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HE.04.16
September 27, 2004

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate
Final;Information

HE.04.16 Report on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Meeting, August 10, 2004.

The BHE met from 9:10 to noon at Western Illinois University followed by an Executive Session. Chair James Kaplan noted the death of former U of I President Jack Corbally.  He congratulated the twelve public universities’ for cutting administrative costs and is sending a letter to The Chicago Tribune to that effect.  Tom Lamont will serve as Acting Executive Director of the BHE effective August 16 replacing Dan LaVista who left the position on August 6.  Lucy Sloan was elected to serve as BHE Vice-Chair given Lamont’s resignation as a Board member.

After Western Illinois University President Al Goldfarb welcomed the group, Dan Layzell provided an overview of the agenda.  The National Center of Public Policy on Higher Education will issue a new report card on September 15.  Illinois ranked first in 2000 and third in 2002 but he expects the ranking to decline this year due to reductions in state funding.  Results of a pilot project to assess student learning in which Illinois participated will be in the report.

Ken Andersen presented the Faculty Advisory Council Report given Allan Karnes absence to attend a professional convention. He reported the election of Karnes to a second term as chair of the FAC, extended good wishes to former BHE Executive Director LaVista and welcomed Tom Lamont as Acting Executive Director.  He expressed support for the proposed revisions in The Illinois Commitment to make the goal of enhancing the quality of life of Illinois Citizens the overarching purpose describing it as the keystone holding the other elements together.  He noted the urgency of the issue posed relative to the role of the Commitment in bringing greater understanding of the role of higher education and thus greater citizen support. He congratulated Chairman Kaplan and the Board for staying the course in supporting their budget proposals and bringing about the relatively positive budget appropriation. Finally, he urged that the FY’06 budget effort be aggressive.  While the Illinois economic climate may improve signs are mixed.  Many see Illinois as having a structural deficit.  Efforts such as that of the “Save Our Schools” coalition implementing the former Ikenberry Commission recommendation of an increase in the income tax coupled with a reduction in property taxes must be supported by higher education leaders joining to enable us to meet our responsibilities to Illinois citizens.

Other advisory reports were brief, echoed the expression of appreciation to LaVista and the welcome to Lamont, and promised more comment in October. The current funding formula for community colleges is under study.  Despite a small overall funding increase, 24 districts lost funding and only 13 gained while enrollments generally increased.

Retiring member Jerry Blakemore, newly appointed general counsel for SIU, and retiring SIUE Chancellor David Werner were honored in board resolutions.
The BHE withdrew operating and degree granting authority from American Islam College. It approved new degrees and programs for several community, public and private colleges.

In reviewing the FY’05 budget Layzell stressed the importance of the memorandum of understanding signed by the Governor, one of some 50, that he will not place a spending restriction on the money appropriated to higher education.  The budget for public universities is essentially flat at the level of the FY’04 budget excluding SURS pension funding and some minor additional funding. MAP is funded for 4½ years of college. Some grant program funding was cut. The capital budget is delayed until the November session.

The overview of the FY’06 budget process stressed the 9.2% decrease in state general revenue funds FY’02 to FY’04.  Higher education’s share of general fund appropriations declined from 11.5% to 10.3%.  Illinois ranks below the national average in support for higher education taking into account population and wealth of state residents.  There has been an 18.4% reduction in administrative costs at public universities since FY’02.  Public input on the FY’06 budget is welcome: comments on the FY’06 budgeting goals and priorities should be sent via e-mail to fy2006budget@ibhe.org by Friday, September 17, 2004. Action on the BHE budget recommendations is set for the February 1 meeting.

The Illinois Commitment revisions will be presented for action in October.  The current goals are retained with modifications as policy areas rather than goals.  Again, they are not listed in rank order by importance.  The policy areas will have short (1 to 2) and long-term (3 or more years) objectives.  The language in policy area one was modified to remove the stress on business and industry and focus on economic growth in all sectors and policy area five to stress “high quality and well-rounded learning experiences.” A preamble will be developed stressing the role of higher education in educating a responsible citizenry and contributing to the overall quality of life for Illinois residents.  The purpose of the document needs clarification and efforts to communicate its content enhanced.  The performance indicators committee will consider the chances and implications for assessment of progress in the policy area. Comments on the proposed changes may be offered via the BHE website (www.ibhe.org) until September 15.

The issue of textbook pricing received extended discussion.   Efforts in other states, particularly California, to control prices were noted, as were textbook rental programs in Illinois including one at EIU.  Cost considerations must be balanced with academic freedom, the rapidity of knowledge change and using the “best” textbook was noted. Public colleges will be asked to describe current procedures relative to textbooks with a report to the BHE in February.

The Utilities Committee is submitting a grant proposal and is now focused on conservation as probably having more potential for savings than energy purchasing.  The Priorities, Productivity and Accountability Committee had not met since the last BHE meeting. A new chair will be appointed to replace Lamont and a new Subcommittee B chair to replace Blakemore.  No new meeting times have been set.

Ken Andersen, FAC Member
Senate Observer