Senate of the Urbana-Champaign Campus

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SC.09.03
October 6, 2008

BOT Meeting, Urbana Illinois
September 11, 2008

Chairman Eppley reviewed completed construction projects at Urbana: the new College of Business classroom building; the new Micro and Nanotechnology building; the I-Hotel and Conference Center; the renovation of Memorial Stadium; and the revamped sports and recreation facility (ARC). Kudos to the Chancellor and everyone who helped bring these major projects to fruition.

Chancellor Herman gave a report from the Urbana campus. He discussed the importance of facilities to the mission of the university. He discussed a campus effort to increase voter registration and turnout. Our overall student body is the most diverse in the Big Ten; ACT and class ranking scores of admitted students have gone up. He announced the creation of the Office of Sustainability and introduced its first director, Richard Warner. He introduced Professor Charles Slichter, Urbana’s latest recipient of the National Medal of Science.

The Chancellor reported on faculty salaries, compared with our IBHE peers. We are $20 million in recurring funds below the median. Compared to specific peers, such as Michigan and Berkeley, we have lost ground.

There was a statement of recognition for the student members of Illini EMS, providers of emergency medical services.

The Chancellor of UI Springfield was pleased to report that UIS was ranked #4 in the US News ratings of small public universities in the Midwest.

Public comments addressed the following topics: (1) Honoring minority student programs at the university from the 1960’s and 1970’s, including Project 300, which expanded educational opportunities for African-American students, and for others, but raising concerns that nondiscrimination efforts are becoming more problematic today; (2) A presentation on the importance of protecting the right to dissent at this university, and the wider issue of the exclusion and neglect of minority voices and concerns; (3) A report that 80% of the students voted in a recent campus election to return Chief Illiniwek, and a call for the Trustees to heed those voices.

Executive Assistant VP Michael Bass gave a report on Willard Airport. Small regional jets, like those that fly in and out of Willard, are the least fuel efficient and are often the first reduced as fuel costs go up. American Airlines hub flights to O’Hare have been reduced. Fares and fees are increasing. The future of regional airports is uncertain. Looking ahead, the university is looking at a new governance structure, including the formation of an Airport Authority, which would yield a tax revenue flow to the airport; talking with the airlines and looking at new route options; and looking at various land use and facilities needs for the future.

President White reported on state ethics training. The University has been asked to take over the management of statewide ethics training for higher education. The training will be developed by the University in line with Inspector General standards, and will be used by all four-year institutions within the state. The University will control and own the content of the program; and it will be revised to better fit the conditions and needs of higher education institutions. This is currently an unfunded mandate; no funds are being transferred from the Inspector General to offset these costs.

VP Meena Rao reported on a committee she has created to review conflict of interest and conflict of commitment policies. More to come.

Trustee Bruce reported from the Budget and Audit Committee. VP Walter Knorr summarized the 2009 Operating Budget. The $4.2 billion budget includes a 6.8% overall increase from 2008.

Trustee Sperling asked whether more money could be transferred into faculty salaries. VP Knorr replied that the campuses do have that flexibility. The Trustees discussed the range or spread of faculty salaries, and how these decisions are made.

VP Knorr summarized the 2010 Budget Request, made to IBHE. The $109 million request includes a 3% merit and 1.5% recruitment/retention/compression request. Trustee Sperling urged a higher request in this area – “to ask for what we need instead of what we think we might get.”

UPDATE: After an Executive Session, the Trustees changed the 2010 salary request to: 3% merit and 2.5% recruitment/retention/compression.

The Budget Request also includes requests to address anticipated needs in utilities and the libraries. It includes six capital requests for Urbana, including Lincoln Hall, totaling $217 million. (Petascale Computing is separate.) President White said that he expects a capital budget from the state, in which Lincoln Hall is a top priority, but that we need a backup plan for Lincoln Hall in the event that doesn’t happen.

VP Knorr provided an update on Global Campus. The total budget for FY08 was $8.9 million. $6.1 million was expended, partly due to deferred hiring. So far, this fiscal year looks the same, with expenditures falling below budgeted amounts. Total enrollment is 121 students, in five program areas. Online enrollments at the other campuses are: Urbana, 575; Chicago, 290; Springfield, 1,454. President White noted the good news (Global Campus is underway, enrollments are growing, the budget is well-managed) and the “very bad news” (that bringing an affordable college education to the public is not moving forward). President White promised a new proposal on moving that part of the Global Campus mission forward at the next BOT meeting.

VP Knorr gave a presentation on bond refunding and on natural gas futures purchasing to control costs. Natural gas is about 55% of our energy budget.  CEO John DeNardo delivered a report on the Hospital for FY08. Net income was in the black last year, just barely; that reflects the state of health care nationally. In three specific areas of strategic initiative, significant growth has been achieved.

UIF President Sid Micek gave a report from the UI Foundation. The Urbana campus is 2/3 of the way toward its goal, passing the $1 billion mark. There are 3 ½ years remaining in the Brilliant Futures campaign. Annual giving is going up, both in amount and in number of givers, both of which are against national trends.  Alumni Association President Loren Taylor gave a report. Under an innovative membership model, the Alumni Association now grown to 617,000 members.

SEC Chair Burbules closed the meeting with a report from the Urbana Senate. He emphasized activities to provide better communication about and visibility of Senate activities, and talked about four themes he expects to be significant topics of discussion in the Senate this year: budget, energy, interdisciplinarity, and e-learning.

Respectfully submitted,

Nicholas Burbules, University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign  Senate observer