Higher Education

U of I Graduate Workers Strike Hinges On Tuition Waivers

Mar 7, 2018

Hundreds of classes have been canceled and dozens more relocated as a strike by graduate employees at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign continues into a second week. On Tuesday night, graduate workers occupied the office of university president Tim Killeen. Strikers have a variety of demands, but one of the most contentious points focuses on the future of tuition waivers — and whether some graduate workers will have to pay tuition while employed in academic positions on campus.

Wednesday marked day three of the graduate workers strike at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Gus Wood, co-president of the Graduate Employee Organization, or GEO, says the strike is gaining momentum and numbers.

U of I Logo
University of Illinois

The union representing graduate employees at the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus is going on strike.

A panel of state senators today heard budget requests from agencies representing colleges and universities, and lawmakers took the opportunity to ask why neighboring states are able to lure so many Illinois students away.


The answer is pretty simple: Other Big 10 schools offer financial considerations that Illinois' flagship campus can't match.

SIU's System CEO says Governor Bruce Rauner's proposal to shift pension and health insurance costs to universities still needs some clarification.
President Randy Dunn says the Governor's call to shift employee pension and health insurance costs from the state to universities is not insignificant. But he says the financial blow will be easier to absorb with the replacement funds Rauner included in the spending plan for next year.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU President Randy Dunn about the effects of the first year of the Trump Administration.

Southeast Missouri State University is eliminating some jobs.

University President Carlos Vargas Tuesday announced the need to eliminate 35 to 40 vacant and currently filled staff positions over the next five months due to a nine percent reduction in state appropriations for FY18.

Teachers and some staff at Western Illinois University will begin the new year without a new contract.  They're in mediation with the administration and are working under terms of the previous contract, which expired over the summer.

While the sometimes heated discussion about an academic reorganization proposal continues at SIU-Carbondale, Southeast Missouri State University is moving ahead with its own restructuring plan.

The Cape Girardeau School's Board of Regents approved academic department restructurings Friday on a smaller scale.

The Northern Illinois University student newspaper will begin receiving student fees in order to save the student-operated Northern Star. According to an editorial published this week, the newspaper received student fees prior to 1996 but opted out due to its financial position at that time.

The $600,000 severance agreement with former President Doug Baker was approved again Thursday morning by the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees.

The re-vote came as the result of a lawsuit brought by DeKalb resident Misty Haji-Sheikh, who contended the trustees didn’t give the Presidential Transition Agreement proper public notice the first time in violation of the Open Meetings Act. A DeKalb County Circuit Court judge agreed and declared the original approval null and void.

Brad Palmer, WSIU Radio

Governor Bruce Rauner joined Japan's Consul General to the Midwest at Rend Lake College for a workforce and education roundtable.

They were joined Wednesday by educational leaders, employers and economic development officials from southern Illinois.

When Al Bowman was president of Illinois State University, he liked the freedom and flexibility that he had to run his campus. Now that tables have turned.

Twitter/College Democrats of IL

A member of the Illini Democrats opened the candidates forum Monday night, with a line sure to please the party faithful:

Illinois' public colleges and universities have weathered the two year budget impasse and are once again expecting routine state aid payments. As the schools look ahead, they're working to secure their financial footing and publicly rebound from the ordeal.

Al Bowman, a former president of Illinois State University, has been tapped to lead the Illinois Board of Higher Education. His appointment comes as higher education institutions have seen their budgets slashed and enrollment decline, so it’s hard to know whether to congratulate him.

“You know, I’ve been getting that from people,” Bowman laughs.

He is going into his new job eyes wide open. Illinois ranked number two in the nation for net loss of college students.


SIU President Randy Dunn says there are challenges ahead – but he has big plans for the system.

Chapin Rose, the Republican state senator from Mahoment, says he's filing a measure designed to launch major changes in higher education.

The WIU administration blames the uncertainty caused by the two year state budget impasse for this year's drop in enrollment.

Eastern Illinois Univeristy logo

Eastern Illinois University data show that enrollment for the fall semester is down by about 5 percent but it's the school's lowest decline from fall-to-fall in six years.

The college year has started again, and for many students, that means anxiety over debt is here again, too.

The Institute for College Access and Success found the class of 2015 in Illinois graduated with an average debt of 26-thousand-dollars.

Kiera Ellis

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth says further investment in higher education could mean big things for innovation and growth in the future.

The new state budget will fund Illinois colleges and universities at the level of funding they received in 2015 … minus 10 percent. But there’s one area of higher education that got a boost.

Illinois has tapped nearly $700 million in existing funds to make the first payment to colleges and universities they've received in seven months.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced the payment Thursday.

A DeKalb County Board member is suing the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees over President Doug Baker’s severance package.

Higher Education and money

The state's budget impasse may soon affect more than just overall funding for higher education.

State spending on public higher education in Illinois has dropped precipitously during the past two years as the state has operated without a budget.  But the president of Western Illinois University said the school will not allow itself to be bogged down by the budget stalemate.

Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker will step down on June 30, the end of the current academic year. 

He made the announcement at the beginning of the NIU Board of Trustees meeting, which had scheduled a closed session on its agenda to review “Presidential Employment.”  After a marathon closed session, Trustees emerged to announce their transition plan. Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman will serve as interim president, but will not pursue the position permanently. On July 1st, Freeman becomes NIU's first female president.

The Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs says the state is reducing fees and giving more investment choices to people saving money for college in the state's 529 college savings plans.

Northeastern Illinois University will lay off workers to cope with an Illinois budget impasse that has reduced state funding.

The university announced Tuesday it will eliminate about 180 full-time jobs in the coming weeks.