Reminder: Budget Update Open Forums, Aug. 24/25

Please attend one of the two open forums scheduled this week, Wednesday, August 24 at 9:00 a.m. and Thursday, August 25 at 2:00 p.m. in the Trustees Room, Alumni Hall.

Teresa’s message from July 18, 2016

Dear Friends,

Since this spring, members of the President’s Council have worked on a number of issues that are at the forefront of discussions both here on campus and at colleges and universities around the country, namely:

Revised regulations on overtime from the Department of Labor (DOL);

Funding of Illinois MAP Grants;

Status of the fall enrollment.

I’m writing today to provide an update to the Knox community on these issues since each will have an impact on our community in the coming year. I’d also like to invite you to an open forum in August to learn more about these issues and the College’s response.

As we shared with you earlier in May, the DOL revised the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime standards. The primary emphasis of the revisions was to adjust the salary threshold at which an employee may be considered exempt from overtime requirements. The College leadership has consulted with various internal and external groups to determine how this change applies to and affects Knox hourly and salaried staff, with the goal of maintaining consistency and equity across departments. While we have not made final decisions regarding the new federal standards, each member of the President’s Council is working within their areas to determine how many staff members will be affected, consulting with individual managers and employees, and providing recommendations on how to approach each individual position.

In addition, on June 30, Governor Rauner signed a stop-gap budget that included a provision to fund the remainder of the MAP Grants promised to students for 2016. This is a huge relief for our students and for the College. Unfortunately, the stop-gap budget did not include funding for next year’s (FY17) MAP Grants, and we will continue to work with our representatives in Springfield, encouraging them to meet their obligations to our students. We hope that you will join us in this continued effort.

Knox is definitely not alone in facing fiscal uncertainty tied directly to the State’s political and budgetary stalemate. We also are not alone in facing a challenging year on the enrollment front. Thanks to the hard work of Admission and other supporting areas, we have been fortunate to have grown our application pool and welcomed strong incoming classes over the last four years. But, like many other liberal arts colleges around the country, especially in the Midwest, we are seeing the results of strong regional and national competition for incoming classes this year. We currently expect a smaller enrollment in the fall.

The College’s annual operating budget, which is already facing a $2.3 million deficit, will be significantly affected by the changes to federal labor laws, potentially unfunded MAP Grants, and a smaller enrollment. I assure you that the President’s Council will continue to devote much of its time this summer, working closely with the Staff Council and the Institutional Planning and Priorities Council, to address these budgetary challenges.

In order to provide members of our community with opportunities to learn more about these important issues, we have scheduled two open forums in early August to discuss these issues. Please mark your calendars to attend one of the following forums in the Trustees Room of Alumni Hall:

Wednesday, August 24, 9:00 a.m.

Thursday, August 25, 2:00 p.m.

We’ll provide more details on these issues and the budget at the forums and will allot time for your questions. We encourage all members of the Knox community, faculty and staff alike, to join us for these important discussions and request that supervisors work within their areas to make this possible.

While the specific issues addressed in this email may be unique to this year, the need for careful, collaborative attention to our resources is not. We, as a community, must come together as we have in the past to address our ongoing budget challenges. I know that many of you have faced these challenges multiple times in the past, and I truly appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to address our structural deficit. Knox has persevered for nearly 180 years thanks to the dedication and innovation of its faculty and staff, and I have full faith and confidence that we will, together, face our current challenges with that same dedication and innovation.

I encourage each of you to attend one of the upcoming forums, and, as always, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have regarding matters important for Knox’s future.