Local leaders, students come out against SIU funding shift - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local leaders, students come out against SIU funding shift

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CARBONDALE -- The SIU board of trustees considers a plan to shift money from the Carbondale campus to Edwardsville.

Board members are scheduled to vote Thursday on a proposal to move $5.1 million, aimed at making funding more equal to enrollment at each campus.

The board held a work session Wednesday ahead of the vote and students came out to protest the proposal, along with SIUC chancellor Carlo Montemagno's reorganization plan, chanting phrases such as "Montemagno's got to go" and "Our education, our institution" outside the student center ballroom.

Faculty and staff also voiced their opposition during Wednesday's public comment period.

"Issuing a cut of this magnitude based solely on enrollment is simply irresponsible," Rod Sievers, chair of the SIUC Administrative and Professional Staff Council, said.

At the heart of the debate is how state funding is distributed, something that's supposed to be 60-40 in favor of Carbondale but last year was closer to a 64-36 split.

That's despite enrollment on the two campuses growing closer and closer together. Spring enrollment in Carbondale was 13,346 while in Edwardsville, it was 12,976.

SIU system president Randy Dunn supports the shift while Montemagno said it could threaten the university's bottom line.

Local government leaders agree more with Montemagno.

"SIUC is an economic driver for the region and we need to protect it," Carbondale mayor Mike Henry said.

Henry hosted several local mayors and other city officials Wednesday to express concern with the cost-shift plan.

"Moving that amount of money out of our region is going to have a significant impact on all of us," Herrin mayor Steve Frattini said.

Some have concerns the SIU board is moving too fast on the proposal, while others worry the plan could lead to more economic problems for the region.

"Anybody in southern Illinois, as a mayor, a county board member, a commissioner, who doesn't think it's important to be a champion for this university and for the city of Carbondale is cutting off their nose to spite their face," Murphysboro mayor Will Stephens said.

Whether or not there's a way to keep Carbondale leaders happy while funding both schools fairly is up to the board to decide. It meets Thursday at 10 a.m. in Carbondale.

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