NEIU announces layoffs due to state budget impasse

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Facing a financial crisis, Northeastern Illinois University announced they are laying off almost 200 employees as the schools faces a large deficit in the fall because of the state budget standoff.

The 180 layoffs will be to the administrative and civil service staff.

"We have no intention of closing. And we will continue to manage this crisis as best we can going forward," said NEIU President Richard Helldobler.

It's been a touch-and-go two years for NEIU. As the budget impasse continues in Springfield, the school has seen its funding slashed by 40 percent. Furloughs have helped, but not enough. With next to no money left in reserve and a $10 million shortfall to cover, they university announced it will cut 180 jobs over the next couple of months.

"This drastic measure that we're taking now gets us 'til fall tuition dollars come in, and that will sustain us through the fall semester," Helldobler said.

In an attempt to minimize the impact on students the layoffs will come from the administrative and civil services departments, but the faculty was quick to point out they will be affected.

"I can't imagine our department without a department secretary," said Prof. Sophia Mihic. "Just on a day to day basis, when a student is in trouble she knows where to send them. For me, she makes sure I have everything together and that I get into the classroom."

Nearly 10,000 students depend on NEIU for their education. Many are low-income or the first generation in their families to go to college. Student aide Amsa Gryasuddin is among those who worry about what the future will bring.

"I do get put on furloughs. They actually just paused our furloughs or else today would have been a furlough day for me," Gryasuddin said.

"It's scary because you don't want to see your staff leave. It's scary because you're like, 'Are we going to close like Chicago State?'" said Ashlei Ross, NEIU student body president.

The layoffs can be averted, university officials said, if a budget compromise is reached, or even a stopgap budget measure. University officials are prepared to pause any layoff plans if the state provides them funding.
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