December 9, 2002
University of Illinois
HE.03.04 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, November 1, 2002.
The FAC met at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Following the presentation by SIU-C Chancellor Wendler, the meeting was given over to working sessions of the various committees followed by a discussion of the interactions with IBHE members on October 1 and the anticipated meeting with IBHE Executive Director Dan LaVista December 6.
The Chancellor, Walter Wendler, welcomed the FAC and discussed a variety of issues facing the campus. The Chancellor is comparatively new to the campus, having left a position in Texas to assume his current duties. He said he believed it is not good public policy to give so much of the state scholarship funds to private universities but doubted that will change given the political climate. With regard to the faculty demands for increased compensation, he noted the difficulty of negotiating when the institution is so short of resources given recent cuts and uncertain future state funding. (The previous day members of the faculty union had picketed in support of a 21% increase in salary and benefits over the next three years.) He anticipates a rescission occurring by early 2003 and believes the current negative budget climate may exist for another three years.
The university is engaged in a long-range planning process to develop a mission statement stressing what the university should be in 2019, the 150th anniversary of its founding. Hence, it is simultaneously doing short-range crisis management and long-range planning. He views Illinois as a wealthy state that does not adequately support education. Among issues he believes must be considered is whether SIU-C can continue to be a research university given its location in a non-urban setting, it is not the "flagship" research institution, and it is located in an economically depressed area. Questioned about the impact of a change in mission, he noted the significant impact of SIU-C on the area as the largest employer in the state south of Effingham and a major economic engine for the area-one likely to remain very depressed with an outflow of population. He noted efforts to assist in economic development such as the recently created small business center.
As part of his planning he has asked units to contemplate a 5% reduction in their budget each of the next three years. The funds may be needed to meet cuts by the state or may be reallocated as part of the long-range planning initiative. A long-term rather than short-term focus is essential for doing what is right for the campus. He stressed that the quality of the education provided must be the major goal of any academic institution.
In responding to questions he noted that "testing" should not be the means nor the goal in any accountability process. Also, we need a united voice including all segments of higher education as it competes for state funding.
The various committees met for two hours, followed by lunch and a brief business meeting. The Council discussed ways in which it could improve communication with members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the IBHE staff. Board members are appointed through a political process, not because of expertise in higher education issues. More frequent meetings with some/all of the Board members may be useful including invitations to join us for additional meetings or for the dinners held the night before FAC formal meetings.
With regard to the December 6 meeting with the IBHE director, it was agreed that budget considerations would be the top issue. In addition, methods to enhance communication and ways to utilize the expertise of the Council should be discussed as well as a faculty representative with or without vote on the IBHE. The key is a voice more than a vote since there are essentially no issues that involve a close vote.
The Budget Committee, the Personnel Committee, and the Quality of Education Committee expect to have position papers presented for action at the December meeting. The Public Policy Committee continues to discuss ways of enhancing communication between faculty and the IBHE, the legislature and governor, and the general public. One problem noted is that faculty members appropriately focus upon their teaching, research, and service activities and tend to feel that interaction with external groups and individuals is not their responsibility. Also, some administrations are wary of faculty contacts with external constituencies.
Ken Andersen, FAC Chair
UIUC Senate FAC Representative