University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Senate

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March 29, 2004

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.04.08 Report on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Meeting, February 3, 2004.

The BHE met from 9:20 to 12:30 at the College of Lake County in Grayslake. Chair James Kaplan noted that Executive Director LaVista was ill. He welcomed Steven Taslitz (UIUC honors grad in accounting) and Gay Alongi representing the Community College Board as BHE members. He noted U of I President Jim Stukel's resignation effective February 2005. He then introduced College of Lake County President Gretchen Neff. She stressed the College's focus on programs that serve students of the region, particularly health care professions and continued growth in enrollment, particularly among Latinos.

In introducing Dan Layzell to report in place of LaVista, Kaplan noted three items of interest: budget recommendations, review of The Illinois Commitment, and facilitating the movement of handicapped students from high school into college. Layzell said the Committee on Capital Projects will report in April. The First Annual Collegiate Artists Competition is under way with submissions due by April 2 and awards presented May 4 at ISU. The summit meeting on faculty diversity will be in mid-April on the SIU-S Medical Campus to share best practices and strategies for recruitment and retention.

Ken Andersen reported on behalf of the Faculty Advisory Council. (Chair Allan Karnes did not make the trip due to weather conditions.) After welcoming the new BHE members, he urged inclusion of faculty on committees established by the Board, that the FAC provide representatives to serve as a means of ensuring accountability through the FAC to faculty and that he had been recommended as the FAC's representative on the Board's Priorities, Productivity and Accountability Committee. Several points were made relative to the 2005 budget recommendations. Noting the fiscal pressures, the FAC agreed on directing funding to highest priority items but regretted that a number of quality initiatives and programs would not be funded and others like workforce development grants to community colleges drastically reduced. The FAC applauded decisions regarding MAP (Monetary Award Program) in adopting a tuition equalization factor capping the amount of tuition and fees included in determining need and conversion to a credit hour system (MAP 135) tying the allocation of funds to hours being taken.

More state aid will thus go to students, public and private, with the highest need. The FAC called for more transparent presentation of the budget requests. While the recommendations for higher education are 2% higher than last year, this is only because all fund sources including tuition are included, there is a decrease in state funding. Concern was expressed about possible additional reductions for healthcare-an issue not covered in the budget since that would be a CMS decision. There is concern about changes in the assumptions underlying contributions to the state pension systems. The materials on the budget and on ethics policies were not available when the FAC met the previous Friday. More formal, considered responses would be possible by the April meeting. He concluded by stating that while the proposed budget was understandable in the current fiscal climate, it is one that will not be received with great enthusiasm by faculty and staff. But, failing to achieve the proposed budget will cause further deterioration in faculty morale and retention so he urged every effort to ensure the current proposal is enacted. If the proposed budget is actually funded that will be a significant accomplishment.

The student representative endorsed the recommendations on MAP, as did the representative of the proprietary institutions. The community college representative stressed paraprofessional degrees as important activities for them. He endorsed the proposals relative to The Illinois Commitment as very important, particularly the stress on public involvement and civic activities. The struggle to do more with less funding is an acute problem-the key is to provide as much unrestricted funding as possible to maximize flexibility in responses. More support is needed given technology costs.

Higher education is the key to addressing the problems we face. The representative of private institutions expressed opposition to the MAP program changes in that some students would have awards reduced or eliminated. (He did not mention that others would have awards increased.) Also, he complained about the reduction or elimination of funding for many grant programs for workforce development, economic development and health education. He urged that in the review of The Illinois Commitment attention be focused on the issues we will face in the next 5 to 10 years given changes in demographics and the need to serve more students with less state funding.

Dan Layzell's budget presentation noted an estimated state deficit for next year of $1.5 to $2B so the proposed budget seeks to protect our highest priorities. Financial aid is redirected to the neediest students to promote access. State GRF (General Revenue Funds) to higher ed are cut 3.3%. A major portion of the cut results from a lower figure required for SURS, a drop of 13.2% due to the bonding program of last year. In that sense the cut is 1.8% Taking all funds including tuition into account there is a budget increase of 2%. Public universities are taking a 100M cut in administrative costs over three years.

Of these cuts, 48% have gone to absorb budget cuts, 16% to personnel services, and 36% to cover other costs such as health insurance and unavoidable increased costs. Community colleges will absorb a cut of 2.8%. The overall allocation for student aid is down 2.4% with funding for MAP level and other grants and special awards cut. Grants for access and diversity have a 10.6% increase and funds are provided to open the new University Centers of Lake County. Workforce and economic development grants are cut 62%.

The capital budget request is $341.6M for 30 projects in response to original requests of $138B. Renovation and renewal to meet deferred maintenance is up 33% ($40M) with UIUC Lincoln Hall Remodeling the next big project at $51.56M.

Board members expressed concern about not having the budget until the day of the meeting. Lamont expressed concern over the deep cuts in funds for workforce and economic development-a core mission. Kaplan defended the changes in MAP formulas noting that more people will receive funds and the neediest receive more funds. Kaplan believes the proposed budget is one on which we are "very close to agreement with the Governor." Clearly, this is a budget Kaplan has developed and the BHE staff put into print. Kaplan commended presidents of NIU and U of I and all the public presidents and chancellors for their input and expressed appreciation for their efforts. The NIU president said the budget is "the best we could expect; we hope it will hold." The proposed budget was adopted unanimously. The key response to the proposal will be in the Governor's February 18 budget message.

Proposed Personnel Policies for Public Universities and the Illinois Board of Higher Education were presented. This translates recent legislation entitled State Officials and Employees Ethics Act into BHE policy. The policies include work time requirements, documentation of time worked, documentation for travel reimbursements, compensation and benefits. "The statute requires State employees to periodically submit time sheets documenting the time spent each day on official State business to the nearest quarter hour." Also, all are required to participate in ethics training. The policy was adopted as required by law although with some protest that they had not had time to review the policy and its implications. The policy, its implications and its applications to administrators, faculty and staff will be the subject of much internal discussion in universities as well as by the Board and its staff. The introductory statement indicated an effort to " minimize paperwork, and other administrative burdens as much as possible." An issue was raised as to whether this would apply to employees under collective bargaining agreements. One concept was that it must apply when a new contract is negotiated.

In other action the Board approved a procedure to appoint a hearing officer to conduct fact-finding relative to possible revocation of approval for the American Islamic Council to offer degrees. New associate degrees were approved at community colleges with action deferred until April for the degree of forensic specialist at Illinois Valley Community College and degrees of Paraprofessional Educator at Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, Kaskaskia, Lake County, Moraine Valley, Oakton and Southeastern Illinois. Proposed programs at private schools and 4-year publics were adopted including a B.S. in Nursing at NIU and Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences and an Ed.D in Urban Educational Leadership at UIC. A Committee to Study and Implement Policies Affecting Students with Disabilities will be developed.

The mid-term review of The Illinois Commitment has begun with the staff reviewing trends and challenges facing higher education in Illinois. A web survey on the BHE website has been established for individuals wishing to comment. Adjustments and refinements may be needed including attention to public engagement and civic responsibility. A further report will be made in April. In a comment, Kaplan noted the importance of ethics.

The development of the University Center of Lake County was reviewed. It has grown 12% a year in terms of courses. Sixteen schools, 8 public, 8 private now use the Center offering 622 courses. A building to house the center is being constructed on the College of Lake County Campus and also in Waukegan where one part of a building will be utilized for Center activities.

The consent agenda was adopted without comment.

(Given the importance of some items, copies of the material are on file at the Senate Office.)

Ken Andersen, FAC Member
Senate Observer