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February 16, 2004

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.04.06 Report on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Meeting, December 9, 2003.

The BHE met from 9:20 to 11:55 a.m. at Robert Morris College in Chicago. Chair James Kaplan opened the meeting by recognizing the service of Senator Stanley Weaver, a "major contributor to all of higher education" and Dan Fouts, retiring President of the Federation of Independent Colleges. The next meeting of the BHE is February 3 in Lake County.

President Michael Viollt of Robert Morris welcomed the group, commenting favorably upon the value of The Illinois Commitment and the help provided by the BHE staff. He noted that the South Loop is becoming an educational corridor. The College stresses a career focus for underserved students with 70% of its students being first generation. The College offers only 3 B. A. degree options with 40% of its students in general education. It provides the most associate degrees of any Illinois institution.

BHE Director LaVista noted several accomplishments of the year including more accountability in awarding BHE grants; sponsoring the first annual student arts competition; implementation of recommendations on affordability and faculty diversity: reconstituting the committee on capital projects and priorities; and new standards for accountability and performance. He noted the departure of Doug Day to become Associate Provost for Planning and Budgeting at Marquette University and Debra Smitley to become Assistant Vice-President for Financial Planning Services at ISU. Each had served in key BHE policy roles for 18 years.

Robert English is retiring from the BHE as is Ed Duffy who chaired the Illinois Community College Board. Mr. Alongi of John A. Logan College will replace Duffy. (The Governor has since appointed Steven Taslitz, a Northbrook investment manager, to the BHE. This still leaves a vacancy on the Board.) The membership of the Board and of the senior BHE staff is largely new within the last two or three years.

The FAC report stressed its response in the form of an extended document to Chairman Kaplan's challenge regarding faculty productivity. The report stressed the symbiotic nature of the relationship between faculty, administration and students and that faculty are very productive by any measure including the hours worked, particularly in research universities (classroom contact hours are not a valid measure). Workload includes teaching, research, and service. Illinois has a high quality higher education system that is now at risk. Solutions must be long-term and strategic.

Other advisory committee reports noted that universal access to higher education is at risk due to budget cuts, supported the AA degree in teaching, and urged cooperation among all higher ed components.

The statewide results report noted more degrees being granted at every level. A major limitation on continued improvement is the poor preparation of Illinois high school students. One board member said Illinois is losing ground, and that while easy to fall, it is hard to get back up. We must educate the public, legislature and governor and press on what is needed.

Other reports were made including the annual report on meeting the goals of The Illinois Commitment. Allocations of Federal funds in the "No child Left Behind" program were made to many institutions as well as the graduation incentives program grants to EIU and WIU. New units of instruction were approved including a Department of Bioengineering at UIUC to offer B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

A Framework for Reviewing Priorities, Productivity and Accountability was adopted. The review will validate priorities in higher education linked to The Illinois Commitment as it is and as it is revised, explore efficiency in all activities including faculty productivity, and look at accountability practices and procedures in terms of what we have, what we might change in reducing/eliminating some and adding other procedures.

Several members of the BHE met with six members of the Faculty Advisory Council for about 90 minutes following lunch. Clearly Kaplan was not happy with the report provided by the FAC relative to productivity. He complained about newspaper articles coming from EIU about productivity issues as counterproductive. Board members seemed to think faculty had the authority to cut programs or change procedures independent of the administration. The FAC stressed differences in mission means that the individual institutions have to make decisions about cuts. Cuts must not be across the board but should be made within the shared governance structure. Further, we must take a long-term approach if we are to maintain quality. In this sense the effort to study priorities, productivity and accountability is appropriate with each institution proceeding in terms of its mission. It was stressed that quality is a key component of productivity. Kaplan indicated that Filan (head of Office of Management and Budget) believes-or did--that we have to cut more money out of higher education and that faculty are not productive. The implication was that we would be looking at further budget cuts absent a change of thinking in Springfield.

Ken Andersen, FAC Member and Senate Observer