Western Illinois University has a to do list. It is called the Deferred Maintenance List.
It's a list of projects that need to be completed around the campus. WIU needs about 500 million dollars to make that list go away, but a lot factors contribute as to why it is still around.
First, the state's budget.
They have had trouble meeting their own budget obligations in the state they've reduced funding to education, specifically higher education, so our budget has gone form 65 million down to 52.7 million, Matt Bierman, WIU Budget Director said. WIU has seen their budget cut about 12 percent over the last several years.
Bierman says at Wednesday afternoon's budget meeting the vice presidents will announce more cuts, about 2 million dollars.
This year's budget brings lots of challenges as they have for the last several years, the state of Illinois. Our states' appropriations continue to struggle and lag behind what we expect what we should be getting, which is increases over the last several years, we've seen nothing but decreases. Bierman said.
Bierman also said because the state is not investing enough money that the costs are regretfully being passed along to students. Also, the state is late making payments which adds more stress to WIU.
Second, high tuition.
Because of high tuition hikes, Illinois students are going to neighboring states whose tuition have stayed the same. According to Bierman, The state's lack of interest is robbing everyone's future.
"If a student goes to another state, they are way more likely to stay in that state after they graduate, which is a brain drain for us. We want the students to get a degree in Illinois and stay in Illinois and we don't want them to go to Missouri or Indiana and get a degree there and stay there." Bierman said.
He says they do not want students to carry all of the costs, so they have been making reductions and they will keep making reductions. One way they reduce is by attrition. Attrition is when people leave, resign or retire and they do not fill that position.
That position is absorbed by someone still at WIU.
Scott Coker, Director of Facilities Management says his department does a lot of that. He says a lot of the buildings, like Sherman Hall, are on that Deferred Maintenance List.
"If we were to remodel Sherman Hall it would be a 50 million dollar project, Coker says. The landmarks' pipes, drinking fountains and roof need to replaced. It was built in the 1900s and Coker says it could last another hundred years.
They design their buildings to last with a modernization at the forty to fifty year mark. He says some buildings are nearing that mark which is why they have been added to the list.
Coker says they often wait until something breaks to fix it because they'll be wasting money fixing every problem as it comes.
More students, more money.
WIU recently announced their fall to spring retention rates are up and that is a step in the right direction.
Bierman says regardless of the reductions, they do not want to diminish the student experience and will keep that a priority.