NORMAL — Illinois State University could save nearly $24 million over the next 25 years after the Board of Trustees approved a new set of bonds on Friday.
With the purpose of securing lower interest rates, the new auxiliary facilities systems bonds will replace existing bonds on Cardinal Court student housing and ISU’s Student Fitness Center.
In addition to debt refinancing, the new bonds will allow ISU to fully acquire Cardinal Court, which was built in 2012 through Collegiate Housing Foundation with a public-private partnership.
“In essence, we will be buying out the land leased with Collegiate Housing Foundation and taking over total control of Cardinal Court and the property on which it sits,” said ISU President Larry Dietz.
Daniel Stephens, vice president for the division of finance and planning, said the bonds will be refinanced in January when interest rates are expected to be low.
“We feel fairly confident that this is an excellent opportunity for us to lower our operating cost, and more importantly offer operational control (of Cardinal Court),” said Stephens.
By obtaining Cardinal Court, Stephens said the apartments can be included in “the entire portfolio as opposed to being separated and handled differently than others.”
The university’s 2018 operating budget was also formally approved by the board for nearly $427 million. That includes a $7 million cut in state funding.
“State appropriations account for approximately 15 percent of the total operating budget of the university,” said Dietz. “While we appreciate every dollar and support we receive, it is clear the state has not upheld its obligation to equitably support each public university and help make higher education more affordable for the residents of Illinois.”
Dietz said that while most public universities receive an average appropriation of $7,000 per student, ISU is given just over $3,500 per student.
“Based on the current appropriation funding formula, Illinois State is frankly not being treated fairly,” said Dietz.
The board approved its annual request for capital appropriation from the state for $301 million. A capital improvement request is sent each year to the state.
The project wish list includes renovation of Milner Library, construction of a new Mennonite College of Nursing building, replacement of Thomas Metcalf School and University High School, and more.
In other business, the board:
- Officially approved the contract for Dietz after a board appointment glitch delayed the vote in August. A performance bonus for Dietz of $50,000 was also approved.
- Agreed to increase a contract by $300,000 with Paciolan Inc. for athletic event ticketing. Officials said the decision was based on an “exponential increase” in overall ticket sales for ISU events, likely due to a rise in football game attendees since the remodel of Hancock Stadium in 2013.
- Approved the renaming of the former Professional Development Building on campus as the Honors Program Building.