- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The University of Illinois at Springfield is holding back on the groundbreaking of a new student union because of the state’s troubled budget, according to school officials.

The 50,000-square-foot student union eventually will be built, said Susan Koch, the school’s chancellor. But proposed cuts to higher education funding have caused university officials to be more cautious, especially in terms of construction, she said.

In his current budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling for a 31.5 percent across-the-board cut in funding for higher education.

Because of the looming budget cuts, the school’s administration asked for the tentatively-scheduled groundbreaking in May to be postponed to a later time, Koch told the State Journal-Register (https://bit.ly/1FPQFB1 ). She said she now hopes groundbreaking can take place this fall so the building can open in the spring or summer of 2017.

“We consider it an essential element to our growth strategy,” Koch said. “Having a Student Union will help attract more students and at the same time enhance campus life for everyone.”

Student fees and private donations will cover most of the building’s nearly $21.8 million cost.

Construction bids will be sought after the University of Illinois at Springfield goes back to the board of trustees for final approval, which likely will happen in July or September, according to Koch.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, https://www.sj-r.com

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