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Chancellor talks budget and campus climate at senate meeting


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Chancellor Koch addressed the campus senate in their first meeting of the semester, discussing the new state budget and the cultural climate of the campus.

With the passage of a new Illinois budget for fiscal year 2018, public universities began seeing the return of state aid. While the aid is back, however, it’s hasn’t returned to its normal rates.

“We got a ten percent budget reduction,” Koch said. “But a ten percent reduction is an awful lot better than a one hundred percent reduction.”

Regardless of the reduction, UIS acquired full funding for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants. According to Koch, over 600 UIS students receive financial aid from MAP grants, meaning the grants are “very, very important to us.”

Beyond state aid, though, one of the major factors impacting the university’s budget is student enrollment.“

Enrollment drives the budget now, more than state allocations,” Koch said.

Official enrollment numbers will be released on Sept. 11, and Senate Chair Ranjan Karri requested an official analysis of the enrollment numbers for the Sept. 15 senate meeting.

In lieu of official numbers, Koch offered her expectations. While online enrollment is expected to rise, undergraduate enrollment is expected to stagnate and graduate student enrollment is expected to show a decline. Koch referred to this as “the Trump effect.”

“A significant number of our Indian students who were intending to come to UIS decided to go to another country,” she explained. “They’re worried about whether their visas will continue to stay in place … they’re worried about safety … they’re worried about whether or not the US is the right place to go.”

This impact can be seen across the country, and is one of the reasons campus climate is a common discussion point.

For UIS, specifically, a major talking point is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, policy. Enacted by the Obama administration, DACA helps protect undocumented students who came to the United States as children. Recently, the Trump administration has discussed ending the program.

“No university knows for certain exactly how many DACA students they have, but we estimate that we have about 20,” Koch said.

Last semester, Koch met with a few DACA students to hear their concerns and discuss the future. “The University of Illinois, like many other universities, has been advocating for those students,” Koch said.

On Tuesday morning, the Trump administration announced its intention to rescind the DACA program. The U of I system president and chancellors released a joint statement, saying “The elimination of DACA is inconsistent with our commitment to accessible and high-qaulity education for all qualified and deserving students.”

The statement went on to say, “We pledge to assist and support our students throughout the process, and we will continue to protect confidential student and employee information to the fullest extent allowed by law.”

After Koch’s address, the senate heard from Dathan Powell, speaking on behalf of the Committee on Sustainability. Powell summarized the two most recent annual reports from the committee, both of which can be found on the campus senate website.

The meeting concluded with brief introductory reports from Karri, Provost Dennis Papini, University Senates Conference member Kathy Novak, and Student Government Association President Garret Nimmo.

No resolutions were presented or adopted.

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Chancellor talks budget and campus climate at senate meeting