New UI president optimistic budget cuts won't be "that bad"

CHAMPAIGN-URBANA--Monday marked the the first official day on the job for the University of Illinois's new president, Timothy Killeen.

"My shorthand is that we want to be the model of the land-grant mission into the 21st century," said Killeen.

Killeen is putting together a strategic plan for the future of Illinois' largest school system.

He's spending his first formal week meeting with students and faculty at all three campuses to hear what they say needs to happen to provide an affordable and accessible education to all.

"The reason I stress affordability and accessibility is because that was the reason why we were created in a way to provide opportunities," said Killeen. "And we can do that and we have to do that without sacrificing excellence."

The biggest threat to that excellence is the 31 percent funding cut proposed under Governor Bruce Rauner's budget, which would amount to a loss of around $209 million next year alone.

"We recognize that the financial situation does require significant work and serious contemplation," said Killeen. "But I can say that at that level, we would be damaged."
But Killeen says so far, his meetings in Springfield have been positive.

I'm optimistic it won't be anything like that bad," said Killeen.

Should the proposed budget become reality, he says the university would attempt to lower its administrative costs first before considering any cuts to teaching, research or student services.

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