University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Senate

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March 29, 2004

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.04.07 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, January 30, 2004.

The FAC met at South Suburban College. Vice-President Diane Ostojic noted they are the second oldest community college in the state. Enrollments continue to grow sharply--10% this semester. They have 10,000 full and part-time students, 2/3rds female with a large number of minority students, including a growing Hispanic segment.

The morning was spent in an FAC discussion with two state legislators: Senator Maggie Crotty of the 19th District and Representative Will Davis of the 30th District. Crotty previously served 3 terms in the House. Both are new this term in their current positions. Numerous topics were discussed and several gaps in perceptions revealed. For example, Senator Crotty said all the University requests had been funded in the three years previous to last year. She said she was not aware of the IBHE process of cutting submissions from the Universities to match agreements worked out with the Governor for his support of the IBHE budget recommendations. She believed the state had met our needs until last year. Last year was a terrible budget year and she does not yet see the Illinois economy coming back so this will be another very difficult budget year. Neither legislator said they had seen or heard of The Illinois Commitment nor its use to demonstrate accountability. Neither displayed any awareness of the role of the IBHE.

They stressed that evidence of the impact of the cuts on students and education quality is needed. They urged faculty to get to know their legislators personally and have them on campus to meet with faculty and students. They saw universities as accepting the idea of freezing tuition for incoming students. Both are concerned about job losses and believe we need to support higher education to prepare people to obtain jobs and better jobs. Representative Davis said they needed information on the impact of enlarging class size: it is not clear to legislators why larger classes should affect quality. Both said they did not see faculty productivity as an issue for them or for most legislators. Both repeatedly urged faculty to be much more in touch with their local legislators.

Among the issues raised by the FAC were the impact of budget cuts on quality; the misunderstanding generated by classifying employees as either faculty or administration; impact of cuts in grants such as the special population grants; the growing gap in faculty salaries between private and public institutions; differentiation in the missions of colleges and universities and in individual faculty roles; changing student demographics; part-time students working full time; dangers of micro-management by the legislature, IBHE, even the highest level administrators; impact of cuts that are never reversed despite increased appropriations; cost in time and effort to meet all the mandated reports; failure of the BHE to be an advocate for higher education; need to see K-16 as integrally linked-not separable in terms of preparing a better educated citizenry.

Because the discussion consumed the entire morning, no committee meetings were held. Since the proposed budget and ethics policies to be presented for adoption at the IBHE the following Tuesday were not yet available, FAC Chair Karnes asked members to email him any suggestions for his comments to the IBHE as the documents became available.

The afternoon session was a presentation by Paul Lingenfelter, Executive Director of SHEEO (State Higher Education Executive Officers) and a former IBHE staff member for budget. In citing Paul Stone's remark that "higher education doesn't cost, it pays," he said there is agreement it pays but great concern about costs. Affordability is a major issue. He predicts that state tax revenues going to higher education nationally will not increase but actually decrease. He projects Illinois to have a continuing gap between revenue and need of at least 4.2%. He attributes a large part of that to the fact that we do not tax "services." In our changed economy we buy many more services and fewer "goods" that are taxed.

He believes that Illinois is treated very well as compared to other states in dollars going to support higher education. Recent years in Illinois were very good as we had rising state support and fewer students. In a recession we lose funds and gain students. "When states run out of money, classrooms get full." Higher education faces a tremendous challenge: to educate a much larger proportion of the population. Where 1/3rd used to go on to higher education 2/3rds of high school graduates now do so. This additional group of students is harder to educate. We must serve many more students at much lower costs by finding ways to educate that are different than we are using. Will be a huge challenge to maintain quality and avoid a tiered quality system of excellent to mediocre. No question faculty put in the hours; every study suggests a 55-hour week. Question is how to use that time more effectively; "better, cheaper, faster must be the goal." We tend to diversify when we get funding rather than get better at what we are currently doing. States need 40-50% of the workforce with B.A. degrees in this environment. Otherwise foreign countries such as China and India will eat us alive.

Nationally-less than 10% of state money is invested in higher education-if we could obtain just 2% more that would be a 20% increase in our base. He believes higher education issues will become much more politicized because of need and cost issues. He commended the FAC report on productivity as making an effective case.

N.B. A copy of Lingenfelter's excellent slide presentation is on file at the Senate Office.

Ken Andersen,
UIUC Senate FAC Representative