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WIU postpones presidential search

Sherman Hall is the main administration building and the oldest building on the WIU Macomb campus.
Rich Egger
/
TSPR
Sherman Hall is the main administration building and the oldest building on the WIU Macomb campus.

Western Illinois University is in the market for a new president, but the search won’t begin anytime soon.

Dr. Guiyou Huang stepped down as president at the end of March. Dr. Kristi Mindrup, who had been Vice President of Quad Cities Campus Operations, has been serving as interim president.

During the Board of Trustees’ quarterly meeting on June 4, Chairperson Carin Stutz said the search has been delayed at least through the fall semester, and possibly until March, 2025.

She said Western has exhausted its reserves and must straighten out its finances.

“A search at this time distracts from the serious work that must be done now. Temporarily deferring the search is preferable to using scarce resources,” Stutz said, adding that the decision should not be interpreted as meaning that Mindrup will lead the university on a permanent basis.

However, the board did agree to have Mindrup continue serving as interim president through the end of June, 2025.

Stutz said Mindrup has provided exemplary leadership during her short time in the role.

“She took over the job with knowledge and insight embedded in her 27-year history with WIU, which has helped her get to the heart of most of our challenging issues immediately,” Stutz said.

“She is tasked with making the decisions that no one looks forward to, but she understands the magnitude and urgency of the decisions that are needed now.”

Mindrup has already started addressing the financial challenges.

In a letter to the campus community, she said, “During the past two fiscal years, Western Illinois University’s annual expenses have exceeded revenue and impacted cash flow.”

She implemented an immediate spending freeze, and suspended hiring except for the most critical positions.

Those moves will be re-evaluated in late August.

Mindrup said the factors affecting WIU’s finances include rising costs, scholarship commitments, and unfunded state and federal mandates. In addition, the confusion surrounding changes to FAFSA created uncertainty for students deciding whether to enroll.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.