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February 20, 2006

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.06.04 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, November 18, 2005.

(Because of a schedule conflict the delegate and alternate could not attend the meeting. This report is based upon the official minutes taken at the meeting.)

The FAC met in Chicago at St. Augustine College.  Dr. Clara Brennan, President, welcomed the FAC and noted the college’s unique bilingual mission and programs.

Representative Larry McKean (13th District—the uptown Chicago area), a member of the Higher Education and Labor Committees, met with the group for an hour.  He expressed concern about the budget cuts for higher education and his disagreements with the Governor.  FAC members stressed their concern that the phrase “lifelong learning” doesn’t mean technical retooling and stressed the value of a liberal arts education.

IBHE liaison Gary Alexander reported the new BHE Executive Director, Judy Irwin, assumed her position on November 12.  He discussed a proposal mentioned at the October meeting to utilize “emeritus faculty” as consultants to serve institutions on program development and similar matters.  FAC members expressed concern that this could be another means for financially strapped institutions to avoid new hiring to replace faculty retirees.  Interest is growing at the BHE for focusing on education in terms of a P-16 basis but he does not foresee a merger with the Illinois State Board of Education anytime soon and budgets will remain separate.  Faculty diversity remains an important issue for legislators.  The IAI (Illinois Articulation Initiative) is being reexamined. FAC members believe that the actual syllabi used in courses should be the basis for approval.

The two faculty who attended the Chicago legislative summit on November 9 noted that while budget cuts were universally lamented, little in the way of constructive action was proposed. They are concerned that education is treated as a “commodity” with higher education being reduced to “job training.”

Given limited attendance at the FAC meeting, subcommittees did not meet.  The group discussed ways for the FAC to reach beyond the BHE to business and labor leaders and to devise methods to influence legislators.  The group adopted a slogan of “Shifting the Cost” to suggest moving from state support to relying on student tuition.  Such a slogan might be the basis for efforts to highlight the changes in the support base of higher education.

Given its meeting location, the FAC adjourned an hour early (1:30 p.m.) on the grounds of avoiding rush hour traffic.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative