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Faculty Reaction to Furloughs at University of Illinois

January 15, 2010

Reduce costs before implementing furloughs

Posted: January 14th, 2010 – 10:35 PM

Updated: January 14th, 2010 – 10:35 PM

Before we implement a furlough policy that will cause considerable hardship, we should reduce the costs of activities outside the research and teaching missions of the university. We continue to increase administrative positions, for example, often at high salaries, even as cuts undermine these missions.

How can we implement a fair furlough policy if it comes to that? First, acknowledge that these are substantial wage cuts following several years with tiny or no raises. We have fallen further and further behind and now wages— along with travel, research, and other funds— are being reduced. Cuts in academic units continue to reduce the quality of undergraduate and graduate education.

Second, acknowledge the vast salary gaps between faculty and the proliferating number of highly paid administrators. The university’s plan to exempt workers earning less than $30,000 (164 people) and assess a small number of top administrators (24) a higher number of furlough days is a meager effort. If the number of impacted administrators were increased, it would be possible to exempt a greater number of the lowest paid.

This crisis draws our attention to some misplaced priorities and a conversation that is long overdue. We should reduce our bloated administration and the charity we practice toward private corporations in the Research Park. We cannot afford the costly corporate policies implemented over the past decade. The human costs could be reduced if we invested our limited resources where they are needed most – in teaching and basic research, not huge administrative salaries and support for private corporations.

James Barrett,

Professor of history

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