Community rallies around laid off WIU professor

WESTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY, Macomb (NEWS3) – March 1 brought layoff notices to 132 Western Illinois University employees. Of those, 29 faculty members received the notice. Marcus Büker, an associate professor of meteorology, was one of them.

“A lot of people were not expecting this,” Büker said, “Initially, I was not expecting it. The night before the layoff notices came out, something was telling me that I was going to be on the list. When I did find out, I was angry, I was sad, but I was kind of not surprised.”

However, Büker’s students said they were shocked and didn’t expect it to happen to the meteorology department.

“Dr. Büker is such an excellent teacher,” said freshman Ian Stearns, “He’s always been there supporting the students with things like Severe Weather Club and all these other activities.”

“He would give his shirt off his back for you and for anybody here on campus,” said senior Luke Saeger, “To see him get that layoff notice was very emotional for us as well.”

A peaceful protest was held by Western faculty and students before Büker’s meeting with the Interim Provost Billy Clow. Büker said he was thankful that students arrived at 8 a.m. to support him.

Director of the McDonough County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency Edgar Rodriguez was at the gathering. He stressed how important it is to have expert meteorologists like Büker in the community.

“A good example was recently in December when we had a spread of tornadoes in the area,” Rodriguez said, “I had the National Weather Service giving me information, and on the other cellphone, I had Dr. Büker giving me local information. We decided to activate the sirens here in Macomb, because of some information that Dr. Büker provided.”

Büker’s meeting with Clow was to discuss alternatives for his layoff. One alternative would be a split position with the math department.

Despite the bump in the road, Büker said he understands the university’s difficult decision.

“It’s not a battle against the evil empire here,” Büker said, “We understand that there’s financial considerations going on, and they had to cut somewhere. We love WIU, and I love teaching – that’s my calling.”