CSU holds early graduation ceremony due to lack of funds

Chicago State University is cutting more jobs despite a partial payment from Springfield.

Sources tell FOX 32 News the South Side school will soon lay off 200 to 300 employees. The blow comes after a graduation ceremony that had to be held early because of the crisis.

As happy as these Chicago State students are to graduate, the State of Illinois' failure to approve a budget means the crisis is far from over for this and other state-supported universities.

“We are obviously still underfunded,” said CSU President Thomas Calhoun. “And we have to operate within our means. Our means require that we do some downsizing.”

Chicago State recently received less than 60 percent of the funds it expected from Springfield, part of a much-ballyhooed, bipartisan deal.  But sources told FOX 32 News most of that cash is already committed - primarily to vendors who provided critical services for 10 months without payment.

“Chicago State is not the only university that's experiencing these issues. It's sending the wrong message to young people that we don't care about education,” said State Senator Emil Jones.

Thursday’s graduation was about two weeks early, because Chicago State cut the spring semester short to save money. Accounting major Darius Sanders said it's irresponsible of politicians in the State Capitol to use students as hostages.

“We need the governor to do something. And we need a budget. We need our money,” Sanders said.

For now, Chicago State has enough cash to complete the summer session that starts in mid-June and to launch the fall semester in late August.

“We have students all over the gamut, who are earning degrees here and their lives are changing. And, as a result of that, our state becomes stronger,” Calhoun added.

This school and other state-supported universities warn that unless the governor and General Assembly approve a state budget soon, there may be more cuts to come.