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December 5, 2005

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.06.03 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, October 18, 2005.

The FAC spent the morning observing the meeting of the IBHE and were joined by several members of the BHE following the BHE Executive session. Judy Erwin was introduced as the new Director of the BHE.  A variety of issues arose in the session.  The BHE chair, Kaplan, suggested that faculty should all teach a one-course overload and be paid for this.  He thinks faculty are too rigid and need to come up with new innovative ideas to enhance teaching and productivity to avoid the troubles besetting many private industries such as the airlines. (Some members of the board seem not to see a difference between non-profit higher education institutions and private profit-making businesses.) On-line education received a good deal of attention including such ideas as a way to cut costs and a means to serve students when interest in a class at a school is too small to justify its being offered there.  Dea Meyer continues to stress the need for assessment and is interested in the idea of a two-track faculty, some to teach, some to research. One concern was that much research is not useful since it is not cited by other researchers. For some board members, the differences between “research” to ensure cutting edge teaching and doing basic or applied research to contribute to knowledge more generally is not clear nor an understanding of how research helps teaching.

In a brief session after the Board members departed the FAC discussed possible responses to concerns that had been raised.  One was the idea of making greater use of Emeritus faculty in their areas of expertise ranging from mentoring students, serving on dissertation committees and working part-time at their own college to serving at other institutions that need the retirees’ expertise.  Since Illinois exports many of its best students to other states, one possibility would be an advertising campaign stressing the quality of educational opportunities in Illinois to hold in-state students and attract out-of-state students as well as stressing the cost effectiveness for Illinois students staying in state.

Another strategy is to strengthen the number and variety of non-degree programs with an emphasis on life-long learning. This could be online, weekends or nights, or special, intensive summer programs of limited length.  These might be certificate programs and include but not be limited to providing relatively immediately applicable skills as well as serve interests in the arts, concerns about social issues, etc.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative