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April 25, 2005

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.05.11 Report on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Meeting, April 5, 2005.

The BHE met from 9:07 to 11:35 a.m. at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.

Chair James Kaplan urged people to see the “world class” museum befitting Abraham Lincoln. He commended the Governor for calling for higher standards for high school graduation, noting this has been a major goal for the BHE.  

Interim Executive Director Lamont congratulated the UIUC basketball team for a great season, one that united the entire state.  He also introduced three new BHE staff members, replacements for individuals who had left. 

Faculty Advisory Council Chair Allan Karnes responded to the Board’s request to provide information on the use of course packets.  These packets enable professors to provide current material that is at the “cutting edge” of the discipline, typically saving money and time for the students. Costs vary but are tied to reproduction costs of the material and any royalties due to the materials’ creators.  Commenting on Subcommittee B’s of the Priorities, Productivity and Accountability Committee, he reported that the FAC urged continuation of the Baccalaureate Follow-Up Survey.  Second, that the IBHE statewide conference on higher education planning committee should include faculty and that parents, alumni, contributors, faculty and students as well as representative of state government and private industry be invited as participants. Third, that the role and scope of involvement of the Capital Development Board in university building projects be reduced.  He concluded by urging all involved to continue to press for adoption of the IBHE budget recommendations.

Kaplan introduced Douglas L. Whitley, President/CEO of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce who called “job loss the biggest threat to the state.”  While other states have increased employment, Illinois has been stagnant for at least a dozen years at 5.8M jobs.  Many communities outside the Chicago area are losing their biggest employers, some the two or three largest employers.  Calling research and development our seed corn, he stressed the value of higher education as an economic engine and in meeting the need for lifelong learning.  He commended community colleges for their focus on workforce development but stressed the need to be in synch with employer needs.  He said the state must invest in its infrastructure.  He is concerned about the squeeze being put on higher education in state budget cuts and the impact on affordability.  The state is taking money from higher education because it sees higher education as having other sources for funds but we “cannot allow this long term.” He concluded by saying we must take action—we cannot afford to be a mediocre state rated D or F in many dimensions.

Approval was given to a number of new instructional programs at public community colleges and one private institution.  Operating but not degree approval was granted to Urbana Theological Seminary located at 314 E. Daniel in Champaign.

The Board approved grants under the “no child left behind act” designed to improve teacher quality with $199,750 to UIUC for a tech-intensive mathematics and science model.  Some board members expressed concern over the number of grants being awarded rather than focusing on a few really top proposals.  Work-study grants were approved for UIS at $93K, UIC at $90K and UIUC at $43.3K.

The legislative report noted the budget is the dominating issue in the spring session but saw progress on some items.  SB1628 to create a  “Higher Education Inspector General” was described as having the support of public college administrators since it recognizes campus environments have unique ethical challenges fundamentally different from other state agencies.  A bill to grant authority to Harper College (a community college) to grant two B. A. degrees will apparently not be acted upon in this session.  The BHE opposes this legislation.  SB 31 to increase high school graduation requirements to three years of mathematics and two years of science courses has not been acted upon but may be later attached to another vehicle bill if a consensus proposal can be reached. Several bills focused on energy conservation have been referred to a house subcommittee chaired by Rep. Naomi Jakobsson. (SB1428/HB 2653 is the U of I budget as recommended in the Governor’s budget.)

The BHE is sponsoring a symposium at UIS on April 12 focused on energy conservation.

The consent agenda included approval of $12.9M for the UIUC Airport Air Traffic Control Tower.

Ken Andersen
UIUC FAC Senate Representative.