University of Illinois

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Officials at the University of Illinois say they are willing to work to retain faculty who opted to retire early as a result of mistakes in the state's pension overhaul.

It was a small typo, but it turned out to have big consequences for the state's public universities and community colleges.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  The teaching career of former radical James Kilgore remains in doubt. He says one of his contracts with the University of Illinois expires Thursday. But the Board of Trustees ended a meeting Wednesday without taking action on his case.

Kilgore was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a group best known for kidnapping Patty Hearst in 1974. He was convicted of murder for his role in a bank robbery the group carried out the next year.

UIS.edu

The board of the State Universities Retirement System has voted to accept an interpretation of last year's Illinois pension reform law that says it won't inadvertently cut university retirees' pension.  

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, (http://bit.ly/RvIgwf) the board's executive committee voted unanimously on Thursday in Chicago to follow other state pension systems and accept the interpretation of the 2013 law.  

uis.edu

The State Universities Retirement System now says a troublesome piece of last year's state pension-reform law may not cut retirees' pensions after all.  

William Mabe is the executive director of the retirement system. He tells The (Champaign) News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/QfeCu8 ) that the language in law that would cost retirees' a year of pension should be interpreted as if it didn't _ because it wasn't intended to.  
That's based on the interpretation the Teachers Retirement System has been using when it looks at the law. Now SURS plans to follow suit.  

Univ. of Ill.

University of Illinois officials have worried for months that state pension reforms will push employees to retire early. But they say language inadvertently placed in pension law may provide even stronger
incentive.
 
Avijit Ghosh is a senior adviser to university President Robert Easter. He said at a trustees' meeting Friday that the pension law passed last year would effectively take away a year of pension benefits from about 4,000 University of Illinois employees if they don't retire before July 1. Those pensions would be reduced by up to 35 percent.
 

IGPA

Illinois is like most states when it comes to budget challenges.  Leaders must decide how to use tax dollars to pay for a variety of services. 

But Illinois ranks low when it comes to financial planning.  Nancy Hudspeth says some changes are needed.  She's the Associate Director of the Fiscal Futures Project at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. 

Hudspeth wrote an article on the subject that appears below:

 

Better fiscal planning tools could improve Illinois’ budget process

IGPA

When Illinois lawmakers are in need of more revenue, they often turn to sin.  

Sin taxes, that is. 

Those are taxes placed on items that can be considered undesirable, like cigarettes, alcohol or gambling.  

The Republican contenders for governor are facing questions about their roles in a five-year-old admissions scandal at the University of Illinois.  

The scandal involved some politicians using clout to get students enrolled. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and state Sen. Kirk Dillard have acknowledged their names are on the list the University of Illinois maintained of lawmakers who called to check on applications. They were asked about it at a televised debate last week.  

igpa

When it comes to finances, the State of Illinois has a poor reputation.   New research shows how the state's negative perception is costing taxpayers. 

Illinois already has the worst credit rating among states.  And while that adds to the cost of borrowing money, Illinois winds up paying even more because investors view it as risky of default.

The University of Illinois hopes to have a new president selected by January.  

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports a 19-member search committee will be appointed in May to recruit and review candidates to replace President Robert Easter.  

Amanda Vinicky

A fifth lawsuit has been filed by state employees challenging Illinois' new pension law.  
The lawsuit from current and former employees at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and Parkland Community College was filed in Champaign County Circuit Court Thursday.  

It says the legislation passed by the General Assembly in December violates several provisions of the state constitution, which says retirement benefits should not be diminished or impaired and private property should not be ``taken or damaged for public use.''  

University of Illinois

University of Illinois trustees are expected to vote Thursday on adding coverage for sex-change operations to the health insurance plan used by many students at the flagship campus.  

Many of the Urbana-Champaign campus' more than 40,000 students use the insurance and would see costs rise by 15 percent in the proposal is approved. Undergraduates would pay $291 a semester starting next fall. That's an increase of $37.  

But university officials say most of that increase is due to the federal Affordable Care Act rather than adding sex-change coverage.  

flickr/kb35

Illinois' economic growth slowed in February and a University of Illinois economist says you can probably blame it on the weather. 

U of I

University of Illinois President Robert Easter and other administrators will consider ways to help university employees make up for some of the money they will lose when state pension reforms begin June 1.  

University trustees on Thursday directed Easter to assess the changes coming to the state pension system and options for preserving benefits that will be lost. The president is expected to make recommendations to the trustees before June. The board of trustees oversees the university's three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.  

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' pension overhaul is tied up in a court challenge.  But even if it remains law, cuts to state employees' and public school teachers' retirement benefits will not solve the state's budget problem.  That's the forecast from a report issued today by the University of Illinois' Institute for Government and Public Affairs. Amanda Vinicky spoke with the report's principle author, economist Richard Dye.

news.illinois.edu

The former director of bands at the University of Illinois has pleaded guilty to stealing musical instruments from the school and sentenced to a form of probation.  

Robert Rumbelow pleaded guilty Tuesday in Champaign County Circuit Court to one count of felony theft. According to The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1doNcdP) he was sentenced to two years of conditional discharge.  
Rumbelow declined comment through his attorney.  

U Of I Proposes Tuition Hike For Fall

Jan 13, 2014
U of I

University of Illinois Trustees have been asked to increase tuition within the rate of inflation for next academic year.

At their meeting in Chicago next week, they’ll be asked to raise it by 1.7 % on the three campuses, the same increase approved for last fall.    A Trustees committee recommended the plan Monday. 

It would raise tuition for in-state students to about $12,000 at the Urbana-Champaign campus, nearly $10,600 in Chicago and around $9,400 in Springfield.  Only incoming students would pay the higher rates.

University of Illinois

University of Illinois trustees are considering giving Athletic Director Mike Thomas a raise and a contract extension.  
Trustee James Montgomery said Thursday that under the proposal Thomas' base pay would be increased to $554,000 and extended by two years. Thomas was hired in 2011 on a five-year contract with a base salary of $475,000.  

A trustees' committee will consider the proposal Thursday in Chicago. Any changes would eventually have to be approved by the full board of trustees that governs the university.  

Visitors to the Peoria Farm Show learn about seeding cover crops in this 2013 file photo (Peter Gray/WUIS)
Peter Gray/WUIS

Midwest farmers who rely on healthy soybean harvests have one more reason to consider adding cereal rye into their crop rotation in 2014.

Research conducted in Illinois indicates certain cover crops left in the ground during the winter make the soil less vulnerable to diseases that attack the leaves and root systems of soybeans planted the following spring.

wikimedia

An 8-mm color film shot in the 1940's is offering some clues about the original color of a bronze statue that is a beloved landmark at the University of Illinois.  

The 84-year-old Alma Mater statue of a robed woman flanked by figures celebrating ``Learning'' and ``Labor'' is being restored. A heavy buildup of blue-green patina has disguised its original color for decades.  

University of Illinois, Chicago

Unionized faculty members at the University of Illinois at Chicago have authorized a strike, even as contract negotiations continue.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that despite the vote, no strike is imminent.  

UIC United Faculty represents about 800 educators who've been negotiating with school administrators for 15 months.

Union spokesman John Shuler says the group is hoping to avoid a strike. He says the two sides are continuing to work with a federal mediator to approve a new four-year contract. Meetings are scheduled to take place through early January.  

Illinois has confirmed that football coach Tim Beckman will be back for a third season in 2014.
 
Athletic Director Mike Thomas said Monday through a spokesman that Beckman will return. Thomas and Beckman plan to talk later this week about the football staff and other aspects of the program.
 
Speculation about Beckman's job security followed him through much of the 4-8 season that ended with Saturday's 37-34 loss to Northwestern.
 
Some fans called for Beckman's ouster after his first season at Illinois. The Illini went 2-10.
 

fightingillini.com

Authorities say University of Illinois football staff member and former player Matt Sinclair has been charged after allegedly pointing an unloaded handgun at a vehicle carrying other staff members.
 
Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz says Sinclair was arraigned Monday on two felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon. He was arrested Saturday after Illinois' game at Purdue.
 
Rietz says someone called police to report a driver pointing a gun out of a truck on Interstate 74 in eastern Illinois. Police say Sinclair said he pointed the gun as a joke.
 

Tenured Professor Removed At U Of I

Nov 14, 2013
University of Illinois

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees dismissed an engineering professor who had a 50-year career at the state's flagship school Thursday.  Administrators say it's the first time a tenure decision went to the board. 

Louis Wozniak was charged with harassing a student, improperly obtaining and publishing grades and sending an email to students that included a sexual reference. He apologized for that email the next day, though has claimed he did nothing wrong.

Wozniak was suspended with pay from his $85,000-a-year job in 2010 after the email. 

U Of I To Open China Office

Nov 1, 2013
University of Illinois

The University of Illinois plans to open an office in China later this year.
 
Pradeep Khanna is associate chancellor for corporate international relations at
the school. Khanna tells The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1ahCsrT) that the
university plans to hire up to three employees for the new office in Shanghai.
 
A delegation of University of Illinois alumni is traveling to Beijing and
Shanghai next week. The group of about 50 people will meet with alumni and visit
companies and universities that have partnerships with UI.
 

U of I Faculty Without Tenure Want More Security

Oct 7, 2013
illinois.edu

The growing number of professors at the University of Illinois who don't have tenure want somebody besides their students to listen to them.
 
The Champaign News-Gazette reports adjunct faculty, instructors, lecturers and others who don't have tenure are hoping the school will take steps that would give them more job stability. Some are even assessing the need for a faculty union in Urbana.
 

Police in Urbana say a University of Illinois student has been killed in her apartment a few blocks north of the campus.

Lt. Bryant Seraphin tells The (Champaign) News-Gazette that officers were called shortly after 11 a.m. to the apartment complex. The university police issued alerts to students and faculty, but the campus was not locked down.

Seraphin says the victim's roommate was in the apartment during the killing and had been bound. He says she broke free and ran into the building's courtyard where she met officers.

UIS And Other Schools See Larger Freshman Classes

Sep 12, 2013
uis.edu

Many of Illinois' public universities are welcoming larger freshmen classes to their campuses this fall.  
Experts warn not to read too much into the increases. But many of the schools say higher numbers could mean that everything from the University of Illinois' strong science and math programs to efforts working to draw more students to smaller schools such as Eastern Illinois University.  
Blair Lord is provost at EIU. The Charleston school's freshman enrollment went up for the first time in four years to 1,254.  

U Of I President Gets Pay Raise

Sep 12, 2013
University of Illinois

The University of Illinois is giving President Bob Easter a $90,000 bonus and a pay raise.  
University trustees approved the bonus and raise for Easter at their regular board meeting Thursday in Urbana.  
The bonus is part of a new incentive-based compensation plan for Easter. The bonus was based on the three-campus university system reaching set goals for cost reduction, enrollment and other factors under Easter.  
Easter's base pay will increase 2.75 percent to $462,375. Most university employees are getting 2.75 percent raises.  

U of I President Wants Annual Raises For Employees

Aug 23, 2013

The president of the University of Illinois says he hopes faculty and staff members will be able to get a raise next year.  
Bob Easter made his comments Thursday ahead of the start of the school year, which kicks off Monday.  
The Champaign News-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/152WQuj ) Easter spoke during a meeting with faculty from the school's three campuses. He says it's his ``goal to have a salary program next year.''  
Many U of I employees got a 2.75 percent merit-based raise this year.  

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