NEIU Leadership Predicts Enrollment Decline for FY 2023 Budget

Finance officials expect a strong turnout of freshman students via the NEIU For You program


Data from NEIU FY 2023 Budget Town Hall.

Erwin Lopez Rada, News Editor



This article has been amended. In the prior version we incorrectly said that NEIU President Gloria Gibson had a position in the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE). We found out that that position belongs to another person named Gloria Gibson who works as the Chief Financial Officer of the IBHE in Springfield, Illinois.



NEIU officers predicted a 13 percent decline in credit hours representing a potential reduction of $4.9 million for the school’s next year budget in a town hall hosted at the NEIU auditorium by the end of Spring 2022.  

The projections were made by Manish Kumar, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Michael Wenz, Executive Director of University Budgets. The finance officers predicted an increase in state funding due to executive orders and bills signed into law by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and the ongoing spending reforms and strategic investments will be enough to cover for the deficit in enrollment.

NEIU’s leadership also expects strong enrollment numbers through the NEIU For You program that provides qualifying applicants a free 4-year ride in the school after federal and/or state financial aid is applied to their balances. 

Dr. Nancy Wrinkle, Chair of the Faculty Senate, asked at the end of the presentation what will be the situation if the school fails to meet its enrollment goals. Mr. Kumar answered that “If we [the school] fall short of our expected enrollment goals we can manage it, but if we fail catastrophically, then some difficult conversations are going to happen.”

President Gloria J. Gibson, who also attended the town hall, added that “we [NEIU’s leadership] are preparing for all possible scenarios of enrollment.” 

President Gibson said that they are planning for any outcome regarding enrollment but they hope NEIU will meet its planned enrollment targets, which currently are at 400 new, 899 transfer and 583 graduate students. 

Former Provost Dennis Rome said that the school is also looking for other avenues of revenue, which include renting the unused properties NEIU bought on Bryn Mawr Avenue in 2014. Kumar is confident that the Nest, for example, will help as “a recruitment and retention tool,” mostly for low-income students that also benefit from other school programs.

Kumar’s team looks confidently at the future of school finances since it has been successful at placing NEIU in a cleaner financial place. The school improved its Moody’s score by three tiers, which improves the school’s standing regarding its debt for which it services almost $1.8 million every year.




Employees Spoke Again About Low Wages and Uncovered Vacancies


Staff and faculty used the town hall to voice their concerns about the challenges they are facing with understaffing and low wages. All members of the panel said that they are facing “challenges in recruitment.” 

They argue that the challenges are due to the job market and that they are adding a new recruiter position to help fill up the vacancies. Stephen Harris, from library services, said that “hiring is at a standstill” and the “departments are starved of civil service employees.” 

Kumar agreed that civil service employees are not enough to cover for the student ratio but that supervisors need to hire strategically and not only to cover positions.  

NEIU has difficulties hiring personnel, but its issues agree with a national trend. The College and University Professional Association of Human Resources (CUPA-HR) is working on the results of a survey that shows approximately 58 percent of higher education institutions’ workforce are looking for a new job, and 75 percent of them are doing so because they want a better pay.

An online attendant asked, “how can one stay at NEIU given the low pay, no advancement opportunities and difficult climate?” to which Abby Murray, Executive Director of Human Resources, responded by saying “NEIU offers to its employees great benefits, personal enrichment opportunities with concerts and speeches of first quality and development opportunities.”

The watchdog Better Government Association (BGA) estimated $52,130 as the median salary of an NEIU employee by 2019  – numbers include staff and faculty – a better income than the offer at 77.59 percent of any other Illinois public higher education institution.

In contrast, President Gibson will make for FY 2023 approximately the same $294,000 she got in 2019 as NEIU President. The President’s office for the FY 2023 budget will receive $3,646,622  – check page 21 – of which most of the money is dedicated to pay salaries of NEIU’s executive team. President Gibson’s salary is modest compared with those of other schools Presidents. 

Still, a climate study administered two years ago, in Spring 2020, showed staff discontent. The research done by Rankin and Associates Consulting determined that  67 percent of staff  considered leaving NEIU, of which 72 percent thought so because of the low pay. 

The research also showed that 60 percent of staff felt overworked because they had to take the workload of staff departures without compensation. Faculty members numbers were also high, with almost 60 percent of them considering leaving the school because of budget uncertainty and/or low pay. 



Data from NEIU FY 2023 Budget Town Hall.