Facing what he called a "gradual, persistent, troubling withdrawal
of state support for the University of Illinois," interim University of Illinois President
Stanley Ikenberry testified before the Chicago City Council's Finance
and Education committees this morning in favor of a resolution
that would urge state lawmakers to make good on $464 million in late
payments already appropriated to Illinois' largest university system.
Ikenberry told aldermen today that the state budget deficit, along with years of underfunding of higher education, has put his school in a "very perilous circumstance." The University of Illinois Extension Service has already approved deep cuts
in 12 offices. The university's reserve fund is also draining quickly. As a result, incoming freshman next year might see tuition and fees increase 9 percent.
The only alternative solution, Ikenberry stressed, is an income tax increase.
"The more quickly we address this financial problem," he said, "the
more solvable it will be and the less pain we will suffer."
The resolution was well-received by the two committees. "I get the
sense," said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th Ward), "that you're preaching to
the choir." Lyle equated U of I's troubles with the state's inability
to fund K-12 schools adequately. "Maybe I will just testify here for
our state appropriations," Ikenberry joked. "It's a lot more cordial
On April 21, students and teachers from around Illinois will join with other affected Illinoisans at a rally in Springfield in support of new revenue.