February 17, 2003
University of Illinois
HE.03.05 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, December 6, 2002.
The FAC met at the Springfield Hilton hosted by the IBHE. The morning was given over to a presentation and discussion with IBHE Executive Director Daniel LaVista and meetings of the various committees. The afternoon included a meeting with Dan Layzell of the IBHE staff to discuss the budget for FY'04 and a brief business meeting.
IBHE Director LaVista stressed the difficulties of anticipating the emphases of the coming year given the unknowns of a new governor's priorities, many new legislators and legislative staff, and the budget shortfall that seems to be growing. However, he indicated the emphases that the BHE itself will stress include the P-16 initiative involving close partnerships of elementary and secondary and higher education. He expects heavy emphasis on the federal program of "no child left behind," on student performance and mandated testing. Curriculum integration between two and four year institutions will continue to create a seamless transition for students. An associate degree in teacher education will be mounted at several community colleges. While community colleges do not want to offer a bachelor's degree they will seek to make available such degrees on their campuses through associations with 4-year institutions and utilizing distance learning. LaVista stressed there is not a shortage of teachers in some areas so there will be an effort to strengthen the "data warehouse" at the U of I to better match supply and demand. We need new systems to increase retention of teachers: 50% of those granted certificates never teach in Illinois and many others drop out in the first three years.
Efforts are being made to orient new legislators and inform them on the needs of higher education in cooperation with elementary and secondary education. An orientation program for legislators at ISU on Jan. 9-10 will include presentations on needs of education. LaVista sees one of his key roles as building relationships with legislators and establishing some as champions of education as they are the ones present when the final decisions are made.
The reorganization of the structure of higher education may again become an issue. Certainly the new governor will look at that question. Given the transition in Springfield the governance of higher education will be on the table: how should higher education be organized; what roles should it play? LaVista hopes there will not be a move to "superboards" as in some other states and that IBHE not be given responsibility for execution rather than coordination and policy formulation. Accountability will remain an important issue: higher education will be asked to show why it should be funded at the level it is-never mind an increase. A current estimate of the deficit is $4.29B-a huge hole. Perhaps universities will lose control of income funds-a step IBHE does not favor. Surveys in other states suggest health care, economic development, and K-12 education are very important issues for the public while higher education is not an area of concern-it is way down the list. Our campuses look good, lawns mowed, flowers planted; our "appearance' does not suggest we are in trouble. Higher education needs to talk about human development, about our key role in improving human lives; we need to create an understanding of our value.
The Board will focus on the faculty diversity study that grew out of an executive order by Governor Ryan. A previous diversity study focused on students; this one will focus on faculty including minorities, women, and those with disabilities. Diversity needs to be one of the values of the institution. Affordability will be a major focus with a joint committee from the boards of ISAC and IBHE with a report due by next fall.
Budget, of course, is a major issue. The budget for FY'04 was framed without knowledge of the future governor's priorities so we don't have the understandings of past years that led to budgets being adopted in something of the form forwarded by the IBHE. Given the budget situation, IBHE choose a modest road between two contrasting views: ask for no increase or present a budget of our real needs. The budget proposal asks for 4.9% increase in General Revenue Funds (GRF).
It stresses a needed salary increase, 2%, with another 1% to attract and retain critical faculty. Retaining high quality faculty and staff is the key issue followed by restoring lost affordability. Retirement funding for SURS demands a major increase but one smaller than originally projected which is helpful. Other initiatives include P-16 efforts, adult education, diversity, and workforce development.
In concluding his remarks LaVista offered 5 priorities:
- Dealing with changes in Springfield in the executive and legislative areas and in staff.
- Initiatives coming from the Board such as faculty diversity and affordability.
- Remedial education: Why do we need to do so much? Why so costly?
- Restoring 5th year awards given the nature of the curriculum in many fields.
- Strengthening high school core requirements, especially science and math. Cost will be a major factor here with 80% of districts already in deficit financing.
A lively question and answer period followed. Among issues touched upon were the failure of many to understand the changing nature of education given new knowledge and new technology. Many remember college education as it was for them and have no sense of the changes of the last 40 years or so. There is concern about micro-management by the legislature in budget matters. Questions were posed about how the FAC could work to promote greater awareness by the public and legislators of the role and nature of higher education and what faculty actually do. LaVista at one point noted much greater federal intervention than ever before in such areas as mandated testing.
IBHE staff member Dan Layzell, now responsible for budget formulation, met with the group after lunch. He stressed that this was an "amazingly uncertain time." IBHE had to make recommendations dealing with key priorities balanced by the fiscal realities of the state without the usual guidance from the governor and key legislative leaders. (See attached summary of the budget recommendations.) Institutional requests to the IBHE for increased funding averaged about 14%. It will be several weeks before IBHE gets a sense from the new governor of his priorities. It is unlikely that this budget request will be funded; the issue may be whether we will incur further cuts. Even if the current request were funded, we would still have less money than we did last year. There is no money for new programs, no funding for a 5th year of MAP, no operations and maintenance money for new facilities.
He stressed the need to present higher education as part of the solution, not part of the problem. We must not whine about poor treatment but stress the contribution we can make to repair the damage in ways that benefit the citizens of the state. Any increase in tuition is and should remain an institutional decision but with recognition of affordability issues. Asked about the possibility of a recision, he said there was continuing concern in that other state agencies had been asked to build a reserve-so far education has not been asked to do so.
The major activity in the business meeting was approval of a statement on the FY'04 budget. The statement called for recognition of the important role higher education plays in preparing individuals for maximizing their contribution to the society. It recognizes the budget problems confronting the state and argues that education is a part of the solution but that its contributions are being constrained by cuts already imposed impacting student's education negatively. Internal reallocation and efforts to become more efficient have been ongoing for many years.
Other committee reports were abbreviated and planning for future meetings left to be conducted by e-mail since the bulk of the time had been spent with IBHE Director LaVista and Budget Director Dan Layzell.
Ken Andersen, FAC Chair
UIUC Senate FAC Representative