University of Illinois trustees voted Thursday to raise tuition for new students by 9.5 percent and approved a contract that pays the school's incoming president approximately $620,000 a year — about $170,000 more than the man he'll replace.
The decision to increase tuition as trustees were also agreeing to a hefty pay package for incoming President Michael Hogan prompted harsh criticism from protesters who marched outside the meeting, including state Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Chicago Democrat.
But both trustees and interim President Stanley Ikenberry said the decisions were justified.
Ikenberry touted Hogan's "superb academic credentials" and said his salary will put him in the middle of the pack among Big Ten presidents — the range is from $442,000 at Wisconsin to $1.58 million at Ohio State.
"We should all applaud the fact that we've got somebody who's got that strong track record," board chairman Chris Kennedy said after the hourslong meeting where there was little discussion on either issue.
The tuition increase follows moves the university has already taken, such as requiring many employees to take unpaid furlough days to hiring freezes, Ikenberry said.
Ikenberry and others also said the economic crisis, in which the state is now $375 million behind in its payments to the University of Illinois, left them with no choice.
"We have taken steps over the course of the last year and will be taking steps to make sure students aren't caught in the middle and (carrying) the full burden of our financial strains and stresses," he said.
For instance, the university agreed to buyouts this year with more than 600 employees and is trying to cut costs through department consolidations, among other measures, he said.
With the vote, tuition for students starting school this fall at the University of Illinois' flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign will increase to $10,386 a year. In Chicago, the figure will be $9,134, and $8,108.50 in Springfield. Only new students will be affected because Illinois guarantees students at public universities the same tuition for four years.
But critics said they were angry that even as the trustees were emphasizing the school's dire finances, they were still approving a high salary for Hogan, who resigned as the University of Connecticut's president last week. He starts at Illinois in July.
"People are having difficulty paying their mortgages, putting food on their tables, sending their kids to school," said Sandoval. "It's insulting on the day that the university of Illinois is voting to raise tuition on the backs of working people in Illinois by almost 10 percent, they are going to give a salary increase to the new president,"
Sandoval pointed out that Hogan will be making more than Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Gov. Pat Quinn or President Barack Obama.
"What country is President Hogan going to govern?" Sandoval asked.
Ikenberry defended the salary, noting Hogan's experience working with a major university hospital at the University of Connecticut like the one that he'll be responsible for at the University of Illinois.
Hogan is a former history professor who also served in leadership positions at the University of Iowa and Ohio State University. He will be taking over a university system with more than 70,000 students at a critical time.
He will replace B. Joseph White, who resigned last year after news reports about and a state probe of the influence political connections have on admissions at the school. White was paid $450,000 a year.
Illinois' financial situation tops Hogan's list of priorities. The state government has a $13 billion budget deficit and is behind on payments to public universities, and has yet to set a budget for next year.
The decision to raise tuition was expected; most public universities raise tuition in most years, and Ikenberry has warned for months that a big increase was coming. But the size dwarfs last year's 2.6 percent bump.
However, it's also bigger than many other in-state schools. Eastern Illinois is raising its tuition by 6.2 percent, while Southern Illinois is taking the unusual step of freezing tuition. Outside Illinois, Ohio State will raise tuition by 7 percent next fall.
Ikenberry, though, noted that the University of Illinois plans to increase the supplemental financial aid it provides next year, from this fiscal year's $35.8 million to $42.3 million.
Associated Press Writer David Mercer in Champaign, Ill., contributed to this report.