Illinois Public Higher Education

The Impact of the Illinois Budget Impasse

Title: In the Beginning

Illinois higher education system is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. All of my post-secondary experiences occurred at institutions in the State of Illinois; with three of four degrees awarded by public universities in Illinois. It was that education that I received from Illinois’ public universities that prepared me to launch a higher education administration career, which I believe has and continues to impact the lives of students and many minority students in Illinois and beyond. My culminating experience at Illinois State University was a study that examined national trends and the impact of recessions on tax appropriations (state), need-based aid (federal) and student enrollment at public higher education institutions over 28 years.


I must confess … the dissertation was shredded and set ablaze shortly after all signatures dried, the three stripes were worn and the tassel was turned!!! What a journey.

When I was discussing with colleagues, professional mentors and others about returning to Illinois I heard a common chorus — don’t return to Illinois with the expectation to find work in higher education. They shared that higher education professionals, who were early in their careers, was leaving the state in masses securing more stable jobs elsewhere. Those that were eligible to retire had begun to do so and others were calculating their time to exit. They advised, with all sincerity and concern for me professionally and personally, to sit tight until at least a budget had been passed. Well, I returned to Illinois. And, clearly, well before a budget!

images-5So, I find myself now trying to piece the pages of the singed edges of my dissertation back together to make some sense of not only the most recent recession and its impact, but also funding and enrollment in public universities here in Illinois. There is always dialogue about who pays and who benefits from an educated society. There is always extensive discussion about access to higher education and the barrier of cost. In general, you will here time and time again about the cost of tuition and how it has outpaced inflation. But, is there more? Absolutely. We know there is more because Illinois and its public higher education institutions is living through ‘more.’

Over the course of the coming weeks, it is my intent to analyze and present a thorough overview of the current status of Illinois pubic higher education system. iphec_mapThere is no question that many of the public universities in Illinois are suffering from the three-year budget impasse by our State’s governing body. The articles will have us to believe that our public institutions are on the brink of closure – and some may very well be. It is and will continue to have a devastating impact on our institutions. I think that we all know the impasse is having an adverse impact. But, we are not quite sure how … other than money is not being given to the universities unless it is ‘stop-gap’ funding. And, what exactly is stop-gap funding anyway?

Lets begin to explore Illinois public higher education system together, in particular enrollment and finance, and see where the road leads. More to come!