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ISU prepared for state budget cuts

Illinois State University is  preparing for a possible state-funding cut of 10 percent of the $74 million state allocated budget.

Prompted by the Illinois Temporary Income Tax Increase set to expire Dec. 31, no indication of an extension has been stated. The state will take back the funds it has provided for state agencies called the mid-year retention.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education recently sent an email to advise state agencies to make preparations for the possibility of an up to 10 percent retention of their current budget.

“What remains to be seen is what kind of cuts there may be and how substantial they may be,” Jay Groves ISU Chief of Staff, said.

The official outcome and extent of the cut is unknown until the spring of 2015 when it is released by Illinois legislation.

However with this warning, universities statewide are preparing for the worst.

“We want to try to balance the cuts in the best way to be the least disruptive to instructional and other services,” Greg Alt, ISU’s interim vice president for finance and planning, said.

ISU has been working to reduce the effect of the cut on students by designing contingency plans for several months.

ISU Administration is trying to spread out the cut and save for the possibility that the university will have to retain part of the budget back to the state.

“Depending on the magnitude of the cut many areas of the university could be impacted,” Groves said.

It means the university have less money available to help with access grants, merit scholarships, deferred maintenance around campus, and IT infrastructure, Alt said.

The process the state goes through involves appropriation hearings by the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives in Springfield.

In the appropriation hearings ISU argues its case for better funding.

ISU has a good case to argue with a graduation rate of 71 percent within six years of study and a low student loan default rate, Alt said.

Library database keeps alums connected

Milner Library has provided a way for Illinois State University alumni to access the library’s research databases, which includes more than 4,000 journals and magazines.

The dean of Milner Library, Dane Ward, said there has been talk of providing this service for about 10 years. He said for a long time students who have graduated have called and asked how to get access to the databases they had when they were a student.

“It’s just been this last year that we were able to get all of the pieces together to work with ISU,” Ward said.

The process involved both the Alumni Association and instructional technology in the library.

Ward emphasized that once students graduate from ISU, it is not all over.

“There is a long-term relationship that we’d like to keep with our students,” he said. “Learning doesn’t end when you graduate from college.”

The new and free service provides alumni with a tool for personal and professional research. The database may provide resources to help ISU alums further their careers.

“It seemed like a natural direction for us to maintain the relationship with graduates,” Ward said.

The university thinks of all ISU graduates as “part of the family,” he added.

Executive Director of Alumni Engagement Doris Groves said she is delighted that graduates of ISU now have access to the databases.

“We have already heard from alumni who are very appreciative of the data that is now available at their fingertips because of their relationship with Illinois State.”

“And the service is reaching alumni near and far,” she said.

The Alumni Association has received inquiries about the service from as far away as Germany and Norway.

The databases are the same as those for current students. They provide reputable sources as opposed to general Internet searches that contain unconfirmed information.

“Graduates may not have access to really good sources of information,” Ward said.

He also mentioned the recent Giving Tuesday event where alumni gave back to ISU a total of $331,702.

“It’s a two-way street,” Ward said. “The university believes we really need to give back to students in the long run.”

The library announced and publicized the service in early November. Since then, the library has continued trying to get the word out to alumni. It is advertised on the Alumni Association webpage, as well as the Milner Library webpage.

“We’re very appreciative of the collaboration between Milner Library and Alumni Relations which has resulted in this service for our graduates,” Groves said.

To access the databases, all the alum needs is their alumni ID, which has a code similar to the ULID.

In the last month, roughly 100 alumni and friends of the library accessed the databases.

In contrast, thousands of additional logins to the database occured by current students, faculty and staff.

“I suspect that current students will be looking at what they will have access to when they graduate,” Ward said.

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Communication Spotlight
School of Communication celebrates retiring Executive Director Larry Long article thumbnailSchool of Communication celebrates retiring Executive Director Larry Long. Larry Long, who is retiring in December, is a one of a kind leader at Illinois State University. As executive director of the School of Communication (SoC), Long is a welcoming, full-hearted man with overwhelming creativity.  [Read the rest]

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