Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas released a statement Tuesday morning regarding Tri States Public Radio amid controversy about the station’s funding cut.
“Dear University Community,
As we have presented in numerous forums and meetings throughout the past two years with our University and community constituencies, the University has had to make difficult budget decisions. We have been asked repeatedly by employees and others what we are doing to chart the course for the future of Western Illinois University. However, when decisions are made to conserve resources, personal attacks and the spread of inaccurate information sometimes occur.
With the financial situation we are facing, we must move forward to keep the University viable. The Board has directed the administration to review all services at the institution. That is what we have done and that is what we must continue to do.
In recent news regarding Tri States Public Radio funding, there is inaccurate information circulating that the University is eliminating the station. This is not true. The station will no longer receive appropriated funding (approximately $453,000) from the institution after March 1, 2019. Station management was notified August 10 regarding the change to the station’s funding. Effective March 1, the radio station will become a self-funded department within the University structure and will be responsible for generating its revenue needs, including personnel expenditures. After March 1, the station’s financial obligations, including payroll, may be met through non-appropriated fund sources, as necessary.
The station will continue to have a home at Western Illinois University. Like WQPT, which is housed at the WIU-Quad Cities campus, Tri States Public Radio will not receive appropriated funding for its personnel expenditures. Furthermore, similar to the WQPT partnership with the University, the WIU Foundation will provide nonprofit status for Tri States Public Radio.
We do understand the value that Tri States Public Radio brings to this institution and the region, and we appreciate people’s passion for, and support of, the station. However, we must look at all areas in terms of budget. The University cannot be everything to everyone, particularly in these challenging budgetary times. Quite simply, the University cannot continue to operate as it has in the past.
Thank you for trying to understand the most difficult position in which we have been placed due to dwindling resources and the lingering effect of the statewide budget impasse. We will continue to advocate in Springfield for adequate and consistent funding for Western Illinois University and public higher education.