Southern Illinois University-Carbondale’s (SIUC) staff salaries and pensioner benefits perfectly exemplify the factors contributing to the state’s higher education crisis and rising tuition costs, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.
While SIU System President Randy Dunn attributes challenges faced by the state’s public institutions to the ongoing budget impasse, Ted Dabrowski, the institute's vice president of policy, and policy analyst John Klingner point to inherent flaws in the university system.
More than half of Illinois’ university administrators earn $100,000 or more from their base salary alone, with many receiving bonuses. In fiscal year 2014, SIUC paid then-Chancellor Rita Cheng a base salary of $354,965, but with additional compensation and retirement enhancement her total compensation jumped to $402,863.
Former Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Rita Cheng | http://chancellor.siu.edu/hall-of-chancellors/cheng.php
Retired SIUC workers are also putting significant strains on higher education funding, with retirement costs now accounting for 53 percent of state funds. As an example, Dabrowski and Klingner pointed to the pension benefits of several average state university workers, including one from SIUC. With a current annual pension of $71,546 and an annual cost of living adjustment of 3 percent, the pensioner's total lifetime payout would exceed $3 million, they said.
These challenges lead to startling tuition increases, such as the 92 percent increase in the average cost of tuition and fees at SIUC between 2006 and 2016.