April 24, 2000
Meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education Faculty Advisory Committee
February 25, 2000 - Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois
Victor Boschini, President of Illinois State University, welcomed the Illinois Board of Higher Education Faculty Advisory Committee to the campus. The remainder of the morning was spent on a presentation by Neil Matkin and Lynn Murphy on the Illinois Century Network, a high speed network providing internet access to Illinois educational institutions. The afternoon session was spent discussing various proposals from the Budget Subcommittee and reports from other subcommittees.
The morning session opened with Lane Crothers, the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) representative from Illinois State University, introducing Victor Boschini, President of Illinois State University. President Boschini welcomed members of the FAC and noted his personal commitment to faculty involvement in university governance and recognized the importance of organizations such as the Faculty Advisory Committee in providing faculty input.
Neil Matkin and Lynn Murphy representing the Illinois Century Network (ICN) were introduced and presented the status of the Illinois Century Network implementation. Matkin gave some general background on the ICN, noting the complexity of coordinating the existing networks of Illinois library systems, community college districts, public and private colleges and universities, and elementary and secondary school systems into the seventeen Local Access Transfer Areas (LATAs). These LATAs make it possible to establish Points of Presence (POPs) to bring the ICN as close as possible to constituents. The goal of the Illinois Century Network is to provide high speed connections to the libraries, museums, K-12 school districts, community colleges, and universities in each LATA. All but eight Illinois community colleges are already hooked up to ICN. Application packets for institutions are on the web site: <http://www.linc2icn.net/>
ICN will be used to increase educational attainment in Illinois. Now only 53% of high schools in the state have college preparation courses. The Illinois Virtual High School, using ICN, will make it possible for every school to have access to such courses. Matkin noted that the private sector (GTE, Ameritech, and other private telecommunications providers in Illinois) has expressed concerns that the ICN, as a state supported network, is inappropriate competition and may cut into their profits from providing internet connections. It was observed that it likely will do so, as internet access right now is largely through such commercial connections, but providing such a state-supported network is seen as in the best interest of education in Illinois.
Matkin and Murphy then responded to questions.
Question: What will be the cost of ICN to the institutions?
Response: The State has budgeted 28 million dollars for this year and for next year, along with e-rate credits of 3 million dollars. If ICN provides good service, it would be difficult for the State to back off from its commitment. Institutions will not incur any costs for the "backbone," or for the internet connection. The only cost they might have to bear would be for actual access to the system from their institution. Matkin pointed out that there is likely to be a low fee, even though billing is tedious, established a year after an institution's initial connectivity in order to convey a perception of shared costs. Such billings would most likely be done on an annual basis.
Question: What protection do colleges and universities have against spiraling costs? What will ensure cost containment and quality?
Response: Currently we are operating in a free market system, although that may not be the case over the long term. If ICN fails to be the lowest-cost, highest-quality provider, we would go somewhere else.
Question: Will there be technologies that supersede this cable? Institutions stay fixed, but students move around. Will mobile connections be possible? Will faculty become "Porta-Profs"?
Response: Probably. George Badger is chairing a "Futures" group to anticipate such changes. The goal of the I-wire True Grit Project is to provide a network that is always five years ahead of the present.
Question: Why are we leasing fiber rather than owning it or seeking a vendor to provide it?
Response: ICN considered both possibilities and studied states where both had been tried, with problems emerging in both scenarios. There may be a point at which the State itself puts its own fiber under the state highways. By leasing we have the capacity to increase as need demands. ICN is committed to ordering more of whatever it is we need, as soon as our capacity hits 40%. Because education is the highest priority of ICN, it will not risk the problems that plague systems with routine overloads.
Question: If colleges and universities have super-wide connections but students are limping along with less-sophisticated home systems, how will they be able to connect? Already students are finding it difficult to connect to their colleges and universities from home.
Response: If it is important for institutions to ensure access from off-campus, then it is up to the institutions to allocate their resources to make that possible. Now it takes students a maximum of 5 hops to get from their home to their educational site.
Question: What types of hardware will institutions need?
Response: It does not matter to ICN. Institutions can find consultants listed in the yellow pages who will help them plan for their own specific hardware needs. ICN intends to establish regionally-based technology support centers, each staffed by three ICN employees (two technical and one support), charged with pulling together the local technology user groups in each region. ICN is inviting requests for proposals from institutions that would like to hire and house these individuals whose costs will be covered by two-year grants. Requests for such proposals can be found on the ICN web page. <http://www.linc2icn.net/>
Question: Is it clear that online instruction is less expensive than the "sage on stage" model? Can online instruction even be effective if faculty have not had the opportunity to develop and adapt courses for this new mode of delivery?
Response: It may not be less expensive, but it could increase access. ICN has approximately 1.3 million dollars about to lapse; maybe this money could be available for faculty development.
Question: Will ICN cut out our access to any other internet sites?
Response: We will continue to be able to access anything we can currently get to on the internet.
AFTERNOON SESSION: Business Meeting:
At the request of Leo Welch, the FAC considered the following motion: MOTION: The Faculty Advisory Committee supports HB 4266 which would transfer coordination of adult education in the State of Illinois from the Illinois Board of Education to the Illinois Community College Board. (ICCB). (Welch, Beck)
Discussion: Currently community colleges in the state provide 78% of all adult education. 16% is provided by K-12 systems, and the remaining 6% is community-based, or in correctional facilities, or in non-profit systems. HB4266 would not change the providers but would transfer governance to the ICCB. The Board of Higher Education supports this change, as do the Illinois Board of Education, the Illinois Community College Board, and the governor. The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) has voiced soft opposition to the transfer until arrangements can be made to accommodate the 17 or 18 IFT members currently employed by the Board of Education. The motion passed on a voice vote.
BUDGET SUBCOMMITTEE PROPOSALS
In response to Mark Wilcockson's request at the January IBHE/FAC meeting for input from the Faculty Advisory Committee on the 2002 budget planning, the Budget Subcommittee presented five statements for consideration. They were:
1. A request for clarification of an institution's ability to carry over an income fund from one fiscal year to another;
2. A request that the Illinois Higher Education Cooperation Act (HECA) or other state funds be set aside to research the validity of the state's basing university salary increases at only 95% of the prior year's salary base;
3. A resolution that IBHE encourage public universities to seek faculty input in defining and identifying "critical" faculty (cf. FAC Minutes of Nov. 5, 1999);
4. A request that the IBHE consider capping tuition and fees in the ISAC-Monetary Award Program at the highest tuition and fees charged at a state institution; and
5. A request that the IBHE reallocate funds in the "Interinstitutional Grant Program" to provide money to be matched by individual institutions for academic (not need-based) scholarships.
Several members of the Faculty Advisory Committee expressed concern that the Budget Subcommittee included no representation from the private institutions, recalling that such representation had been discouraged at the time committees were formed on the grounds that the Budget Subcommittee's issues were largely issues affecting the State universities whose funding came directly from the State. However, it was noted that items 4 and 5 would directly impact financial assistance to students attending private institutions, thereby limiting students' choices. FAC members also voiced concern over any Subcommittee communicating directly with the IBHE, noting that it is the Faculty Advisory Committee's role to advise the Board, not any individual's or any sub-committee's role. It was pointed out that Mark Wilcockson specifically invited individuals or the committee as a whole to respond with suggestions or concerns about the budget planning process. Items 1 and 2 received general support from the committee, and item 3 had already been presented to the IBHE on the basis of a FAC motion passed in November.
MOTION: That the FAC approve forwarding to Mark Wilcockson at the IBHE items 1, 2, 3, and 5 of the Budget Subcommittee's proposal. (Flener/Roth) AMENDMENT: That #5 be stricken from the motion. (Elwood/Sheridan) The amended motion passed (19 to 4 with one abstention).
Weech noted that there was no restriction on members on individual members of the FAC on responding directly to Mark Wilcockson, as he had asked for such input. Weech will prepare a statement to go to Wilcockson. Other members of the FAC should feel free to send their concerns over budget matters to Wilcockson.
ACCESS AND DIVERSITY SUBCOMMITTEE
Pat Puccio reported that the Access and Diversity Subcommittee has the written testimony from all hearings conducted by the IBHE. Marlow and Puccio attended focus group sessions on access for disabled students.
The April meeting of the FAC will focus on access and diversity issues.
Fred Flener reported that the Subcommittee was hoping to secure someone from Alverno College to present their efforts to ensure quality at a future FAC meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 1:45 P.M.
Submitted 3/24/2000 by Terry L. Weech, UIUC IBHE/FAC Representative.