September 30, 2002
University of Illinois
HE.03.01 Report on the Board of Higher Education Meeting, August 20, 2002.
The BHE met at the Lincoln Land Community College downtown Springfield Capital Cites site. Chair Steven Lesnik called the meeting to order at 9:03 a.m. Three new members joined the Board including a UIS graduate student Katie Cox. The Director of the State Board of Education spoke of a commitment to work together with higher education on a number of key agenda items and pledged to strike down barriers to communication between the two groups. Interim Lincoln Land President Naomi Lynn said the many services provided to local communities by colleges such as Lincoln Land warranted the shift from the term "junior colleges" to "community colleges." Lincoln Land offers classes at several sites plus distance learning as it serves the largest geographical area of the Illinois community colleges.
Executive Director Dan La Vista commented on several agenda items with particular focus on the budget situation including cuts to ISAC and HECA. The Legislature/Governor made several specific required cuts in certain cases rather than leaving decisions to the IBHE or Scholarship Commission. Despite cuts, we need to move forward as best we can.
Representatives of the advisory committees made brief statements. The Faculty Advisory Council statement on "All Faculty Matter" was briefly summarized noting concerns about the survey of non-tenure-track faculty but endorsing the report's recommendations while stressing the need to focus upon differences among part-time faculty, involving senior faculty in recommended programs of evaluation and extending the recommendations to faculty at private institutions. The FAC complimented La Vista and the staff on the excellent news release for the meeting stressing key concerns including the loss of nearly 7% in funding for higher education this year, a loss of nearly 11% in inflation adjusted spending for the 12 public universities since FY '90, and cuts of 10.3% from the Monetary Award Program while tuition and fees at public universities are rising an average of 12% (6.6% at community colleges.) Studies of affordability and faculty diversity were endorsed. Concern was expressed that The Illinois Commitment as a screening mechanism for budget proposals does not represent the totality of higher education's contributions to the state and its citizens.
Other advisory committees focused on various issues: The private institution representative spoke only of the need to restore full funding of the MAP program. Others noted that with 2002 bringing the greatest turnover in the legislature in 20 years, educating committee chairs and new members about higher education is essential with higher education presenting a unified front.
The Board approved guidelines for submitting noninstructional capital projects; heard a report on the higher education cooperative act, with three presidents providing specific descriptions of the
impact of programs of their campuses; and approved the Higher Education Cooperation Act (HECA) FY 2003 Grants although concern was voiced over continuation of some long-time grants on a yearly basis rather than transferring the funds to the institution to maintain the program. The legislative report focused--as did the session--on budget issues.
The importance of defeating a series of bills over the years to limit public institutional tuition increases to 5% was noted in terms of the impact such laws would have had this year. The Board was updated on the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) with the impact just now being fully felt with students moving into the four-year institutions. One hundred nine institutions in Illinois are active participants with the program serving as a model for other states.
A major study of the affordability of higher education will be conducted over the next 14 months with a strong possibility of legislative action required to implement its recommendations. The committee co-chairs are members of the IBHE and ISAC. They will examine a wide range of policy issues including who should pay how much and whether aid should go to students at private institutions. (Student members of the respective boards will be included; no mention of faculty participation.)
The preliminary report on "Establishing Performance Indicators to Assess Progress Toward Meeting the Goals of The Illinois Commitment" led one board member to stress the need for testing of all students at graduation; another the need to demonstrate actual ability to teach, not just knowledge. The report will receive input from various groups, including the FAC, and the staff will consult with board members. (The final report is due for action in December.)
Another major focus this year will be a study on faculty diversity resulting in part from the Governor's Executive Order. It will include attention to female faculty and faculty with disabilities. Information will be sought on "pools" of potential faculty, the hiring process and campus leadership and retention of faculty and campus climate. Public hearings, focus groups and a "web hearing" are planned and information gathered on best practices and programs.
La Vista briefly summarized FY 2004 budget issues. SURS allocations will be up and new revenue is not yet turning upward. In visits with the campuses, he will stress the necessity of hard choices to balance revenue and quality issues. We must do what is best for students. The staff document for this item raised numerous significant issues relating to the Monetary Assistance Program (who gets funding and other priorities relating to affordability), faculty salaries (whether recent improvements mean funds can be redirected to other priorities), a range of policy issues, funding of new programs vs. cutting old programs, adult education, funds for the math and science academy funding, deferred maintenance, restoring funds for some programs that have been cut and a range of other policy issues.
The consent agenda was adopted without discussion. An emeritus professor from UIS asked the board to consider focusing upon "class" as a key to diversity, noting that courts may rule out other approaches. He noted his survey of UIUC faculty showed few had parents who were janitors, cooks or day laborers. The meeting adjourned at approximately 12:20 p.m. with the comment that the goal of more involvement in discussion by board members was met.
Ken Andersen, Chair, FAC to the BHE
Senate Representative to the FAC