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CHARLESTON -- Eastern Illinois University staff will be seeing a 1 percent pay raise in their salaries come July 1, according to the university president.

David Glassman announced at Friday's Board of Trustees meeting that administrative and professional staff and non-negotiated civil service employees on campus will be seeing a pay increase in the next fiscal year.

Also at the meeting, the board OK'd the biggest shakeup to Eastern's colleges and departments in 25 years.

The group of employees getting the increase has not seen a pay raise in five years, said Paul McCann, vice president for Business Affairs at EIU.

Administrative and professional staff and non-negotiated civil service employees saw the brunt of the impact of the state budget impasse on the university a couple of years ago. When the budget impasse first hit, EIU laid off nearly 200 employees, many whom were A&P staff or those with non-negotiated employment.

Glassman said knowing the state appropriated budget for the 2019 fiscal year and good financial management on Eastern's end freed up dollars to supplement these pay raises.

"I wish it was more, but I am pleased to ... thank them for the hard work that they have done," Glassman said. "Extremely deserving."

The pay increase will exclusively go to those who have been employed at EIU prior to March 1 or who have not had an adjustment in salary since March 1.

For other university employees like faculty, salaries are negotiated through unions or are set by state prevailing wage.

This new budget money will not be going toward the expansion of staff, though.

"We are not expanding anything at this point," McCann said. "This is solely to take care of the current employees."

Realignment initiative OK'd

The Board of Trustees approved numerous changes to the structure of the colleges at the university as part of the realignment initiative that was announced in April.

This cost-neutral move included:

  • Creating the College of Health and Human Services
  • Creating the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Renaming and reconfiguring the Lumpkin College of Business and Applied Sciences to the Lumpkin College of Business and Technology
  • Renaming and reconfiguring the College of Education and Professional Studies to the College of Education
  • Renaming the Center for Academic Services & Assessment to the Academic Success Center as part of the centralization of student success initiatives
  • Expanding the scope of the Office of Faculty Development and renaming it the Faculty Development and Innovation Center
  • Eliminating the Center for Academic Technology Services and reassign staff to ITS, Web Services, and the Faculty Development and Innovation Center based on their area of expertise
  • Creating a School of the Arts to be housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences comprised of the independent Music, Theater, and Art and Design departments
  • Creating a unified School of Communication & Journalism comprised of the former departments of communication studies and journalism
  • Renaming the School of Continuing Education as the School of Extended Learning. The school will be housed in the College of Education.
  • Dissolving the School of Family and Consumer Sciences to create the new Department of Human Services and Community Leadership comprised of current broad area family consumer science degrees, family studies, aging studies and related teacher education programs. Independent programs in Hospitality and Nutrition and Dietetics will be housed in the Lumpkin College and the College of Health & Human Services. Additionally, the Fashion Merchandising and Design degree program will be housed in the Department of Art and Design.

Jay Gatrell, vice president for Academic Affairs, said a couple of tweaks were made to various aspects of the realignment initiative since it was announced, including slight changes and rearrangements, but the plan by and large had not changed for any of these points.

The restructuring is a part of the university mission to streamline and eliminate redundancies across academics at EIU.

These shifts were also formulated to foster new program growth, a focus for the EIU administration in an effort to drum up more interest from prospective students.

Billy Hung, a biology professor at EIU, is hesitant about this claim. 

"I think the realignment, including the merging and the new college, will prompt people to come up with new ideas," he said. "Whether these ideas will turn into actual successful programs will depend largely on the administration's level of support. Our faculty is never in deficit of innovative ideas or lacking in enthusiasm to make things better for our students."

EIU officials have been pivoting in attempts to focus majors toward what students are wanting. And in the past year, the university has seen positive numbers in the new student populations coming in.

The restructuring will be a year-long process, one that Hung is wading through with cautious optimism. 

"I think it is the right move for EIU overall," Hung said. "However, in these situations, the details on how it is executed is going to make a huge impact on whether the end result is a positive one, or not."

He noted there is some concern among his colleagues that this will breed favoritism to new programs. 

"Some of my colleagues worry that the new programs will get the attention and resources at the expense of existing programs that may also need those attention and resources," Hung said.

"Other colleagues are skeptical whether a realignment will actually appeal to new students," he added. 

He is excited for the new College of Human and Health Services and what it might mean for the Biology department, though. 

"As they draw new students in their programs, they will need Bio courses along the way," Hung said. "I also think that some of our current Bio majors will benefit form courses from their programs, as either electives or minors." 

The direct impact is smaller for students, but still, some are applauding the shakeup. Derek Pierce, the student trustee on the board, and other student government members were excited the university was making a change.

"We were excited to see where it was going to go," he said. "We felt the current structure, as it was, seemed kind of inefficient... We thought there were a couple of duplicate programs that fit better under different headings."

That goes for the general student body as well, according to Pierce. He said student government members gathered feedback from students earlier this year, and for those who were interested, the general consensus was positive, he said.

"The biggest thing we got from students was that they were honestly just interested on how the process was going to go," Pierce said.

However, "no one seemed overly concerned" in any case, he said.

Contact Jarad Jarmon at (217) 238-6839. Follow him on Twitter: @JJarmonReporter

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