February 17, 2003
University of Illinois
HE.03.06 Report on the Board of Higher Education Meeting, December 10, 2002.
The BHE met at The Westin Hotel in Chicago with Chair Steven Lesnik calling the meeting to order at 9:10 a.m. He noted Illinois placed third on the National Report Card, a drop from first two years ago. "We made progress; others made more." Budget recommendations had input from all Board members. A representative of the new Governor's transition team was introduced.
Ken Andersen reported for the Faculty Advisory Council that the frank exchange of views at the meeting of the previous Friday with BHE Director LaVista continues to build a strong, positive relationship of trust between the Council and the BHE. Noting the very difficult budget climate, he introduced an FAC statement calling for reestablishing the 5th year of MAP funding; protecting faculty compensation so it does not fall further behind peer comparison groups; not reducing the benefit component of compensation; improving support for up-to-date equipment and library resources; working with the various constituencies to understand existing needs, current educational goals, and the importance of higher education in making Illinois a place of choice to live. He noted that in forming the budget to meet the six goals of The Illinois Commitment
the BHE met in some sense the FAC's suggested seventh goal of enhancing the quality of life of the citizens of Illinois since each of the six current goals are means to that ultimate end.
Ron Taylor, representing the proprietary institutions, said their role in meeting the educational needs of the state should be noted given the great pressures on public institutions in the budget crunch. Don Fouts, representing the private institutions, said this was the toughest budget situation since 1968. Jeff Twardowsky, chair of the Student Advisory Committee, spoke of the need to establish a web-based consumer education system to provide accurate information for students and parents making choices in selecting a college. Michael Murphy, representing the Council of Community College Presidents, termed the proposed budget request "woefully inadequate." At best it means significant tuition increases, thousands of students unserved or underserved, major shortages in certain fields with the poor, people of color and the unemployed hurt the most. He urged a change in the paradigm with funds for post-secondary education linked to long-term economic development. The tax structure is inadequate and property taxes not available: no proposed increase for operating funds passed in the last election. He argued that the public always pays whether in taxes or loss of services. Despite efforts to encourage civic participation, students do not vote because they have rejected the "tainted mess that is politics" and have a lack of respect for how campaigns are run.
BHE Director LaVista reported briefly emphasizing the focus on K-16 linkages, the Associate Arts degree for teacher education, programs to prepare faculty leaders, and upgrading the U of I data warehouse to better monitor supply and demand to meet needs of employers in the state.
The Report on Statewide Results in meeting the six goals of The Illinois Commitment
noted progress in most areas but the gap in affordability is widening and the current budget situation poses a real challenge in the ability to continue progress in meeting the goals. It stressed the changing demographics of college students with only 27% fitting the traditional model. Critical areas of concern are attracting and maintaining high quality teaching and research faculty, improving K-12 student preparation for college work, access and affordability, assessment of student learning, maintaining quality in an era of tight budgets and increasing productivity with improved public accountability.
Action on the FY'04 budget recommendations was the major agenda item. The initial presentation stressed the challenges faced in formulating the request. Extensive consultation with the Board, with institutions and interested parties was key. The goals include making progress, maintaining competitiveness, demonstrating accountability and meeting the priorities of the new state leadership. The budget is conservative given our real needs. (See chart distributed with the HE.03.05 report.)
Most who asked to speak about the budget supported the recommendations as the best possible under the circumstances although not meeting urgent needs. One representative from a union said collective bargaining issues should be dealt with at the "front end" of the budget process rather than after the budget is set. Further, every employee is critical, implicitly objecting to the 1% recommended for retention of critical faculty vs. availability of those funds for allocation as part of the general salary increase. The FAC representative noted the key contribution institutions make to the economic health of their communities and questioned why community leaders and members did not actively voice much stronger support for the higher education budget.
Board members commented extensively. Robert English said that this budget did not meet the basic needs of higher education. In the past we have always proposed a budget that met the real needs and some of the additional desirable list. We will likely see double-digit tuition increases and underserved students. Martin said the reality is the money is not there with the possibility the overall discretionary state budget might need to be cut 20 to 25% and asked about the role of the Board if such a reduction and when they would address that role. Chair Lesnik assured him the Board has a role and would play it as necessary. The BHE, the first agency to put forward a budget request in a climate of great uncertainty, took into account the fiscal realities.
"We will fight hard for it." Duffy stressed the need to tell what the harms will be. People should be reminded what the results on the Report Card might look like in two or three years when people are running for reelection. "A human deficit is being created." The affordability gap is an issue for several members. Lamont argued tuition is a slippery slope saying that we raised tuition and the state then came in and took away that amount of money. Revenue enhancement should be borne by all taxpayers not students and their families. Lordes said we need to look at alternatives to the way we are currently spending the money we have. Cuts are being felt by those least able to afford them. We need alternatives, as we may be able to continue in the ways to which we have been accustomed. Cox said the budget is "awful but real" and that education is getting a bad reputation in Springfield for not working together. After Lesnik expressed appreciation for the solidarity in support of the budget request the budget recommendations were adopted unanimously.
A committee will be established to look at the Matching Grant Program statute and rules.
The Committee on Affordability noted it has held one meeting, a second to be held the afternoon of this meeting. Individuals may participate in a web-based survey by going to the BHE web-site at www.ibhe.org
Doug Day presented a report "Changing Demographics, Changing Educational Needs" responding to House Resolution #892. There was a large increase in the Hispanic population, 60%, and Asian population, 53% in the last decade. Illinois attracts a large number of foreign immigrants with perhaps 500K of them "undocumented," i.e., lacking the legal documentation to reside in this country. Of Illinois residents, about 1/5th speak language other than English at home and 1/10th report they speak English less than "very well." Hispanic student enrollments in the last decade have grown by about 80% but they are still underrepresented in Illinois higher ed. Asians, 3% of the population, represent 6% of degree recipients.
Institutions vary in whether they will allow undocumented students to enroll or receive aid. Recommendations include a strengthened high school curriculum, improved teacher education and quality, greater affordability, greater help to those seeking English proficiency and valuing and ensuring diversity in higher education. Board comments included the statement that the Hispanic community is a diverse one with the preferred term Latinos. Children of undocumented persons are often not given the chance for an education-they are paying for the "sins" of their parents. The question was raised whether this is a matter of policy or of law. One person noted that the federal law makes certain types of aid illegal. Access by undocumented immigrants and their children may be a legislative matter outside the Board's policy responsibilities.
The meeting concluded with a statement that work is continuing on faculty diversity issues with the staff giving attention to issues concerning women and those with disabilities as well as those usually termed "minorities." The consent agenda was approved without discussion and the meeting adjourned at 12:06 p.m.
Ken Andersen, Chair, FAC to the BHE
UIUC Senate Representative to the FAC