September 27, 2004
University of Illinois
HE.05.01 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, September 10, 2004.
The FAC met at the St. Xavier University. The Council was briefly welcomed by Dr. Judith Dwyer, the President, who noted they were in a strategic planning exercise. They opened a new, second campus in Orland Park last year.
The morning was largely spent in discussion with three Democratic legislators: Senator Ed Maloney, 18th District, a member of the Appropriations Committee; Representative Kevin McCarthy, 37th District, Chair of the Higher Education Committee; and Representative Kevin Joyce, 35th District, Vice-Chair of the Higher Education Appropriations Committee.
The statements by the legislators and the extended question period covered a wide range of topics from the higher ed budget to the need for increased state revenues. For convenience in reporting, the views of each legislator will be summarized in a paragraph although the contributions occurred at various times during the two hours. All had linkages to both private and public schooling and colleges.
McCarthy stressed the need for private and public colleges to cooperate. He expressed very strong support for the Monetary Award Program, MAP. He believes it is in the best interest of the state to support private education. He noted that tuition to some private high schools in the Chicago area is higher than that at UIUC and believes students are getting a real bargain at public institutions. McCarthy said the public college presidents failed in previous years to make a strong case for their budgets because of fear of the Governor. He said they need to be a stronger force and urged faculty to push administrators to tell the story of the harm that cuts have done to their institutions. The public college presidents came in “like a bunch of sheep” and did not make their case for fy04. We need to oppose the Governor’s efforts to cut higher ed and he has been working to try to get the Governor to soften his attack on higher ed. He encouraged faculty to testify before his committee and will make arrangements for the FAC to do so next year. He sees community colleges as very affordable and gaining more prestige. Guaranteeing access to higher education does not mean admission as a freshman to a four-year institution. K-12 is a kind of “sacred cow” for appropriations despite its problems.
Joyce said, “The pulse of the House is to continue to fund higher ed at the best level we can.” House Republicans stress their support for higher ed but the public must remember that the Democrats support it as well. The revenue stream is down. But, September 11, 2001 did not have the great impact on the economy that many claim. Many businesses have closed in Illinois and will not return. Joyce said, “Filan made higher education a target.” Filan is “the biggest enemy of higher education in the administration.” He wants to control the money.
Maloney said we need to be sure to communicate our needs not just to friends of higher education in the legislature but to those that have other emphases. We need to show the impact of the cuts. We must look at cutting pension benefits of future retirees. Current retirees have their benefits guaranteed by the state Constitution. He was particularly outraged by school districts giving 20% raises the last two years before people retire forcing the pension systems to pick up that increased cost. Poorer districts cannot afford to do this—richer districts are doing this and it is unfair.
With regard to state revenue enhancement all were dubious. The Governor’s attention to public opinion polling was stressed. Governor says no to increased sales and income taxes so nothing will happen for the two years until the next election. While many school districts are pushing for increasing state funding, Joyce says the issue is believability. People do not believe increased school funding will make a difference in educational quality; it is a question of trust. Tax changes are an issue of who will benefit and who will lose. Most people will lose, not gain from changing the tax structure. People look at their own personal interest. The quality of our higher education system is viewed favorably by the public but elementary and secondary education often is not.
During the business session, two statements were approved for transmission to the BHE: one on the revision of The Illinois Commitment; the other on the need for strong budgetary support for fy06. The chair was directed to develop a third commending the BHE for its efforts on behalf of the higher ed budget for fy05. Some slight revisions in FAC procedures were adopted. The majority of the business meeting was focused on organizing for the work of the year. A large number of new members from private and community colleges joined the Council this year. An intense focus will be on legislative action on the budget. Four committees were created:
- Budget Issues with the added duties of legislative correspondence;
- Educational Quality with added duties for contacting and setting up appointments with legislators;
- Public Policy with a focus on op ed pieces and letters to the editor and other means of reaching the general public; and
- Higher Education Issues to deal with other concerns facing the BHE and higher education.
UIUC Senate FAC Representative