I-TEAM: Perks & Admin Drive College Costs

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Decatur – Students deeply in debt with crushing fees and tuition costs.  It’s a dilemma faced by thousands of families seeking a higher education in Illinois.

The WAND News I-TEAM has found while public colleges and universities argue they need more money from the legislature they are often top heavy with administrative personnel, grant lavish contracts and perks to their presidents and in the case of one community college spent tens of thousands of dollars on meals, parties and alcohol.

The I-TEAM used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), receipts, contracts, a state senate Democratic caucus investigative report and assistance from the Edgar County Watchdogs to assemble a pair of reports broadcast on WAND.

Governor Bruce Rauner recently sat down with I-TEAM reporter Doug Wolfe and was asked why he was seeking a reduction of more than 30% in the higher education budget.

“The amount of money going to administration, bureaucracy, pensions, staff levels, that’s all got to change and I’ll work with universities to change that,” Rauner stated.  “My concern with higher education is it’s critically important but not enough of the money gets into the classroom for the students and the teachers and professors and researchers.”

A state senate investigative report found there are over 4,000 administrative positions at Illinois public colleges and universities.  More than 2,500 of those jobs are at the University of Illinois.  Compared to 312 at Southern Illinois University.

College and university presidents average about $300,000 a year according to the Illinois Senate.  Yet schools frequently pad that with lavish perks from country club members, bonuses and cell phones to car and housing allowances.

College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn receives $54 million a year in state funding and is the target of a federal investigation.  The schools Waterleaf Restaurant has been used for parties, expensive meals and liquor purchases by the college’s top administration. 

Credits granted to students in one program are also in question.  While a $763,000 severance package for the College of DuPage president is under scrutiny as well.   

(Pictured: Receipt for $3,572.40 for a holiday party at the College of DuPage)

  

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