Illinois State University President Larry Dietz said a looming state election cycle could hold new budget negotiations hostage.
Dietz told the campus community during his State of the University speech on Thursday that possibility is tempering his essential optimism and forcing planners to come up with contingencies in case stopgap budgeting returns.
Dietz says the last two years of deadlock reduced ISU funding by $51 million compared to budgets frozen at 2015 levels.
Dietz repeated his mantra that ISU is strong and stable and has weathered the budget deadlock better than many public universities in the state.
Dietz said he would try to address pay discrepancies for some faculty compared to other institutions.
"Right now, the salaries of full and associate professors at Illinois State lag significantly behind those at many of our peer group institutions. My goal is to begin closing that gap—a gap that has resulted in salary compression and inversion issues on campus. One mechanism we are investigating is to enhance the promotion increase for those who have been elevated from assistant to associate professor and associate to full professor while serving at Illinois State," said Dietz.
Dietz also said he hopes to offer a mid-year pay increase for faculty and staff.
"I stress that none of these initiatives are as of yet written in stone, but you will be likely be hearing more about them at the college, departmental and divisional levels during this academic year" said Dietz.
On the academic front, the President said ISU is exploring whether to add engineering physics and mechanical, electrical and systems engineering programs.
"Faculty have already examined employment outlook data for various engineering specialties and have drafted some plans of study. Next steps for our faculty include visits to several universities with existing programs to better understand the resources, facilities, equipment and personnel needed to launch engineering programs," said Dietz.
Dietz also praised the work of a Climate Assessment Task Force which has issued a report on making the campus more diverse. Dietz said a number of new initiatives are already under way.
"One includes a new, campuswide Diversity Executive Council, which I see as a clear step toward the institutionalization of diversity on campus. We are all a reflection of our University values, and the establishment of the Diversity Executive Council reinforces this core value while sending the message that diversity and inclusion must emanate from every office and every individual on campus.," said Dietz.
Dietz said he believes the executive council will offer a chance for everyone to have a voice to strengthen the university.
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