Merger, and Appoints New Treasurer; Reviews Enrollment and Confers Emeritus Status
The Governors State University Board of Trustees convened Friday, October 13, its first meeting of the academic year.
In his opening remarks, Chair Patrick Ormsby focused on the board’s unanimous August decision to extend President Maimon’s contract until June 2020, and he spoke of the university’s recent growth and upcoming semicentennial.
“The Board is pleased that President Maimon will continue her executive leadership of the university,” Ormsby said, “as GSU looks at its significant development over the past decade, its future growth, and the celebration of its 50th anniversary.”
In her report, President Maimon welcomed Dr. Paul Bylaska, Interim Vice President of Administration and Finance, and congratulated newly elected Faculty Senate President David Golland. She expressed relief at having a state budget for the fiscal year but cautioned that Illinois public universities—including GSU—are “still at an austerity level.” She thanked everyone present for their “dedication and hard work during two unprecedented years.” President Maimon also spoke about the university’s involvement with the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation devoted to growing “the number of Americans who complete high quality, affordable post-secondary education.”
President Maimon recently attended a Lumina convening in Indianapolis with two exemplary GSU students, and their presentation was well received by Lumina organizers and peers.
“[Lumina is] interested in how we connect career preparation and liberal education,” Maimon said. “They are also impressed by our four-year plan for career preparation for students in all majors.”
The board approved an FY18 operating budget, an FY19 budget request to the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), the merger of the three College of Arts and Sciences divisions into two new divisions—the Division of Arts and Letters and the Division of Science, Mathematics, and Technology—addressed this year’s enrollment numbers, and conferred Professor Emeritus status for Dr. Linda Buyer, Professor of Psychology.
FY18 Budget and FY19 Request Approved
The BOT voted to approve an operating budget for FY18. Although appropriations from the state are at a reduced level from FY15—the last budget passed in Illinois prior to the current one—the establishment of a state budget allows GSU to “develop priorities and strategies so that we can begin to address the infrastructure issues,” according to GSU President Elaine Maimon.
Additionally, the board approved a measure to submit a request for an FY19 budget to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. IBHE collects budget requests from all state institutions in October, compiles the numbers, and submits them to the state in the form of an overall higher education budget request in early February. GSU is asking for a $2.3 million increase to support innovations like the Dual Degree Program and the Center for the Junior Year and to rebuild operations and reserves depleted during the two-year budget impasse.
Decreasing Enrollment Numbers Addressed, Solutions Underway
Board members examined AY18 enrollment numbers and discussed possible causes and solutions during the recent BOT meeting. In the wake of the recent budget crisis, a decline was expected, and the GSU community is working collectively toward halting that decline and reestablishing previous enrollment numbers.
Full-time equivalent enrollment (FTE) dropped 8.6 percent, student credit hours (SCH) are down 7.8 percent, and international student enrollment dropped over 50 percent from last year—numbers similar to those across Illinois’ public higher education landscape. Marketing and outreach measures, particularly in the international arena, are being taken to address all of these changes.
BOT Appoints New Treasurer
Dr. Paul Bylaska, Interim Vice President of Administration and Finance, was unanimously approved by the board to fill the role of treasurer on the GSU Board of Trustees. Dr. Bylaska brings three decades of financial experience in higher education to this appointment. Congratulations to Dr. Bylaska.
College of Arts and Sciences Consolidates Divisions
The BOT approved a merging of divisions in the College of Arts and Sciences, a move made to increase inter- and cross-disciplinary learning in the university's largest college. Under these new divisions, students and faculty will be better able to work cohesively together with a greater sense of collaboration across units. The Division of Arts and Letters—combining the former Humanities and Social Sciences Division with Communications, Visual and Performing Arts—will be chaired by Dr. Lori Montalbano, and the Division of Science, Mathematics, and Technology will be headed by Dr. Steve Shih.
The board also approved the transfer of tenure for faculty members under these new divisions.
BOT Approves Personal Day for High-Rated Non-Negotiated Employees
Those non-negotiated GSU employees rated “generally exceeds expectations” or “superior” on their FY17 performance evaluations will receive one personal day to be taken in FY18 as appreciation for above and beyond service to the university community. This is a recurring university policy. Congratulations to all GSU staff members earning this reward and honor.