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December 5, 2005

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.06.02. Report on the Illinois Board of Higher Education Meeting, October 18, 2005.

BHE action and informational items affecting the UIUC Campus:

Donald McNeil, new ISAAC representative, was welcomed to the Board.

The November 9 Higher Education Summit in Chicago featuring several speakers including Richard Stevens of Boeing, Jennifer Presley, Nicole Berry and Stan Ikenberry is designed to draw legislators and their staff to yield a greater understanding of higher education.

A Board committee will review the HECA grant program; Hayes and Nandi will chair.  Budget meeting with institutions will soon commence.  Interim Director Lamont will end his service on Nov. 9 at the conclusion of the higher education summit.  He said he had learned a great deal during his 15 months in the role while noting his several years of prior experience as a member of the Board.

The Faculty Advisory Council report indicated they would participate in the legislative summit, and during the year focus on the faculty environment in Illinois, the general education environment in Illinois, and the status of shared governance and the corporatization of higher education.  The FAC as did others asked to be represented on the Board committee reviewing HECA.  The student representative objected to an item for WIU saying that the allocation of funds had been changed after the student referendum.  The proprietary college representative reported by more degree students transferred into than out of their degree programs indicating these programs have value to the student.  The community college representative said that due to resource constraints the most vulnerable students were not served.  She questioned any expansion at four-year institutions when students are being denied access at community colleges and objected to any UIS expansion.

Stan Ikenberry, the featured speaker, addressed three questions: Is higher education in trouble?  Does it matter?  What should we do about it?  Public opinion polls show it is difficult to convince the public we have a problem. Campuses are beautiful, access is more difficult and tuition rising. Fraction of state budgets going to higher education is declining, severely in the last 4 years but true for 25 years.  Yet greater intervention while giving less support.  Michigan has gone from state assisted, to state located, to “state molested.” UIUC tuition has gone from $700 a semester when SOI came to U of I to $8000.  This trend will continue and the “sticker price” concerns the public.  Radical experimentation taking place as in Colorado with no state support to institution but a state voucher system and contracts to do specific things; Miami of Ohio charges everyone out-of-state tuition and rebates via student aid or need first, then merit.  We need to examine what all this means for future of “the American Dream.”

Education matters more than anything else, especially at the higher education level.  We have done a good job of telling the public about the value of higher ed to the individual.  We have done a very poor job of telling the benefits to society and public that mandates support.  The evidence is equally strong but we don’t talk about it. There is a $4.66 pay back for every state dollar spent.  Social, community, and economic benefits and civic participation are all positively correlated to higher ed.  True 50 years ago, true now.  We are now in a global competition and our educational system is no longer unique: truth is, we are losing our edge. Strategic investment is key and that means investing in higher education.

What to do?  IBHE is a key analytic strength and must give public voice to these issues.  If the Board does not, there is no articulate voice speaking to Illinois.  Fewer and fewer policy makers turn to boards and voluntary policy agencies like the BHE.  We must open a dialogue with the American people.  It must be two way as we listen to the American public to learn their expectations and then decide what higher education must do to respond.  (Noted with praise a recent Larry Faulkner speech on the social contract.)
A national 3-year program will be launched in January based on public opinion research with media spots (TV, Wall Street Journal, Internet), 3500 college campuses supplied with tool kits to reach out to civic groups and communities. It will ask what challenges face America and what solutions can higher education provide.  The danger is we will develop weaknesses at the core and in attitude.  This country is built on dreams of a better future.  To meet current challenges, administrators and faculty will have to change.

In the discussion period Board member Taslitz said we need to focus on life-long learning.  Ikenberry noted a leakage of students who do not graduate from high school, graduate but do not go to college, or go to college but aren’t prepared.  Any education is helpful but the big payoff is the degree.  He again stressed higher education needs a voice and strong leadership.

The annual faculty salary study was presented as an information item. Average faculty salaries (average based on nine-month salaries for full-time faculty) at Illinois public universities have risen an average of 13.4% since 2001 while the Consumer Price Index rose 9.5% and Illinois per capita income 5.6%.  Since FY02 no state funds have been provided for salary increases. Despite this, compared to other states, salaries are marginally more competitive in 2005 than in 2001. Salaries in community colleges rose only 8.2% in the same period but still exceed the medians of the comparison group.  Salaries at private institutions vary widely with the nature of the institution but they average 7% above the comparison medium salaries.  The lower amounts for fringe benefits is linked to the fact other states participate in a retirement program and contribute to Social Security.  Illinois contributes significantly less than other states to retirement but pays more in terms of group medical, dental, life and disability insurance.  Contributions for tuition plans, housing, unemployment and workers compensation are less than 1% of total compensation for faculty.  The presentation was cut short by board member Taslitz saying more was involved in retention and faculty migration than salary.  The presented responded saying faculty salaries do matter.

Program approval that for the last couple of years has been an action item is going to be placed on the consent agenda in the future.

During the Executive Session Judy Erwin was confirmed as the new BHE Executive Director as of November 11. Erwin served in the Illinois General Assembly 1992-2003 representing the 11th District in Chicago.  She chaired the House Higher Education Committee and served on a variety of other committees.  Her business roles have been linked to public affairs and public relations positions and firms.  She was a graduate assistant in political science at UIC 1997-2000 while doing graduate study in public policy analysis there.  Her bachelor’s degree in education is from Wisconsin-Whitewater and her master’s in education from the National College of Education in Evanston.  She taught for four years in the Elgin Public Schools.

The Board held a working session on Monday afternoon about online pedagogy with Walden University (for-profit) cited for the quality of its programs.  Taslitz who arranged for the session is a proponent of online education and for-profit proprietary institutions.

Ken Andersen
FAC to the IBHE Representative