I am delighted to say that after more than two years, the state of Illinois has a fully funded budget bill.
I applaud our legislators for the bipartisan cooperation required to end a stalemate that has hurt our state, our university and our students. Their actions signal that they appreciate the important role of public higher education in building a prosperous future for Illinois. In particular, I want to thank Rep. Bob Pritchard for his support of the relevant legislation.
For NIU, the spending bill provides:
The receipt of these funds will positively impact NIU’s cash position and alleviate stress on new and returning students who rely on MAP grants, allowing them to focus on their educational goals.
Even though we are grateful for the clarity and security provided by this latest action, it does not alter the fact that we have absorbed a funding shortfall of more than $65 million over the last three years. We must continue the work to enhance the financial stability of NIU by increasing enrollment, becoming more efficient and aligning our resources with our priorities. There will be some difficult decisions ahead, and I pledge that we will tackle these issues together.
Guided by principles of shared governance, mutual respect and transparency in decision-making, my leadership team will seek the best ideas and thinking from everyone in the university community. We will adhere to a very simple proposition — one that I deeply believe in — that the strength of NIU comes from the bottom up and not the top down.
I eagerly anticipate working together to move NIU forward. We will proceed with a unity of purpose, acknowledging that even when we do not fully agree on the means to an end, we share core values and a commitment to the institutional mission.