 

The board of trustees held its quarterly meeting on the Quad Cities campus in Moline on Friday.

The fiscal year begins July 1, and budget director Matt Bierman says WIU has enough money to get by for several months.

“We’ll be okay for most of the fall semester, because of tuition dollars,” Bierman said. “We’ll be fine through November. We’ll see how it goes after that.”

Tim Schroll/WIU

Reporters working for the student newspaper at Western Illinois University will be able to continue freelancing. At least for now.  

The Western Courier’s position on freelancing was called into question recently when the university suspended the editor-in-chief Nick Stewart from his job with pay. The university took action after Stewart filmed and sold a video of a large fight after a Black Student Association event on campus.