CHICAGO (CBS) — With state funding cut off due to the ongoing budget impasse, Chicago State University has announced all 900 employees, including the university president, are receiving layoff notices.
CSU President Thomas Calhoun Jr. said the university has reached a point where it can’t continue to function as it has since the school year began last fall, so layoff notices have been sent to all faculty, staff, and administrators.
“We have the legal responsibility to communicate to our employees that, should our statehouse fail to fund us, and put us in a position where we have to be compromised, we would need to have the flexibility and the legal position such that a reduction in force could take place,” he said.
Chicago State and the other eight public universities in Illinois have not received any state funding for the past eight months, as Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois lawmakers have yet to agree on a budget for the current fiscal year. About 30 percent of the CSU’s funding comes from the state.
CSU did not say when the layoffs would take effect, but by law, the university’s employees must receive two months’ notice of any potential layoffs.
Calhoun declined to estimate how many employees would be laid off, but said the school is working on various contingency plans, and emphasized the university will not close. He said the university will remain open, even if it has to do so “in a pared down and different configuration.
Earlier this week, the university canceled spring break, and moved up the end of the spring semester from May 15 to April 30, so the school could save money and remain fully operational through the end of the semester. Calhoun said all eligible students would receive proper academic credit and respective degrees.
The university said it is taking steps to make sure the campus will be open for summer classes.
Approximately 4,000 students are currently enrolled at CSU.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has accused the university of “throwing money down the toilet,” and recently vetoed legislation that would have authorized spending $721 million for community colleges and college scholarships, because it didn’t come with revenue to pay for it.
Calhoun criticized the governor, saying he should realize universities like Chicago state are the engine that drive the state’s economy, and that no business will want to come to Illinois if they aren’t confident the state has a skilled and educated workforce.
“It is baffling to most of us who think deeply about this that, on the one hand, our governor will talk about bringing jobs back to the state, attracting industry to the state, attracting the kinds of investments in our state, while at the same time cutting the very opportunity to provide a highly-skilled workforce. It just doesn’t make any sense,” Calhoun said.
Despite the drastic and distressing move Chicago State made on Friday, Calhoun called on the CSU communty to remain positive, work hard, and concentrate on delivering on the promise of a high quality education.