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HE.05.05
February 14, 2005

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate
Final;Information

HE.05.05 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, December 3, 2004.

The FAC met at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Springfield hosted by the IBHE.  The meeting began with Dan Layzell, Associate Director of the IBHE, discussing budget issues.  In general revenue funds (GRF) higher education in FY’05 is down 2% in constant dollars vs. FY’90.  GRF to public universities are down 14% in constant dollars; community colleges down 10% excluding recent funds added for adult education.  Student aid funding increased more than 30%, funding for retirement and health increased over 80%. These will take increasing amounts in future budgets.  Higher education now receives about 10% of GRF, a pattern of decline over several years.  The bulk of the reduction from FY’02 to FY’04 was in public university funding.

Current revenues are on track with predictions.  The recent court decision against a fee increase for business may open the door to similar suits and create more budget difficulties. The estimated FY’06 increase in state revenue is $740M but compensating for current one-time budget enhancements means only $325M new money.  Estimated needs for Medicaid of $300-350M, pensions $400-600M, health insurance $100-150M, and elementary and secondary education $440M indicate budget problems to be faced. Higher education funding is in for another difficult year. The governor does not give higher education any priority.  Federal cuts in Pell grants and research support will negatively impact Illinois higher education.

Longer term, we will have more students and students “harder” to educate. Affordability is the top goal in the budget priorities of BHE: 50,000 students who qualified for Monetary Award Programs were not funded last year.  Other priorities are enhancing faculty and staff salary competitiveness and protecting the state’s investment in university facilities with the backlog in deferred facilities maintenance growing.

Next, Interim Executive Director Tom Lamont met with the FAC.  He indicated a search for a permanent director not yet begun might get under way next year. While unsure of the duration of his role Lamont intends to be an activist, not a caretaker in these difficult times for higher education.  He does not know what the plans are of the governor regarding the IBHE.  He believes the idea of putting all of education under one board is dead for the next two years. Policy issues regarding higher education do not interest the executive branch in Springfield, budget issues do. The emphasis has been on K-12. There is little sense that the IBHE has input on policy decisions. 

There has been a significant turnover in IBHE membership and three more replacements are expected.  New members largely do not have familiarity with issues with which the IBHE deals.  There has been a major loss of the sense of the Board’s history and past decisions.

A major near-term objective must be restoration of the credibility of the IBHE.  Credibility has been lost due to a number of circumstances: change in administrations, Executive Director turnovers, and a big turnover (60-70%) in the legislature in the last six years.  Senator Weaver’s departure had a major negative impact with no one has assuming his role on behalf of higher education.  We need 3 or 4 strong people to “go to” in both parties in both houses.

We need to advocate on behalf of higher education.  Can’t advocate for higher salaries, but can advocate for quality of instruction, affordability, civic responsibility, and workforce development.  The latter area holds particular promise for working with chambers of commerce, unions, etc.  Studies show a $13K per year average differential in income between a high school education and a college degree.  Appeal is to invest in higher education, give us more money and we will yield more money to the state.

In response to a question, Lamont indicated he met with the new University of Illinois president who plans to be visible in Springfield even before his official February installation.  Lamont noted greater legislative activity on the part of public university presidents last year and expects even more this year.  Also, private institutions, especially the major players, must be very involved in Springfield.  We need to be unified.  He noted the damage done by the emphasis on “administrative bloat” and administrative costs.

Following lunch, two BHE members, Gill Rutman and Proshanta Nandi met with the FAC and a variety of issues were raised.  Rutman stressed the concern of some IBHE members over the quality of instruction provided by profit-making institutions coming into the state and offering degrees.  While there is the issue of limitation of interstate commerce, there is also a need to protect the consumer.  Salaries took a hit three years in a row; that needs to be addressed.  The Board must think in terms of the entire system of higher education, not individual components. The Board remains interested in productivity issues especially since state funding will remain difficult.  The possibility of reduction of programs was noted: Rutman does not believe higher education does enough to police the number of programs offered.   Nandi would welcome material on faculty productivity.

The meeting concluded with expressions of appreciation to the various presenters and for the hospitality extended to the FAC. A letter signed by the FAC chair is being sent to all legislators thanking them for holding the higher education budget constant last year and seeking future support given the important contribution of higher education to the Illinois economy.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative