Originally published on Jan. 15, 2015

Incoming Illinois freshmen at the University of Illinois in fall 2015 will get a break — the school’s first tuition freeze since the 1993-94 school year, following the board of trustees’ approval at its regular meeting Thursday, citing the need for greater affordability.

The freeze will follow the freshman class of Illinois residents throughout its four years at the university, but the freeze will not automatically be renewed in ensuing years, said university spokesman Tom Hardy.

Tuition for out-of-state freshmen and new international students in Fall 2015 will increase by 2 percent in what university officials say is a necessary measure to keep up with inflation.

Non-residents will pay $27,195 in base tuition, and international students will pay $28,025.

Future freshmen classes could face higher tuition if the state keeps cutting the higher-education budget, Hardy said. State officials have put colleges and universities on notice that Illinois’ fiscal crisis may require funding cuts as drastic as 20 percent or more.

Trustees approved the in-state freshmen tuition freeze proposal after noting that a record low of seven in 10 of the university’s 2014 freshmen lived in Illinois. That compares with eight years earlier, in Fall 2006, when about nine in 10 freshmen were from Illinois.

Tuition rates for the in-state students will be $12,036 a year at Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 at Chicago and $9,405 at Springfield.

Even with the freeze, the cost of an undergraduate diploma at U. of I. is 71 percent higher than it was 10 years ago.

Indeed, students throughout the University of Illinois system will see housing and general fees increase slightly in the 2015-2016 academic year.

The cost of housing will go up at all three campuses. The yearly housing fee will edge up by $210, or 2 percent, for standard basic double room-and-board at the Chicago campus, to $10,728 from $10,518.

It will increase by $152, or 1.5 percent, to $10,332 from $10,180 for new students at the Urbana-Champaign campus. At Urbana-Champaign the fee covers a basic double room with 12 meals and 15 cafe credits.

General fees will edge up by $15, or 0.98 percent, to $1,546 for the Chicago campus; by $17, or 1.14 percent, to $1,509 at Urbana-Champaign; and $23, or 2.34 percent, to $1,008, at the Springfield campus, primarily to cover faculty salaries and facilities improvements.

And so-called tuition “differentials” — extra fees to cover laboratories, job-placement help, higher faculty salaries and other extras that come with certain degrees — will increase throughout a range varying from $25 to $85 for five undergraduate programs at UIC. Those degrees are in engineering, nursing, kinesiology, business administration and health information management.

The board of trustees as expected also hired Timothy L. Killeen as the university’s new president.

Killeen, most recently vice chancellor for research and president of the Research Foundation of the State University of New York, becomes the university’s 20th president, succeeding Robert Easter, 65, who will retire when his contract expires July 1, 2015.

Killeen said he is “very supportive” of the tuition freeze for in-state incoming freshmen as a sign of support for families concerned about costs, and he doesn’t believe the missed revenues will hurt research at the university.

Killeen, who will make the president’s house in Urbana-Champaign his family’s main residence, said the core commitments of affordability and accessibility for families and to the university’s “excellence and integrity” and are his top priority.

He will work under a five-year contract with a base salary of $600,000, a performance bonus of up to $100,000 and at the end of the five years, a total $225,000 retention bonus, putting him at No. 7 in total compensation among Big 10 schools, Hardy said.

The top six salary earners, in order, are the presidents of Ohio State, Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan, Rutgers and Indiana.

Easter had a base salary of $478,558 and a total annual compensation of $552,375. It was lower than Killeen’s because Easter came out of retirement to fill the post and agreed to take the same salary as previous presidents Stanley Ikenberry and B. Joseph White, Hardy has said previously.

On top of his salary, Easter receives a merit-based pay raise. He got a 3.5 percent merit-based increase in September.

The university also provides its president with a car and driver, a home on the Urbana-Champaign campus and access to a fundraising foundation-owned condo on Michigan Avenue.

A 19-member search committee settled on Killeen, who has more than three decades of experience as a teacher, researcher and administrator in public higher education and in top leadership positions with national scientific research agencies.

At SUNY’s Research Foundation, Killeen was responsible for administering about $900 million annually across a statewide network of 29 state-supported research campuses.

At the University of Illinois, he will oversee the three campuses and the university’s hospital and health sciences department. The university has 78,000 students, 6,000 faculty members and a $5.6 billion operating budget.

The new president will face a host of challenges, including:

  • An ongoing loss of state funding, pressuring the school to raise tuition and grapple with fallout from the state’s budget and pension woes.
  • A union-organizing effort by faculty at the Springfield campus.
  • A proposal to build a second, independent and engineering-based college of medicine at the flagship Urbana-Champaign campus, upsetting colleagues at the Chicago campus who now control the university’s sole medical school and medical education. One goal would be for many students to gain doctoral degrees in fields such as engineering, biochemistry and computer science simultaneously with their MD degrees. At the same time, consultants have recommended that UIC reorganize its hospital, health-sciences colleges and health care services to deal with aging clinics, fierce marketplace competition, federal health care reforms and fuzzy lines of authority.

The trustees also voted to hire Michael Amiridis, provost at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, as the new UIC chancellor, succeeding Paula Allen Meares, who had been chancellor for six years and whose term expired on Wednesday. He will have a base salary of $400,000 with the potential to get up to $75,000 more a year in a performance bonus.

UIC has 28,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, and a nearly $2 billion budget. It is ranked 57th nationally in the amount of federal research funding it receives.

Until Amiridis starts his new job on March 16, the board named Eric Gislason, professor emeritus of chemistry and a veteran administrator who has spent his entire 40-year academic career at UIC, as interim chancellor.