University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Senate

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April 26, 2004

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.04.09 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, February 27, 2004.

The FAC met at National Louis University, 122 S. Michigan Ave., in Chicago. President Curtis McCray welcomed the group noting that the University was in the midst of strategic planning involving students, faculty, and administrators.  He urged all higher education sectors to cooperate supporting the budget needs of higher education given the rapidity of change that will continue in higher education.  He opposed the changes recently made in MAP (Monetary Assistance Program).  Urgent problems for much of private higher education are tuition discounting, deferred maintenance of buildings and the very high cost of technology improvements demanded by students. Some schools unwisely spent significant portions of their endowment as the economic decline lowered returns on endowments. The Senate Chair Tom Haney and FAC member Judy Christensen also welcomed the group and shared information on the University.  The University has campuses in Chicago, Elgin, Evanston (the original site of the National College of Education that later became National Louis) Wheaton and Wheeling, and in Beloit and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  In addition to its major historical focus, the College of Education, it has a College of Arts and Sciences and a College of Management and Business.  It recently closed campuses in Atlanta and St. Louis but maintains a program in Nowy Sacz, Poland. Maintenance on the old campus in Evanston is a particular drain on resources.

The FAC briefly discussed a number of issues.  The group is considering a “lobbying day” in Springfield, is concerned that Wilbur-Wright College will not provide support for its representative to participate in FAC meetings and the failure of the Governor to endorse the recommended IBHE budget.  The issue of an FAC call for an early retirement program for faculty if one is offered to state workers was discussed.  Some WIU faculty are urging such a program. The FAC noted that institutional missions vary and one solution would not fit all. Schools with unionized faculty cannot negotiate early retirement programs on an individual basis in contrast to those that are not unionized. While some FAC members favor a statewide faculty early retirement program, the majority does not.

The morning session largely consisted of IBHE staff member Dan Layzell’s presentation on the budget.  After discussing the BHE budget recommendations he described the differences with the Governor’s budget recommendations. The Governor’s emphases are K-12 education, health care, and public safety. The Governor’s press releases emphasize the increases in the “all funds” budget. The Governor is recommending a 5.9% decrease in state support (3% excluding SURS) for higher education although he stresses increases linked to the all funds budgets of universities that include tuition. Public universities would take a 2% reduction, additional reductions are made in grant programs and he proposes reducing the amount given the retirement system below what was certified as per existing state law by SURS.  Hearings will continue in the General Assembly with action on the budget in May and the Governor acting in July and August.  We do not yet have the Governor’s capital budget recommendations.  There is concern in the legislature about the cuts in various grant programs including the matching funds for research.  Layzell was not sure legislators are sensitive to the difference between the all funds recommendations and the recommended cuts in state support for higher education.  He has not seen legislative interest in gaining control of income funds or other external sources of funding although tuition levels are of interest.

Staff work on the revision of The Illinois Commitment continues and there will be opportunity for continued comment. Interested parties should complete the web survey on the IBHE home page.

After a brief business meeting to approve minutes and a statement on general education issues in the Illinois Articulation Initiative, the afternoon was spent in a discussing a wide range of issues with BHE Executive Director Dan Lavista. 

The Board remains committed to their budget proposal rather than accepting the Governor’s recommendations. Legislators often ask about research. One issue is that legislators remember their time in school and do not understand the tremendous changes in universities and the nature of much new knowledge. It is early in the legislative process: legislative hearings thus far have largely been of a fact-finding nature.  HB 4073 by Monique Davis seeks more oversight of the tenure process.  The bill, a modification of last year’s HB 3145, is opposed by the BHE and by the institutions. A special teleconference meeting of the BHE held Feb. 24 approved a range of AA degrees for community colleges not approved at the Feb. 3 meeting.  LaVista believes the Board needs a better understanding of the range and role of community college degrees. The diversity conference scheduled for March is being delayed at least a couple of months.  On March 18, all board of trustees chairs and college presidents will be invited to a meeting at UIS to review cooperative initiatives being undertaken such as joint procurement, energy purchases, etc., efforts designed to yield cost savings.

The April 13 BHE meeting will have an item appointing and charging the Committee on Priorities, Productivity and Accountability to be chaired by Tom Lamont. LaVista believes the initial focus should be on looking at the missions of public universities.  It will not include examination of community colleges that may under the ICCB do their own review.  Initially the focus will be on missions and how performance links to those missions.  However, given the fiscal climate, he believes issues such as duplication of curricula and whether some degree programs should be eliminated at some institutions to reduce overlap will inevitably arise.  The Board emphasis is not on faculty teaching one more course although some board members favor that.  Fiscal efficiency is the key goal.

Ken Andersen,
UIUC Senate FAC Representative