Governors State University President Calls for State Funding on "Chicago Tonight"
Governors State University President Elaine P. Maimon made her third appearance since October on the PBS program “Chicago Tonight” on January 12 to once again talk about the state’s budget impasse, now entering its 7th month. She appeared first on the show in October and again in November.
President Maimon was joined on the panel by Northeastern Illinois President Sharon Hahs and Justin Smith, a sophomore in the College of Business at GSU, who was there to represent the people state universities serve—its students. During the program Smith explained he wouldn’t be able to attend college without the assistance of federal and state grants which do not need to be repaid. The Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) provides grants to Illinois residents who demonstrate financial need.
Without a state budget, funds for the MAP grants have not been appropriated and, therefore, not disbursed. 1,941GSU students are MAP recipients. President Maimon said that GSU has fronted its students $3 million in MAP grants since the start of the Fall 2015 semester, continuing into the Spring 2016 semester. “We are trying to be good citizens by fronting the MAP grants for students to stay in school. But we are running on fumes, using reserve money that should be used for repairs to the university,” she said.
For Smith, the youngest of 12 children, the MAP grant is a lifeline that allows him to attend college. The money covered by GSU will allow Smith and other affected students to continue attending classes this spring. “GSU has taken care of me and has taken a little of the stress off my mind by fronting the MAP money,” he said.
Maimon said college students like Smith are an investment in the state’s future. “Even in bad times, businesses don’t throw away good investments. Students like Justin are a great investment for the State of Illinois.”
Maimon urged state government leaders to pass a budget and live up to its commitment to students. “The state made a promise with the MAP grants. We will front the money this spring, but we’re called state universities because we are funded by the state. I’m hopeful we will see a resolution soon, but at the same time we are asking for immediate funds for our operating budget and to cover MAP. It has to be both.”
When asked by Chicago Tonight reporter Eddie Arruza whether the budget impasse was the most challenging problem she has faced as GSU president, Maimon was definitive. “I’ve had many challenges, but nothing like this. It is imperative that this promise be fulfilled and very soon. I think that we, in trying to protect the students, have not been as direct as we should be as to what a crisis this is. We’re doing it right now. There has been some sense that since the universities are open and students are going to class, there isn’t a crisis. There is a crisis,” she said.
“Even in bad times, businesses don’t throw away good investments. Students like Justin are a great investment for the State of Illinois.”