EIU staying afloat amidst state budget issues
In spite of monetary woes reaped by the state’s fiscal situation, Eastern Illinois University has been working to sustain itself and the quality of its services through careful budgeting and cuts.
EIU has recently had to cut costs due to the Illinois budget crisis; nearly 400 positions have been eliminated since June of last year, according to the News-Gazette.
This has been a source of concern for prospective students, with rumors flying of the school cutting programs or even closing. Such rumors, however, are untrue according to Senior Assistant Director of Admissions and Transfer Coordinator Rita Pearson.
“We are not closing. We are not leaving,” Pearson said. “We’re trying to live within our means and we’re doing very well.”
This has meant cuts, but EIU says they have been made strategically to keep them from having a negative impact on academics.
Most of the positions eliminated have been support staff. When faculty positions have been cut it has mostly been from not filling the positions of faculty that have retired or gone to work elsewhere and not hiring back adjunct professors used for overflow sections.
“We cut by—through attrition—retirements, people taking other positions and leaving, and then just not filling those positions,” Pearson said. “We had to cut support staff and that’s the hard thing.”
Pearson explains that the financial hardships that have caused these cuts are not just an issue facing EIU.
“It’s not an Eastern problem; it’s a state of Illinois problem,” she said, adding things should turn around once a budget is made.
“The only reason that we cut some workers there is because of the state budget, so hopefully when that gets resolved we’ll be able to take care of those kinds of issues.”
Even with the Illinois budget in shambles EIU has been able to find a silver lining; Pearson says she is excited by what is happening at the university, namely the additional majors being added to its list of offerings to students. Such additions include a public relations major and computer information technology program. A psychology major is now available online as well.
In addition to these new majors EIU has a lot of other options that Pearson says makes it a very transfer friendly school. One of the big things that Eastern does is that it accepts all college credit as college credit, barring remedial, developmental, and orientation credits.
“We are going to take everything you transfer in as long as it is not remedial, developmental, or orientation. Those are the only three categories we don’t accept,” says Pearson.
Eastern also has a number of degrees that are designed for transfer students, with lower EIU residency hours and even classes offered by EIU on Parkland’s campus.
Normal EIU residency hours are 42, but for some of these special degrees, students only need 20 or 25 credit hours from the university. Junior/senior level credit hour minimums still apply, with the lower limit being 40 semester hours.
“Our faculty will come up here and deliver our classes using Parkland’s classrooms,” Pearson said. “We also have some online options.”
Pearson says EIU offers three undergraduate programs that are taught at Parkland: a bachelor’s in general studies, an organizational development program, and a bachelor’s in business administration.
When considering what options might be best for each individual, Pearson encourages students to come to EIU’s Parkland office, where they can set up an appointment with her or another advisor.
“We have advisors that come up for each one of those programs,” she said.
Pearson says one of EIU’s strengths is in its size: she says it is “one of the smaller state universities.”
“…[Our] student faculty ratio is only like 14:1, which gives you that personal atmosphere which I think is a big strength of EIU—that we really care about the students,” she said. “We care about what you’re experiencing inside and outside of the classroom because we want you to have different kinds of things…maybe study abroad, maybe undergraduate research, maybe internships, job shadowing—all those different things that build your resume.”