The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

Posts Tagged ‘SIUC Staffing Levels

Correction to Graph for Trends at SIUC Part 1

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A reader left a comment criticizing a graph in a previous post about enrollment and employment trends at SIUC. The reader wrote:

Your scale on the professional non-faculty graph is misleading. Unlike most of the other graphs, the scale on the professional non-faculty graph starts at 0, and it looks like it barely changed. Really it was the one of the biggest changes on all of these graphs. The professional non-faculty increased from about 1175 to nearly 1600, a larger increase than the faculty increase from 1525 to about 1650.

The original graph was not an attempt to mislead. In fact, in that post I recommended reducing staff in that category of employment. Still, the reader was right. I replaced the graph. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by The Carbondale Observer

November 23, 2010 at 6:30 am

Furlough Follies: Cheng Will Take Six Days

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Last week I wrote two posts (one, two) criticizing SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng for refusing to follow President Poshard’s lead and take six furlough days. Friday, in an email to SIUC students and staff, Cheng reversed herself:

After considering input I have received from many of you, I plan to take six unpaid closure days. Each vice chancellor will take five unpaid closure days.

This was the right move. I’m glad Cheng is willing to acknowledge mistakes and change course. I wonder if Cheng came to this decision herself, or if Poshard intervened behind the scenes. Either way, I am satisfied with the result. Read the rest of this entry »

Furlough Follies: Cheng’s Misstep Worse than I Realized

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I’ve been posting about the upcoming furloughs all week. Initially, I was critical of five SIUC unions that have refused to cooperate with furloughs. I dubbed them the Foolish Five. As more information becomes available, my views are starting to change.

I mentioned this in yesterday’s post, but I was disappointed with Chancellor Cheng’s decision not to take six furlough days herself, two more than other employees are taking. Wednesday’s Daily Egyptian had a quote from Cheng that I found shocking. In response to a question asking if she would take six furlough days, Cheng said:

“I’m not going to be putting my stuff in the coffer,” she said. “I could work for free for 10 years and still not make up the budget.” Read the rest of this entry »

Furlough Follies: Cheng Stumbles

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SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng held a town hall style meeting in the Student Center ballrooms Tuesday to discuss the upcoming furlough days. Unfortunately, Cheng blew it.

When a questioner asked if she would follow President Glenn Poshard’s lead and take six furlough days, she replied that she wouldn’t. Cheng said it wouldn’t make any difference, so she’d just take four days like everyone else. She complimented Poshard’s generosity.

She totally missed the point. Poshard isn’t taking six furlough days because he’s generous. He’s taking six days because, as a politician, he understands that public perception matters.

It is unwise for an administrator making $350,000 per year to demand that employees making $25,000 per year take four furlough days and refuse to take a larger number  herself. Cheng had an opportunity to show that she was willing to take a larger cut to her much larger salary in order to put SIUC’s fiscal house in order. She passed.

Public perception counts. If Cheng doesn’t believe that, she should go over to the School of Architecture and ask Walter Wendler. The perception that Wendler was an out of touch tyrant undoubtedly aided his undoing. Cheng should avoid his mistakes if she wants to avoid his fate.

Comments are welcome.

Furlough Follies Continue

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Last week I was critical of the Faculty Association’s white paper because the authors repeatedly referred to late payments from the state. It seemed to me that either they didn’t understand the difference between a cash flow crisis and a budget crisis, or they were deliberately trying to mislead. Last Friday, SIU President Glenn Poshard released a statement to clear up any confusion:

A cash flow crisis is created when an inordinate delay takes place in payments from the state for our operating funds out of which we make payroll.  A budget crisis may develop by an actual cut-back of state funding from the previous year, resulting in an unbalanced budget. It is a completely separate issue from the cash flow problem altogether.

Now let us turn to FY11.  On July 1, SIU’s state appropriation was signed into law at a level 7% lower than the previous year.  This amount represents approximately what the university received in 1999.  For the Carbondale campus, the loss of federal stimulus funds which comprised 7% of our state reimbursement in FY10, the elimination of millions of dollars in state reimbursements to SIUC this fiscal year for mandated entitlements of free tuition and fees to veterans, a further delay in MAP funding for FY11, as well as unaddressed enrollment shortfalls from this and previous years has contributed to an unbalanced operating budget totaling more than $15 million.  We have no authority, nor will we, to borrow against budget shortfalls. Read the rest of this entry »

SIUC Unions Make One Good Point

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Just a short post today. I was critical of five SIUC unions in a post earlier this week. In the interest of fairness, I should point out that the unions do make one good point. The proposed furlough plan is unfair because the highest paid employees and the lowest paid employees are all expected to take the same number of furlough days.

When UIUC used furloughs earlier this year, upper administrators took ten furlough days. Faculty and other employees took four days. Employees making less than $30,000 per year were exempt from furloughs, as were civil service employees.

I’ll give credit where credit is due. The SIUC unions are right to complain when employees making $32,000 per year are losing the same four days as employees making $120,000 per year. They’re also right to draw attention to the top heavy management and the growth in administrative/professional employment at SIUC.

The unions are wrong to deny that labor cost reductions are an important part of improving SIUC’s fiscal health. As I’ve pointed out previously, employment has grown while enrollment has declined. Action is necessary to resolve the budget shortage, and furloughs are less painful than layoffs.

At least some faculty recognize this and are open to furlough days. Others can’t read the writing on the walls and pledge to fight. That is their right, but I think they’re wrong.

Comments are welcome.

Written by The Carbondale Observer

November 11, 2010 at 7:45 am

Furloughs at SIUC: The Flat Earthers Revolt

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The Southern Illinoisan reported last week that Chancellor Rita Cheng announced the dates of the upcoming furloughs in an email to all staff. Several unions on campus have accepted the inevitable and agreed to the furlough days. Unfortunately for SIUC and the employees they represent, some unions have chosen to bury their heads in the sand and deny that furloughs are necessary.

From Cheng’s email:

As of today’s date, we have not yet been able to reach agreement with some bargaining units.  For these units, including the Faculty Association, the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, the Association of Civil Service Employees, Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, and AFSCME Local # 878, we will continue to consider all options to reach our savings goals.  Those options include layoffs of bargaining unit employees. While layoffs are not our first choice, they may become necessary to achieve a balanced University budget.  We intend to continue bargaining in good faith with these units in order to reach some type of mutually acceptable resolution.

Suggestions on ways in which we can avoid layoffs for these units should be directed to the applicable union representatives so that employees’ ideas or opinions are expressed through the appropriate labor organization. As always, we encourage all represented employees to work with their bargaining unit and labor union leadership, as we work with those organizations to resolve these issues. Read the rest of this entry »

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