Hundreds impacted as EIU forced to make drastic cuts

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Latest: 10:55 pm, 2/15/16, Monday 

EASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY — Good news for some workers. EIU laid off fewer employees than expected. 198 layoff notices were scheduled to go out last week, but then ended up serving 177 instead.

Last week, EIU’s president said the budget crisis forced the university to make cuts. The state owes EIU about $50 million.

Some employees, whose positions didn’t get cut, will still have to take furlough days starting next month. 

Update: 10:05 pm, 2/10/16, Wednesday

EASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY — The university is struggling to stay afloat without state funding. It’s waiting on $50 million. Supporters held a huge rally just days ago. They’re pleading for an appropriations bill.

EIU grad Lisa Hugg has a lot of love for her alma mater.

“It was just an overall community feel to it. Just a great small school.”

So much love, she made a career of it, working 13 years as a secretary in the housing and dining department. That is, until this week when she was told she would have to meet human resources.

“A lot of things were going through my mind. I mean, a bunch of things, my future, just general heartbreak.”

The state owes Eastern about $50 million. President David Glassman has been trying to cut back for months, laying off some workers before the school year started and suspending non-essential projects.

“There wasn’t really anything I could do. I mean, I’m stuck in this position and so is the university really.”

198 layoffs, including Hugg’s, will be made permanent if the state doesn’t pass a budget by March 12. That’s just about 30 days away.

“I love this university. I’d love to see it thrive again. I mean, I would love to see it thrive again and be what it used to be.”

Hugg says she and her co-workers don’t have a lot of hope it will happen.

“I was able to control my emotions, but it was really heartbreaking. It still is.”

“They’re all in shock. It’s really widespread. None of us can believe it.”

She says what’s happening at Eastern could serve as a warning to other universities as she starts a life change she never expected she’d face.

“I’m hoping that I won’t have as much trouble finding a job as I’m afraid I will and the same for others. I mean, I hope that everyone is able to get through this however they have to.”

Workers who aren’t being laid off will be forced to take one furlough day a week starting March 1 and going through at least June. President Glassman says it will save the school some cash.

Students are also taking a hit because of the money troubles. Workers providing services to students who need special testing accommodations say, starting Monday, their services will no longer be provided. There’s not enough staff and no money to hire anyone else. About 90-students used the service last semester. 

Original: 1:30 pm, 2/9/16, Tuesday

EASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY — The future’s uncertain for a lot of people in Central Illinois. Monday, EIU announced nearly 200 jobs will be cut this week. The state’s budget woes forced the cuts.

President David Glassman says his campus is suffering without state funding and the mass layoffs are only part of the solution.

All administrative and professional employees will be required to take several furlough days each month, at least until the end of June. In all, 198 civil service employees will get pink slips Wednesday or Thursday.

Non-essential construction and maintenance projects will stay suspended. Students say program cuts are already noticeable.

Community leaders and business owners joined in sending a message to lawmakers in Springfield. Glassman says things could improve if the state starts paying by March 12, otherwise, that’s the date anyone given a pink slip will be out of work.

Because of the layoffs, EIU’s annual Years of Service Luncheon has been canceled for this week. President Glassman says out of respect to the people facing layoffs, it will be postponed until later in the year. Employees can contact the vice president of business affairs to get their service pins.

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