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HE.00.04

Meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education Faculty Advisory Committee
December 10, 1999 - The Hilton Hotel, Springfield, Illinois

SYNOPSIS:

Keith Sanders, Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), met with the IBHE Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) in the morning. Carol Guthrie, an IBHE Staff Associate, also attended. Dr. Sanders reviewed recent budget developments for higher education in Illinois, as well as other critical issues in Illinois relating to higher education. He also responded to questions asked by the members of the Faculty Advisory Committee.

The business meeting in the afternoon session provided an opportunity for the various subcommittees to meet and for the committee as a whole to discuss the various agendas proposed by the subcommittees.

MORNING SESSION:

Dr. Sanders indicated that the proposed budget calls for a 6.6% increase to bring 155 million new dollars to higher education for FY 2001. If approved, this will be the largest annual increase in dollars for higher education in Illinois. In terms of the current inflation rate, the proposed budget will provide the largest ever net percentage gain. The budget includes a second year of the "3+1+1" initiative for providing incentives to public universities to attract and retain "critical" faculty. It also proposes the Illinois Virtual High School to supplement curricula in school districts where resources do not permit a full range of college prep courses. It will provide funds for the Illinois Century Network which will link all campuses, K-12 systems, museums, and libraries in one vast network.

Among the critical issues noted by Sanders are interest in high tech instruction, the expansion of higher education to the non-traditional adult student, and the focus on academic outcomes assessments. He suggested that in terms of adopting high tech instruction, higher education in Illinois may be held back by two factors: sometimes-inadequate bandwidth, and the relative slowness on the part of colleges and universities to provide faculty with release time and training to utilize the technology. The Illinois Century Network will help solve the first factor, but higher education administrators will need to work on the second factor.

Sanders also called for higher education in Illinois to recognize that the so-called "traditional" students (ranging between 18 and 22 years old, living on campus, and attending full time) now comprise only one-fifth of all college students. It will be necessary to adjust curricula and delivery of education to accommodate the non-traditional students in the future.

Sanders also felt that academic outcomes assessments will be a major focus of attention in the foreseeable future. It makes no sense for faculty to resist outcomes assessment if they, themselves, have a hand in developing the assessment criteria. Higher education has avoided documenting the positive contributions it makes in students' lives. Sanders maintained that he cannot continue to get new money from the Legislature unless he can show that already available is being spent effectively. He suggested that a Faculty Advisory subcommittee be established to look at the Results Reports, with feedback to the Illinois Board of Higher Education by late winter.

Among the questions asked and the answers provided by Dr. Sanders were the following:

Question: Will private and parochial high schools benefit from the Illinois Virtual High School offerings?

Answer: Yes they most likely will, but just how has not been determined. There will most likely be no way to determine whether online students are attending private or public schools. The question raises some interesting constitutional questions, but the fact is that the new technology does not recognize the old boundaries.

Question: Where will the digital high school be located?

Answer: Anywhere and everywhere. Western Illinois University will take the lead in working with the K-12 systems to make the virtual high school a reality.

Question: To what extent will individual institutions' accountability be linked to the state budget?

Answer: In other states some institutions apparently gain or lose financially depending on their outcomes reports. The efforts at the higher education level in Illinois will be more general. This first year of Results Reports is IBHE's way of providing a broad report card. Sanders would like FAC involvement in helping the IBHE find a way to assess outcomes qualitatively as well as quantitatively.

Question: What will be the financial impact of the Illinois Century Network on individual institutions?

Answer: The budget provided 15 million dollars in base support in last year's budget; it is requesting 17 million this year. Half of those funds are for fiber connectivity; the other half is to assist institutions to connect locally. The state is assuming the major financial burden, not the individual institutions.

Question: What is the impact of the apparent shift away from shared governance to a business model in higher education?

Answer: Sanders invited the FAC to provide an objective assessment of governance in higher education. If shared governance is being eroded, what are the consequences for students and for recruitment of staff and faculty? If accountability is not to be based on a business model where the accountability is measured in dollars and cents, then we must be prepared to document our quality. Faculty must demonstrate that their concern over shifts in governance are more than automatic reactions to a threat to their territory. It is no surprise that a corporate mentality is emerging on local boards, most of whose members come from the business community. The tension between such boards and the academic institutions should be constructive, not destructive.

Question: What will be the faculty's role in ensuring the quality of the online courses that will be offered through various consortia?

Answer: Faculty must be heavily involved. The content of such courses and the pedagogical quality are the responsibility of faculty. Sanders pointed out that the "cottage industry" of Internet course creation is giving way to richly funded corporate creation of such courses.

Question: Would the IBHE consider helping those public institutions where the budgets have already been so heavily trimmed over the years that they cannot meet their 1% share of the "3+1+1," perhaps by offering a "3 + + 1 1/2"?

Answer: No. The Board is unlikely to believe that institutions as large as the state universities cannot internally re-allocate to meet their share of the incentive. Institutions that cannot maintain their current broad array of programs should get rid of the weaker ones.

Sanders suggested that members of the FAC could pursue a HECA grant to address the issue of quality. We need a definition of academic quality that will suggest the role of higher education in sustaining the core values of democracy. A subcommittee of the FAC should look at Bob Resek's "Economic and Non-Economic Benefits of Higher Education." It must be understood that there is a difference between asking institutions of higher education to demonstrate their quality and asking them to show their profit.

Afternoon Session (Business Meeting):

The subcommittees met and discussed how best to fulfill their responsibilities and make their reports. Each subcommittee will take responsibility for a FAC meeting in 2000 according to the following schedule:

January: Budget -- Mark Wilcockson from the IBHE will discuss the budget and provide information on how the FAC can best influence the development of the 2002 budget. Faculty are urged to attend the Big Picture meetings held near or on their own campuses.

February: Technology -- Neal Matkin and Lynn Murphy will be coming to FAC to discuss the status and implications of the Illinois Century Network.

March: Quality -- The Quality Subcommittee will respond to the Resek report and will provide a draft of a definition of academic quality. (Committee members agreed to consider eight important aspects of quality.)

AD HOC SUBCOMMITTEE

At Dr. Sanders' suggestion, a FAC ad hoc subcommittee was formed to pursue a HECA grant on assessment and governance. The membership so far includes Karnes, Mullen, Roth, Rao, So, and Weech.

Submitted by Terry L. Weech, UIUC Representative to the IBHE/FAC, 1/26/00.