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February 14, 2005

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate
Final; Information

HE.05.04 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, November 12, 2004.

N.B.  Scheduling conflicts due to responsibilities at the National Communication Association Convention and a change in the normal FAC meeting date prevented your representative from attending this meeting and two alternates also had conflicts.  This summary is derived from minutes taken by Judith Dallinger of WIU, FAC Secretary.

The FAC met at the College of Lake County.  Dr. Carole Bulakowski, Interim Academic Vice President, welcomed the Council and noted a new technology building would open in a few weeks and a new university center located on the campus will open in June offering baccalaureate and graduate level work by various institutions.

A number of legislators met briefly with the Council and offered comments.  Representative Mark Beaubien, 52nd District Republican, said we have a real revenue crisis in Illinois and funding will probably stay fairly level for the near future.  Senator William Peterson, 26th District Republican, stressed the doubling of bonded indebtedness in one year under the Governor.  He said the cost of higher education in Illinois is very high and we need better support for it.  Republican Senator Adeline Geo-Karis, 31st District agreed Illinois has a money shortage but we are doing better although security costs have been very high since 9/11/01. Senator Susan Garrett, 29th District Democrat, believes we are slowly emerging from the financial mess we had.  The next budget year will be a tough one; it may be worse than last year.  She sees the problems in Illinois higher education as symptomatic of what is happening across the country.

The legislators asked about the average student contact hours for professors and indicated faculty need to educate the public about how much they work.  The FAC described many aspects of the faculty workload.  Members also described the impact of recent budget cuts on educational quality.  Higher education is becoming too expensive for lower income families.

Representative Beaubien commented that members of groups such as chambers of commerce are very supportive of a high quality educational system and urged educators to work more closely with business because it will be supportive.  He noted the legislature is responsive to organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce.

After the legislators departed with FAC thanks for their participation, the FAC engaged in a wide-ranging discussion.   Among the points made: We need to consider realistically the widely held public view of professors being “far too liberal.” Aligning with business groups is a good idea and the FAC will consider how it might work with such groups.  Perhaps chamber of commerce people could be invited to meetings with the FAC. Some suggested that a power point presentation on what faculty do be developed.  Others felt we should not do that but might prepare packets of research studies on faculty productivity.

The group approved a letter dealing with the erosion of state monetary funding support for public institutions and urged FAC members to send it to the letter to the editor columns of their local newspapers.  Another letter is being developed by the budget committee with a similar goal.

John Murphy, Executive Vice President and Legislative Director of UPI Local 4100 of IFT/AFT/AFL-CIO, met with the group after lunch. He reported on last year’s “Stop the Bleeding” campaign that included personnel from public universities including AFSME, SEIU, IEA, UPI, IFT and the Illinois Community College Board of Trustees. They created the campaign to apply to all of higher education seeking money for the institutions, not necessarily employee groups.  The coalition will continue its work this year.  Issues they believe we should be pursuing include the damage to higher education, general support of institutions, a better study of non-tenure track faculty, pension funding issues, and administrative bloat.  The FAC directed its Quality and Legislative Contact Committee to serve as a liaison to the union coalition.  He urged faculty to contact their local legislators and also suggested the FAC meet with John Filan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The meeting concluded with a series of committee reports.  Efforts are continuing to draft letters to the editor on higher education issues.  Also, plans are being made to contact legislators in Springfield during the spring session and to provide testimony at hearings.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative