- Higher Learning Commission President Barbara Gellman-Danley wrote to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and state legislators last week, warning them that their budget standoff could put the accreditation of public colleges and universities at risk.
- The News-Gazette reports that the regional accrediting agency also wrote to all state schools, asking for information about financial challenges; the impact they may have on textbooks, curriculum materials, and other resources; staffing changes that will affect classes over the next two semesters; and enrollment projections.
- Gellman-Danley warned schools that if they were at risk of closing, they will have to make arrangements for their students to be able to continue their programs elsewhere, and told legislators that the loss of accreditation could doom public schools across the state.
Rauner is refusing to give in to the demands of the Democratically controlled state legislature and vice-versa, continuing a budget process that was supposed to be resolved last June. The state’s colleges and universities have been forced to continue operations without any payments from the state.
While the University of Illinois’ three campuses have had enough cash to work with and continue operations, Eastern Illinois University announced it would lay off 200 non-instructional employees and consider furloughs in the coming months. Chicago State University declared financial exigency after saying it would not last beyond March 1 without state funding. Its leaders plan to remain open through the end of the semester but acknowledged deep cuts in service, which, according to the Higher Learning Commission’s letter, could put it at risk of losing its accreditation. Northeastern Illinois University, too, has said it will not be able to stay open beyond the spring semester without funding from the state.