State Representative Norine K. Hammond (R-Macomb) is urging Governor Pritzker to appoint a full Board of Trustees for Western Illinois University and release emergency funds to assist WIU given the recent drastic cuts announced by President Jack Thomas last Friday. These most recent cuts were seen in the form of layoffs, with the university announcing that they were letting go of 132 employees.
“Western is struggling, as most state universities are right now, and having a full board in place would help to ensure the university’s success. I am asking Governor Pritzker to take immediate action to fill six vacant positions on the board so Western can move forward. Additionally, I am asking him to release funds in an effort to reduce the negative impact not only to the university, but our area,” said Representative Hammond. She added, “The Board of Trustees regularly scheduled quarterly meeting is set for March 28th and 29th and I am working with the administration to make sure we see more members in place by then to help protect WIU and facilitate future success.”
Among the 132 employees to receive notices were 29 faculty members, 89 civil service workers, 12 academic service personnel and two administrative employees. President Jack Thomas had the unfortunate and difficult task of announcing these losses and stated in a university-wide letter in November, “While reductions are necessary, we cannot continue to reduce our way out of these fiscal challenges. We must grow as an institution. I want to emphasize again that student recruitment and retention efforts are everyone’s responsibility.”
Representative Hammond agrees that recruitment and retention efforts are vital and she has passed legislation to do just that. She is committed to continuing the fight through this difficult time to stabilize Western and our area. Additionally, she commends all of those doing the same, specifically the students and alumni who organized the “Buy into Western” movement. She stated, “I applaud the grassroots effort of the “Buy into Western Illinois University” organizers and their efforts to prevent this loss. I, too, believe that better days lie ahead for Western.”