University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Senate

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October 10, 2006


Dr. B. Joseph White
President, University of Illinois
364 Henry Administration Building
Urbana-Champaign           MC-346

Dr. Chester S. Gardner
Special Assistant to the President
377 Henry Administration Building
Urbana-Champaign           MC-348

Re: “Global Campus” Proposal

Dear Joe and Chet:

I write on behalf of the University Senates Conference to continue our discussion about the Global Campus proposal.  First, I would like to thank you for your letter concerning the Global Campus, dated September 22, 2006.  In that letter, you requested our input on three academic issues: faculty membership on the Academic Council; requirements by which Global Campus core faculty might be eligible for tenure; and the design of a governance process that ensures academic quality while also meeting UI policies and HLC standards.  These are all crucial items that we can address in the Senates Conference and in the campus Senates, but they are also incomplete answers to the longer and substantive list of concerns outlined in our letter of September 6, 2006. 

We believe that faculty must see detailed academic plans – specific examples of Global Campus undergraduate degree completion programs, master’s degree programs, and certification programs of the sort envisioned in the business plan.  That is, we need to see specific examples that are both academically sound and realistic before we can endorse the Global Campus proposal.  We believe that the three campus senates are similarly minded.

To be more specific: as we move from the big picture phase toward implementation, a number of questions arise.  For example, how will the courses in online degree completion programs look in comparison to our on-campus junior and senior level courses?  Typically, upper-division courses are taught by full-time faculty.  While we see meaningful participation of full-time faculty before the Global Campus acquires accreditation, what happens after accreditation?  Although we have all taught summer courses that compress 15 weeks of material into eight weeks, such courses usually comprise only a small portion of the courses taken within a major, and often such summer courses do not cover material in the same breadth or depth as regular courses.  How will seven-week online courses address this problem of coverage?  How will seven-week online courses mesh with the faculty’s usual 15 week cycle?  What are the mechanisms by which regular faculty oversight of courses and programs occurs?  If faculty members on our three existing campuses are needed to staff or closely monitor online programs, and if large numbers of students are contemplated, how will this be accomplished without detriment to our research, on-campus teaching and service missions.  Does participation in the Global Campus count as on-load or overload work for UI faculty?  What will total costs be for a given program?  How will support services and staffing needs be met?    

We gather from your letter of September 22 that Chet’s administrative team has “already identified about a dozen academic programs that the campuses are interested in exploring” at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Presumably this means that you are in a position to address these questions with some specificity.  If so, it would be very helpful to us and to the three campus senates if you would do so at this time.  If models and specific examples do not currently exist, we trust that they will be made available to us and to the senates before we are asked for our endorsement of the Global Campus Initiative.  If you wish, we will be pleased to identify a group of faculty with relevant expertise, drawn from the three campuses, to review and comment upon draft proposals for such programs that your administrative team may develop.  That group of faculty could also work with Chet’s group to address membership on the Academic Council, possible tenure processes and governance structures, and other issues concerning the Global Campus.

However, we would prefer, and recommend, that UI faculty be central to the creation of the Global Campus.  Our goal is to work collaboratively with you and other university constituencies to create an online teaching unit that all UI faculty, students, administrators, and alumni could support and be proud of for its excellence and innovation.  We believe there is extraordinary talent, creativity, and commitment to online teaching across the campuses, and that by tapping that talent, UI could become a national leader.  We also believe that the best way to create a national model is to engage in a collegial process – one that requires significant involvement of faculty, administrators, and support staff.  This will require an approach that does not have predetermined outcomes or models.  The Senates Conference looks forward to fully participating in this work.

Terry Bodenhorn
Terry Bodenhorn, Associate Professor and
Chair, University Senates Conference

cc:     Richard Herman, Chancellor, UIUC
         Sylvia Manning, Chancellor, UIC
         Richard Ringeisen, Chancellor, UIS
         Vernon Burton, Chair, UIUC Senate Executive Committee
         Elliot Kaufman, Chair, UIC Senate Executive Committee
         Pat Langley, Chair, UIS Campus Senate
         University Senates Conference Members