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Western Illinois University president steps down amid enrollment turmoil

A 2018 aerial image of Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill.
Sarah Twidwell
Western Illinois University
An aerial image of Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill. WIU President Guiyou Huang announced Friday he is stepping down at the end of the month.

MACOMB, Ill. — Guiyou Huang, Western Illinois University’s president, announced Friday he will step down at the end of the month in the midst of the university's enrollment turmoil.

“After much reflection, I have decided to leave the University,” Huang wrote to the board of trustees. “This was not an easy conclusion to come to, but I have decided it is time to move on to the next chapter of my life and be closer to my family, but I will always be a Leatherneck at heart.”

Huang did not elaborate on his reasons for leaving. WIU is dealing with financial and enrollment struggles.

The university ended fiscal 2023 with a $12 million deficit in its appropriated funds budget used for salaries and day-to-day expenses. The year prior, the campus had a $4.5 million deficit in that fund. Last summer, campus leaders noted first-year student applications and overall enrollment were down more than 6%.

In response, WIU signed a $200,000-per-year contract with EAB Global Inc., an education consulting firm, last October to help provide the university leadership guidance on challenges it’s facing — including recruitment, retention and possible reductions or cuts in programs.

"Dr. Huang brought professionalism and integrity to WIU, a leader who was an advocate for all students from all walks of life," said board of trustees Chair Carin Stutz in a news release. "During his time at WIU, he championed the Performing Arts Center, drove enrollment and re-engaged many of our alumni."

Western Illinois University President Dr. Guiyou Huang announced March 1, 2024, he is stepping down. Kristi Mindrup will serve as the university’s interim president beginning Monday, April 1, 2024.
Rich Egger / Tri States Public Radio
Kristi Mindrup via LinkedIn
Western Illinois University President Guiyou Huang, left, announced Friday he is leaving his position. If approved by the school's board of trustees, Kristi Mindrup will serve as the university’s interim president beginning April 1.

The board will take up Huang's separation agreement on March 22. If it's approved, Vice President of Quad Cities Campus Operations Kristi Mindrup will become interim president on April 1. She is the longest-serving vice president at the university.

"I am grateful to President Huang for his steady and thoughtful leadership and his many accomplishments,” Mindrup wrote in a news release.

Tri States Public Radio's Rich Egger contributed to this report.

Brian Munoz is the interim Digital Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.