April 26, 2004
University of Illinois
HE.04.10 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, March 26, 2004.
The FAC met at Blackburn College. President Mim Pride welcomed the FAC to the campus and expressed appreciation that the group meets at varied locations around the state. Blackburn, Presbyterian related but now without significant church funding, was established in 1837 and continues its emphasis on teaching and one-to-one mentoring. It is one of six “work colleges” but unlike the more famous Berea or College of the Ozarks it is much more “student-managed.” Enrollment is about 700 with a target of 200 freshman each year and a limit of no more than 800 students. All resident students must work in a “learning experience” for at least ten hours a week and are paid for work beyond that amount. They handle most college functions and serve as managers and supervisors including hiring and recommending suspensions. Graduation rate is about 45%--the norm for “work colleges” that tend to attract students from low-income background. Many students drop out due to the family needing their income or other efforts at home.
She sees the genius of higher education as its diversity and Illinois as blessed with a very diverse system that generally works cooperatively although she sees pressures toward division in this time of economic stress. She stressed that unity is more important than that which separates us. She is concerned that government (federal and state) is intruding into issues such as mission, how we teach, how we judge our performance. Higher education must protect its rightful authority over these matters. Education is not a commodity.
Blackburn often has difficulty with accreditation because it is very different given that it is a “work college” and does not fit formulas. They may have only one professional such as a plumber or a librarian with all the rest students. Similarly, higher education as a whole is not understood. We have not educated the public about how we do our work. We must do much more to bring legislators and the public, particularly alumni, onto our campuses and in our classrooms. We need to discipline those colleagues who are not performing appropriately rather than by inactivity invite others to do so. We should solve our problems before they come to public attention. We can respond to accountability pressures by stating our mission and then fulfilling it. The pressure to put numbers on this is often harmful and numbers are never a sufficient measure.
She noted Illinois’ private colleges are increasingly cooperating in matching student locations with legislators and urging students and parents to contact legislators, particularly regarding the Monetary Award Program funding.
Three FAC members participated in a March 25 Springfield lobbying effort. They reported that Senator Dan Brady of Higher Ed Appropriations who said the Governor’s directive was to hold the line on funding expressed surprise the Governor had so far cut only 2%. He cautioned the Governor and Office of Management and Budget Director Filan essentially do not know anything about higher education. The House Higher Ed Appropriations Chair, Democratic Representative Ricca Sloan, urged that we send letters and try to get to the Governor and Filan. Communications should note that sometimes a tax increase is needed. Of the few legislators the three contacted, all said there was not enough money to meet the needs of the state although a tax increase has been ruled out.
The remainder of the morning was devoted to committee meetings.
The afternoon business session was relatively brief. Planning for the transition to next year began with a move to form a nominating committee and a committee of two charged to revise the standing rules on the basis of two years of experience with the current rules.
The Public Policy Committee is drafting letters to key officials communicating the urgency of adopting the original IBHE budget recommendations rather than those of the governor. A letter will be sent to BHE chair Kaplan commending his efforts in support of their budget recommendations. Efforts are needed to get faculty (and other stakeholders) all over the state to contact legislators directly, to write in support of the needs of higher education and to point out the negative impact on students of the previous years of cuts.
The budget committee is working to place a cost figure on the burden of federal and state reporting requirements, a burden increased every year while calls to reduce administrative outlays continue. The Personnel Committee is seeking to address the issue of growth in adjunct faculty while the Educational Quality Committee is developing a statement relating to assessment issues.
UIUC Senate FAC Representative