Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe has resigned to take a job at another college, only six weeks after signing a contract to remain through 2017.
The eighth chancellor in the university’s history, Furst-Bowe has led SIUE for three years, taking over for retired chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift. In May, the board of trustees approved an extension of her original contract through 2017.
In an emailed announcement to SIUE faculty and staff Monday afternoon, Furst-Bowe announced she will become the vice president of instruction at Chippewa Valley Technical college in Wisconsin. Her resignation is effective Aug. 14.
“I greatly appreciated the opportunity to lead SIUE during the past three years,” Furst-Bowe said. “I want to thank SIUE’s senior leadership team, the faculty, staff and students for a rewarding experience. I have received tremendous support from former president Glenn Poshard and current president Randy Dunn in moving forward initiatives to improve the university’s competitive position in the higher education marketplace.”
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Furst-Bowe’s contract extension established her salary at $302,500 a year, which placed her as the lowest-paid university chancellor in the state. As chancellor, she focused on development of online learning and greater opportunities for international learning, partnerships overseas and international student enrollment.
“I have enjoyed working with Dr. Furst-Bowe,” said SIU President Randy Dunn. “She made numerous contributions to the Edwardsville campus during her tenure. We wish her the best in her future endeavors.” He said Furst-Bowe has had a number of accomplishments as leader of the Edwardsville university.
Furst-Bowe said that while the board of trustees had approved a contract extension, the contract included a clause allowing either party to terminate.
Dunn said he did not anticipate any issues with releasing Furst-Bowe from her contract. “I know she is excited about returning home to Wisconsin, and all of us across the SIU system wish her the best in her future endeavors,” he said.
In her message to the faculty and staff, Furst-Bowe said the location of the Chippewa Valley campuses would allow her to be close to her hometown. The five campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls, serving an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin.
“Joining the leadership team at CVTC is a perfect opportunity for me to return home to my roots in Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley,” Furst-Bowe said. “CVTC has always been an area leader in quality career and technical education.”
Furst-Bowe wrote to the faculty and staff that she appreciated their efforts during her tenure.
“Together we have worked to achieve growth and success in many areas,” she said. “Your dedication to our students is visible every day, and SIUE is positioned very well for the future, despite the current financial challenges.”
Dunn had addressed those challenges in an unrelated statement made earlier in the day, reassuring employees that even if state government shuts down in July as many predict, the campus will keep going.
The proposed budget vetoed last week by Gov. Bruce Rauner included an 8.75 percent cut in funding for state universities, which Dunn said was smaller than the original 31.5 percent proposal, but “still harmful to our ongoing operations.”
He said even if the legislature and the governor agree on a budget, it’s still possible that Rauner would simply choose not to send the money to the universities, even if they were appropriated by the legislature.
But Dunn reassured employees that they have identified sufficient cash resources to keep the SIU college campuses operating “well through the fall semester,” and employees would be paid on time. However, employees who are paid through grants or state contracts will not have the same guarantee, he said.
Furst-Bowe said her decision to accept a new job was primarily for personal reasons: her husband still works in Wisconsin, and her parents are there, so she will be able to be near her family. Her doctorate and background was in career and technical education, she said.
However, Furst-Bowe said the ongoing state budget and pension challenges “definitely entered into the decision.”
She recently testified before the state Senate Appropriations Committee that the proposed cut in state appropriations for public universities would require a tuition increase of 112 percent, if enacted, and reduce the university to its funding levels of 1986. It would eliminate entirely the funding for the School of Pharmacy, one of the more popular and competitive programs on campus, she told the committee.
“SIUE has had to deal with budget reductions and implement numerous cost savings measures every year that I have been on campus,” Furst-Bowe said. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is going to be any relief in the near future.”
Dunn said the board is scheduled to meet in a few weeks and will use that opportunity to discuss transition plans for SIUE. He anticipates naming an interim chancellor as soon as possible before a search begins for the ninth chancellor of SIUE.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2507.