March 17, 2003
HE.03.09 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, February 28, 2003.
The FAC met at Parkland Community College. Dr. Zelema Harris, President, addressed the group, responded to questions, and remained through the McMillan presentation. She commended the FAC for tackling key issues facing higher education and stressed the urgency of faculty having a voice and being heard. Parkland faculty are involved in budget, governance, and strategic planning. Parkland in the last decade has sharply reduced administrative personnel and moved from 48% full-time faculty to a current 60% vs. 40% part-time. After steady enrollments in the last few years, enrollment is up this year. She stressed the importance of the Center for Teaching and Learning as a means of professional development for faculty. The center is led by faculty and enables faculty to research and improve their own teaching methods. One strong emphasis at Parkland is student retention: the key is not only to set tough standards but also to help students meet those standards. Parkland is working very hard to increase faculty diversity and hopes that the Baake standard will prevail in the Supreme Court decision on the Michigan cases. With regard to academic assessment, she believes we need to do a much better job of communicating what we are doing, particularly to legislators. The accountability movement is taking shapes nationally that she does not understand.
Virginia McMillan, long-time Executive Vice President of the Illinois Community College Board, described the creation and functions of the ICCB, one of three state education boards. The State Board of Education is responsible for K-12 schools with the third being the IBHE. The ICCB serves a coordinating function much like that of the IBHE. It coordinates 39 community college districts and the 48 community colleges. The community college system was brought into being in the 1960's as part of an educational plan of the state. Locally elected boards of trustees govern community colleges with the exception of Chicago where the mayor appoints them. The Governor appoints the eleven voting members of the ICCB with a non-voting student member elected by the student advisory board. While there is not a faculty member on the ICCB, there is a faculty advisory group but not all institutions participate. Recently the ICCB changed its procedures and now meets six times a year with three working sessions and three business sessions where action is taken. This has resulted in a much more engaged board.
The ICCB has regulatory, advocacy, and policy analysis functions. In its regulatory role it administers the public community college act. It reviews and recommends budgets to the IBHE and Legislature, allocates funds and makes grants, sets standards for curricula, approves new units of instruction and associate of arts degrees, and establishes the ranking for community college capital projects. As part of its coordinating function it recently adopted a strategic plan The Promise for Illinois that parallels and implements The Illinois Commitment in many respects. It pledges to address workforce development, enhance the quality of programs as a basis for college and university transfer, expand adult education and literacy programs, and develop technology skills through emphasizing high quality in all programs, services, and operations; being affordable; and modeling and promoting leadership and ethical decision making.
With a staff of approximately 50 people (IBHE has about 40, 20 of whom are professional personnel), they have units that deal with budget, adult education (transferred to ICCB three years ago), interactive teaching (Illinois Community Colleges Online), program planning and accountability, and policy studies. The latter conducts studies of the community colleges and makes recommendations. It maintains a massive data base, largest of any in the country, with a record of every student who enrolled in an Illinois Community College since the system was created in the 1960s. The ICCB handles all reporting to the federal government, to IPEDS and to IBHE for community colleges.
In the discussion period questions were raised as to the duplication of functions between the ICCB and the IBHE. Many actions of the ICCB are not reviewed by the IBHE. She distributed a letter in which the Illinois Community College Trustees Association went on record as asking legislation not be introduced to separate the ICCB from the IBHE. She believes it is important to have an independent ICCB as it has a different perspective than the other two boards. If the three educational boards were combined into one as has been tried in a few other states, higher education would be the clear loser with elementary and secondary dominating. The ICCB is adamant in not wanting to have 4-year programs although they are highly interested in making their facilities available for degree completion work with the quality control vested in the institution granting the degree. The articulation agreements have been very helpful. The ICCB is progressing on developing an Associate of Arts in Teaching degree. They are involved with the other two boards in the joint education commission focused on K-16 with particular attention to the inadequate preparation of many students for college. In some respects community colleges are getting better cooperation from private institutions than from the public institutions. (Observers note: this may be a result of economic factors and availability of classroom spaces.)
There is concern by some that community colleges are not treated fairly in the capital budget or in funding of students. There are three sources of funds: property taxes (not resulting in equal resources among districts; the ICCB grants attempt to compensate to a degree), tuition, and money from the state. Although the percentage of higher education state funding for community colleges has increased over those going to the four-year institutions in recent years, some believe community colleges are not getting their fair share. Indeed, some few FAC members believe allocations should be on the basis of student numbers, no matter the level. She refused to comment on budget issues since there is total uncertainty about the state budget plans.
The afternoon business session included approval of the minutes, reports of committees, and extended discussion of three issues: an addition to The Illinois Commitment, assessment, and the budget.
The FAC adopted a resolution calling upon the IBHE to add a seventh commitment to The Illinois Commitment: "The collective efforts of Illinois colleges and universities will enhance and enrich the quality of life for all Illinois citizens." In the oral comments transmitting the resolution to the IBHE, the FAC will state its readiness to provide material on implementation such as that found for the existing commitments.
The discussion of assessment largely focused on the agreement by the IBHE to participate in the Pew Foundation effort to develop measures of learning for use in the Report Card issued every other year on educational progress of the 50 states. Institutional participation in the Pew study is voluntary. Assessment in Illinois has been a long, ongoing process: the "Performance Indicators" adopted at the February IBHE meeting are unrelated to the Pew Foundation's efforts.
Discussion of budget issues resulted in little clarity and much frustration. To say the directives and statements from the Governor have been unclear is an understatement. The IHBE has only a couple of weeks to develop a report focused on reducing the costs of administration. The question was raised whether we are talking about a standard category in reports labeled "administrative costs" or categories of administrators and their salaries. The FAC is very concerned about the categories being used in that it appears in at least some institutions that sabbatical salaries are labeled an administrative cost, and people in research assignments, advisors, computer personnel, librarians, department chairs etc. are labeled "administrators." The IBHE was urged to clarify the categories to be treated as administrators and use some standard means of identifying these positions such as that of NACUBO. Many FAC members are worried that the cuts will directly harm their ability to provide quality education to their students, increase their already demanding workload, and not address key budgetary issues. The FAC chair was asked to develop a letter to the IBHE Executive Director setting forth this range of concerns.
Ken Andersen, FAC Chair